A J-15 fighter jet takes off at the Liaoning aircraft carrier in this undated file photo. (Photo/Xinhua)
The People's Liberation Army Navy has started selecting graduates from junior high schools in 14 provincial-level regions for its teen aviator program.
The selection process began in late March in 14 provinces and municipalities including the provinces of Henan, Shandong, Hubei, and Jiangxi and Chongqing municipality, involving nearly 4,500 qualified applicants, according to the Navy's flight student recruitment office.
Approved by the Navy and the Ministry of Education, the program was launched in 2015 and aims to attract students who are interested in aviation and are fit for military flight.
The idea is to establish a talent pool for the Navy's shipborne aviation units.
Male students in the third grade of junior high school in the 14 cooperating provincial-level regions are encouraged to apply for the program.
Before the teen program, all candidates selected by the Navy for its naval aviation training programs were graduates of senior high school.
According to the Navy's recruitment office, applicants for this year's teen aviator program should be born between Aug 31,2006, and Aug 31, 2009; have a height between 162 and 181 centimeters; and be neither too thin nor overweight.
Candidates must be free of diseases such as meningitis or nephritis, and blood pressure and vision must meet the Navy's standards for its pilots.
Other criteria include clean political, legal and study records, consent from legal guardians, a strong mind, mental and physical agility, and a certain level of proficiency in English.
After passing all rounds of selection, dozens of applicants will be enrolled in the program at a cooperating high school in each of the 14 provincial-level regions, the recruitment office said.
During the three-year program, students will be given lectures and training on naval and flight knowledge and will be managed like military cadets.
In summer and winter vacations, the students will take part in tours to naval schools and front units to visit warships and talk with experienced pilots.
They will also have the opportunity to operate aircraft on their own in the presence of veteran aviators.
After three years, those who pass necessary tests will be admitted to naval aviation academies or some of China's top universities that collaborate with the Navy for pilot training.