Straight from the “now that’s something you don’t see every day” files, here’s an image showing US Air Force chief of staff Gen Mark Welsh sitting in the cockpit of a Chinese combat aircraft.
Before any red phones start ringing hot, no, he hasn’t defected as a result of sequestration cuts or the government shutdown in Washington DC, but was on a good-will visit of several locations in China when he tried out a Chengdu J-10 cockpit for size. Pictured at the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s Nanyuan air base in this USAF shot, the aircraft in question looks to be in the livery of the service’s aerobatic display team, rather than being a frontline fighter. All the same, it’s pretty extraordinary to see.
“Airmen understand airmen and the value of airpower,” says Welsh in a statement. The first USAF leader to visit China in 15 years, he adds: “Our relationship with the PLAAF is important for many reasons, and we look forward to working to strengthen it together.”
Despite the positive noises being made following their get-together, I reckon PLAAF commander Gen Ma Xiaotian probably shouldn’t be expecting to get into the seat of an F-22 Raptor any time soon.
In case you haven’t seen it already on our FG Club site, Dave Majumdar’s update of the USAF’s F-22 upgrade activities and intentions is essential reading. You can login to read it here, or register for free to get access.