China Aerospace Studies Institute
CASI’s mission is to advance understanding of the capabilities, development, operating
concepts, strategy, doctrine, personnel, organization, and limitations of China’s aerospace forces, which include: the PLA Air Force (PLAAF); PLA Naval Aviation (PLAN Aviation); PLA Rocket
Force (PLARF); PLA Army (PLAA) Aviation; the PLA Strategip0pp0ppc Support Force (PLASSF); and
the civilian and commercial infrastructure that supports the above.
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CASI supports the Secretary, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Chief of Space Operations,
and other senior Air and Space leaders. CASI provides expert research and analysis supporting
decision and policy makers in the Department of Defense and across the U.S. government. CASI
can support the full range of units and organizations across the USAF, USSF, and the DoD. CASI
accomplishes its mission through conducting the following activities:
▪ CASI primarily conducts open-source native-language research supporting its five main topic areas.
▪ CASI conducts conferences, workshops, roundtables, subject matter expert panels, and senior
leader discussions to further its mission. CASI personnel attend such events, government,
academic, and public, in support of its research and outreach efforts.
▪ CASI publishes research findings and papers, journal articles, monographs, and edited
volumes for both public and government-only distribution as appropriate.
▪ CASI establishes and maintains institutional relationships with organizations and institutions
in the PLA, the PRC writ large, and with partners and allies involved in the region.
▪ CASI maintains the ability to support senior leaders and policy decision makers across the full
spectrum of topics and projects at all levels, related to Chinese aerospace.
CASI supports the U.S. Defense Department and the China research community writ-large by
providing high quality, unclassified research on Chinese aerospace developments in the context of
U.S. strategic imperatives in the Asia-Pacific region. Primarily focused on China’s Military Air,
Space, and Missile Forces, CASI capitalizes on publicly available native language resources to
gain insights as to how the Chinese speak to and among one another on these topics.
Training at Different Altitudes
Bomber pilots also train at different altitudes over water and over land. The PLA defines the
five altitude levels as follows:17
• Minimum altitude (also identified as extreme-low or very-low altitude) (超低空) as less
than 100 meters
• Low altitude (低空) as 100 to 1,000 meters
• Medium altitude (中空) as 1,000 to 7,000 meters,
• High altitude (高空) as 7,000 to 10,000 meters
• Ultra- high altitude (also identified as very-high altitude) (超高空) as 15,000 meters and
For example, on 3 September 2015 at a firing range in northwest China, bombers from the 10th
AD flew at low altitude and fired two missiles, hitting a target.18 In early 2018, an 8th AD’s bomber
unit commonly practiced maritime live-munition targeting missions (海上实弹打靶任务) that
required them to attack under minimum-altitude penetration conditions.19
In 2015, aircraft from the 10th AD’s “Model Bomber Group” flew the unit’s first flight over
the Pacific and conducted minimum-altitude flying for several tens of minutes.20,21 The PIC then
took control and lowered the aircraft another 20 meters within the minimum altitude level, and
flew this way for another ten minutes. Since then, every unit has been conducting minimumaltitude training over water.
In early winter 2015, an 8th AD bomber unit conducted plateau test training (高原试训) with
a special operations aircraft unit (特种机部队) that was deployed for training (驻训) in the same
location.22 The two units conducted a combined arms drill (联合演练) together, verifying a combat method (验证战法). The regiment had already developed a good foundation in the training subject
(课目) for plateau test training, but was adding content and working to improve flaws.
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