Support: Chinese Women Run The Landing Zone

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November 17, 2011: The Chinese Air Force recently publicized the fact that they use female personnel for their airborne scout force. The airborne scouts take control of a landing zone after the initial combat jump by paratroopers, and coordinate subsequent air drops (usually of supplies), handle communications and scouting the immediate area for areas that can be used for storing and moving supplies and setting up other support facilities. The airborne scouts are armed and equipped for combat, as the landing zone will often remain under enemy fire for a while, or even subject to counterattack by enemy ground forces.

The Chinese military has been expanding its use of female troops. The air force has introduced female combat pilots in the past decade. Two years ago, they developed special flight suits for their female fighter pilots. The fighter pilots chosen (well, probably ordered) to act as models for the new attire, looked a bit uncomfortable. But the flight suits seemed to fit. Special flight suits for female military pilots are nothing new. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that, compared to men's flight suits, those for women have to deal with narrower shoulders, smaller necks and waists, shorter upper torsos, and shorter legs.

As Western armed forces have learned, combat uniforms for women need to adapt to the different shape of women to be effective. Thus combat uniforms, and body armor, is being designed in male and female patterns. China likes to show off progress in this area, providing more information about women in the military in the process.

It was only two years ago that China had its first 16 female fighter pilots graduated from a 44 month course. This was also given a lot of publicity. The young lieutenants (age 21-24) were not the first female Chinese military pilots, as there were already 52 in service (flying non-combat aircraft) and another 545 in training. There are now several hundred female military pilots in the Chinese Air forces.

Worldwide, women are increasingly part of the military. In many nations, over ten percent of military personnel are female. A century ago, it was under one percent (and most of those were nurses and other medical personnel.) More women are in uniform now because there aren't enough qualified men, especially for many of the technical jobs armed forces now have to deal with.

 


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