Chinese Navy seeks graduate students for fighter pilot role

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s navy wants to recruit highly qualified graduate students to fly shipboard aircraft, raising the age limit to broaden its search as it seeks to improve the qualifications of its air force personnel and build a “strong army.”

In addition to upgrading its equipment from warships to fighter jets, China is also trying to improve the caliber of its recruits, as the military is traditionally a career path favored by the less educated.

In an advertisement on the social media platform WeChat, the People’s Liberation Army Navy said it was seeking graduate students with master’s degrees in science and engineering who are under 26 to pilot aircraft from ships, including China’s growing fleet of aircraft carriers.

Only last year it was possible for students aged 24 or younger to apply for the first time. Previously, it limited candidates to high school graduates under the age of 20.

“The need for highly qualified military talent is becoming more urgent every day,” the People’s Liberation Army Navy said in the advertisement released Wednesday.

“The mission and tasks of the Navy are constantly increasing. The pace of the Navy’s strategic change is accelerating.”

Candidates must be male and have a clean “political history” and no legal or disciplinary history, the advertisement says.

The training includes three to four years of flight theory study and practical flight training. Successful candidates will receive free medical care for themselves and their immediate families, as well as government-provided accommodation.

China is in the final stages of preparing its third but first domestically-made aircraft carrier – the Fujian – for sea trials, a key step before the warship enters service.

China aims to modernize its armed forces by 2035.

(Reporting by Albee Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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