China's air force will debut two new aerial demonstration teams this week as part of its growing sophistication and increasingly prominent public role, the Defense Ministry announced Tuesday.
The Sky Wing and Red Falcon teams will take part Thursday in a joint performance in the northeastern city of Changchun, along with the air force's 50-year-old Bayi squadron of senior pilots, the ministry said in a notice posted on its official website.
Zhao Jingbo, deputy director of the air force's training department, was quoted as saying the teams will promote international exchanges and education, along with awareness of China's aerospace interests and flight safety.
"The three teams can exchange experience and rise together," Zhao said.
The two new teams are attached to air force flight schools and have a total of 34 pilots. They will perform using China's domestically developed Jiao-8 and Chujiao-6 trainers, the ministry said.
Buoyed by annual double-digit percentage increases in the national defense budget, China's air force has undergone a major upgrade in recent years, rolling out new planes such as the J-10 fighter and starting flight tests on a future stealth aircraft.
The air force also took the unprecedented step of dispatching a pair of transport planes to Libya this year to aid in the evacuation of about 35,000 Chinese workers trapped by fighting.