Air Force Engineering University


The Air Force Engineering University (AFEU) is designated very high risk for its research into air defence systems, aviation engineering and unmanned systems.

The Air Force Engineering University (AFEU) is one of the PLA’s five comprehensive universities alongside NUDT, Naval Engineering University, PLA Information Engineering University and Army Engineering University. It trains students in a variety of engineering and military disciplines related to air combat.

AFEU currently has around 8,000 students, including 1,600 postgraduate students. Its priority areas include technical studies in information and communication systems engineering as well as in social sciences such as in professional military training. Research into unmanned aerial vehicle technology is another important area of research at the university. In 2017, China’s Ministry of Education ranked AFEU equal fourth for armament science out of nine universities, only awarding it a B- grade for the discipline.

Colleges under AFEU include:

  • Aviation Engineering School (航空工程学院)
  • Air Defence and Anti-Missile School (防空反导学院)
  • Information and Navigation School (信息与导航学院)
  • Air Control and Navigation School (空管领航学院)
  • Equipment Management and Unmanned Systems Engineering School (装备管理与无人机工程学院)
  • Graduate School (研究生院)
  • Flight Maintenance Cadet Academy (航空机务士官学校)

Major defence laboratories

AFEU is home to the Science and Technology on Plasma Dynamics Key State Laboratory (等离子体动力学国家级重点实验室/航空等离子体动力学国防科技重点实验室). This is the first national laboratory to focus on research into the aerospace applications of plasma physics.

Economic espionage and misconduct

New Zealand Member of Parliament Yang Jian completed an English language major at the Air Force Engineering University, then known as the Air Force Engineering College (空军工程学院). After graduating in 1982 he stayed on as a lecturer, teaching English to intelligence officers. He later worked and studied at the PLA Foreign Languages University (解放军外国语学院) in Luoyang, an institution that primarily trains intelligence officers.

While studying at the Australian National University in the 1990s, Yang studied at the Australian National University, during which time he interned at the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade and chaired the Canberra Chinese Students and Scholars Association.

Australian media states that Yang did not mention his affiliatons with the PLA in his New Zealand citizenship application, instead claiming that he worked and studied at Luoyang University (洛阳大学) between 1978 and 1982—the period when he was studying at the Air Force Engineering University. Luoyang University was only established in 1980. Yang maintains he did not lie about his background: ‘It is not a false declaration. When I left China I was asked by the system to use my partnership universities.’

Yang’s close ties to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) united front were documented in “Magic Weapons” by Anne-Marie Brady, a 2017 report detailing the CCP’s political influence activities in New Zealand. “Yang has been a central figure promoting and helping to shape the New Zealand National government’s China strategy and been responsible for their engagement with the New Zealand Chinese community,” Brady wrote.

Defence and security links

AFEU engages with a variety of civilian universities in China. The university has hosted drone tournaments attended by the National University of Defense Technology, Northwestern Polytechnical University and Xiamen University. ; AFEU is also reported to engage in significant research collaboration with Xi’an Jiaotong University, and jointly trains postgraduate students with Tsinghua University.

Noteworthy international collaborations

Exchange students: According to a 2017 report in the Liberation Army Daily, AFEU hosts exchange students from around twenty unnamed foreign militaries to train alongside serving officers of the PLA Air Force. From precisely which countries these exchange students come remains unclear.

Engineering Contests: AFEU is reported to send ‘a select group of outstanding postgraduate students overseas for further study.’ Included in a report on AFEU from the Liberation Army Daily is a photograph of PLA Air Force personnel together with what appears to be foreign scientists, after having one ‘first place’ in an engineering contest entitled ‘Future Flight Design’ in 2015. Though the nationalities of the foreign scientists cannot be confirmed, a banner for the ‘Future Flight Design’ contest is included with the flags of members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization such as France and Turkey. 

Last updated 25 November 2019. Unclear about any wording? Visit the terminology page.