China Maritime Report No. 19: The PLA Airborne Corps in a Joint Island Landing Campaign

China Maritime Studies Institute – The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Airborne Corps would likely play an important role in a cross-strait invasion through operations behind enemy lines. During the landing campaign, the Corps would conduct paradrops or landing operations onto Taiwan, facilitated by PLA Air Force (PLAAF) aircraft. Once on island, airborne forces would seize and hold terrain and conduct a variety of operations to support the broader invasion. In recent years, the Corps has reorganized to improve its capability for mechanized maneuver and assault, leveraging the PLAAF’s larger inventories of transport aircraft, particularly the Y-20; improved the sophistication of its training at home; and gleaned insights from abroad via training with foreign militaries. Nevertheless, it is uncertain to what extent the Corps is able to overcome key challenges relevant to a cross-strait campaign. These include ensuring effective integration with similar ground force and marine units; carrying out operations in complex or degraded environments; transcending the Corps’ lack of relevant combat experience; and obtaining adequate air support.