|Abstract: ||The best lesson China has learned from the Gulf War and Kosovo is the value of air power in high-technology warfare. This lesson has significantly influenced the debate within the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) regarding the role of the service in modern warfare. As discussed in this paper a consensus has emerged that emphasizes the strategic function of air power in the new age. The Air Force's traditional role of supporting the Army has not been discarded, but the force is being given more independent missions to perform, such as establishing air superiority, launching long-distance strikes, and conducting surgical operations for political purposes.|
The new thinking concerning the functions of the Air Force in the future has paved the way for a number of key reforms. First, the PLAAF is being restructured from a fundamentally defensive force to a force with both defensive and offensive capabilities. Second, this force restructuring has affected the whole weapons programs for the Air Force, which gives top priority to the development of strategic airlift, aerial refueling, and ground-attack capabilities. Third, air and missile defence has been identified as the weakest point in the PLA's modernization and thus has received new emphasis. All these reforms are designed to help the PLAAF catch up with the international trend of the revolution in military affairs.