Following on from the earlier report that the PLA Second Artillery Corps has been elevated into a full service branch and renamed as the PLA Rocket Force (PLARF), Chinese state media confirmed today that at the same time the PLA also created a brand new branch known as the PLA Strategic Support Force (PLASSF) on the last day of 2015.
On 31 December 2015, the People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Corps (PLA SAC) was officially elevated in its status from a service arm (兵种) to a full service branch (军种), on par with the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Its name was also changed to the PLA Rocket Force (中国人民解放军火箭军).
On 2 November 2015, China’s first C919 twin-engine narrow-body passenger jetliner rolled out of the production line in a ceremony attended by some 4,000 government officials and VIP guests at COMAC’s manufacturing plant Shanghai. Many hailed this as the major milestone in China’s multibillion-dollar effort to break into the commercial jetliner market, believing that the country will soon be able to compete with market leaders such as Boeing and Airbus. Others may hold a different view based on the fact that most of the aircraft’s parts and sub-systems were outsourced to Western suppliers—from engines to landing gears, to avionics.
As part of its modernisation restructuring programme, from early 2012 the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) began to convert its air divisions into more combined and flexible brigade-sized units, similar to the air wings in the USAF. This is possibly the most significant organisational change in the history of the PLAAF, with the aim to achieve a more ‘flat’ administrative and command and control structure.