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4th Independent Regiment

China's strategic air capability is limited to a small force of medium bombers assigned to the People's Liberation Army Force (CCAF) 4th Independent Regiment (4th IR). This force currently consists of about 15 bomber squadrons equipped with about 120 Hong-6 bombers.

The 4th IR came into existence with the delivery of 10 TU-4 BULL propeller medium bombers to Peking in February 1953. In following years three more of these aircraft were acquired from the Soviets, and in January 1959 China received two TU-16 BADGER medium jet bombers from the USSR. China began producing the BADGER at the Hsian Airframe Plant in 1968 and by 1972 had 32 BADGERs in the operational inventory in addition to 12 BULLs. An additional 19 BADGERs have been produced but hade not yet been turned over to the 4th IR as of 1972.

From 1953 until 1971 the 4th IR had only three home bases. The original 10 BULLs remained at Peking from February 1953 until March of that year when they moved to Shihchiachuang Takuotsun. They remained there for one year, moving back to Peking in March 1954. Then in February of 1955 the unit moved to Wukung, its present home base. From 1955 until 1971 all 4th IR aircraft were based at Wukung; however, since mid-1971 the BULLs were at Nanshui Airfield and since late-1971 six-BADGERs were at Tatung Chingshuiho. It is possible that Manshui and Tatung housed 4th IR aircraft on a permanent basis with the expansion to those bases made necessary by continued production and deployment of BADGERs.

In addition to 4th IR home bases, aircraft from this unit have operated for short periods of time from numerous other air bases in China. The BADGERs have been detected operating from Kucheng, Huaite, Shuangchengtzu, Wushihtala, and possibly from Wuwei, Nanching Tachiaochang, and Kaerhmu.

There has been no apparent relation between disposition of 4th IR aircraft and international events; however, the move in 1955 from Peking to Wukung may have been for defense purposes -- to improve survivability in the event of air attack.

Medium bomber crew training began almost immediately upon receipt of BULLs in 1953 and progressed steadily until extensive long-range night bombing training was noted in late 1954. By 1956, BULL crews were considered proficient in medium altitude bombing under instrument flight conditions.

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