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China trains female pilots for J-10 fighter aircraft


J-10 fighter aircraft.

BEIJING (PTI): Five Chinese women Air Force pilots completed their first successful solo flights with the country's indigenously built J-10 fighter jet, becoming the first batch of women pilots to operate the aircraft, one the mainstays of the airforce.

The five pilots completed basic operations smoothly and will move on to technical and tactical training, the Air Force of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) said.

The PLA Air Force recruited its first female fighter pilots in 2005, when 35 potential pilots were selected from more than 200,000 senior high school graduates.

Among them, 16 were chosen to undergo a four-year preliminary training starting in 2009, with five pilots chosen from the 16 to pilot the J-10 fighter after their training was completed.

"The pilots showed a strong ability to adapt and a hard- working spirit. Their basic skills are very solid," said Wang Qin, the pilots' instructor.

More than 500 women have enlisted in the PLA Air Force since 1951, although they have been relegated to piloting cargo transport planes and engaging in navigation, communication and flight testing, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

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