Wanted: China's next top guns

Story highlights

  • China wants 1,000 male junior high school students for pilot training
  • The country seeks to strengthen its navy and air force

Hong Kong (CNN)The search is on for China's teen top guns.

China said Monday it has selected 16 high schools to offer pilot training as the country's armed forces seek to attract better qualified recruits.
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    The schools, in 11 provinces across the country, will recruit 1,000 male junior high school students aged between 14 to 16, the China Daily reported.
    Successful applicants will receive flight training and "military standard" physical training in addition to their regular high-school studies.
    It's the latest attempt by the People's Liberation Army's air force to attract more talent.
    Last year, it said it would require wannabe pilots to take psychological assessments and a flight simulation test.
    China's military has traditionally been focused on winning land battles and is now making efforts to improve its air and naval power in the pursuit of what President Xi Jinping has called "balanced strength."
    J-10 fighter jets perform at the Airshow China 2014 in Zhuhai, south China's Guangdong province on November 12, 2014.
    "China has made many strides in the development of advanced aircraft, but it must make sure there can be sufficient, well-trained pilots to fly them," Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine told The China Daily last month.
    The recruits will receive a stipend and board at the schools.
    Traditionally, serving in the military has not been a sought-after career in China and a U.S. report on China's military transformation released last month singled out the quality and professionalism of new recruits as a major challenge.
    Many are still drawn from rural areas with limited education, while country's one-child policy, which has created the "little emperor" phenomenon of spoiled children, produces recruits who "may not be tough enough to withstand military discipline," the report added.
    To this end, China has been making efforts to recruit more high school and college graduates as it modernizes its armed forces.
    On completing the three-year program, students will take a pilot selection test, and those who pass will join a PLA flight academy and those who fail can choose to enter other military universities or civilian institutes.