J-10 (Project 10/Project 8810?) is a multi-role single-engine fighter being
developed by Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) and 611 Institute. It has been selected by PLAAF
as the next generation fighter to replace the obsolete J-7 fighter and Q-5 attack aircraft. Shown here
is the 03 prototype approaching the runway at CAC/Factory 132 before landing, with its landing gears fully
extended. The aircraft appears to have an Su-27 style nose and retangular air intake, an AL-31F type engine,
twin nosewheels, and a distinct low-visibility camouflage color scheme. The aircraft also has a large
vertical tail plus twin F-16 style ventral stablizers believed to provide greater stability at high AoA.
Its fuselage looks considerably longer compared to Israeli Lavi. However its bubble canopy appears less
elevated than that of F-16, suggesting the pilot has yet to possess a true 360° view. Unlike J-7E with
double-delta wings, it appears to have a pair of inverted gull wings (i.e. the inner portion extends slightly
downward, while the outer portion extends flat). Two red dummy PL-8 AAMs are regularly seen carried under the
wing as well. The J-10 project was started in the mid-80s based
on the experience (tailless delta wing and canard foreplanes) with J-9 which was cancelled earlier in favor
of the less risky J-7C/MIG-21MF project. An early model of J-10
revealed a Mirage 2000 style intake with a center shock cone for better high speed performance and a Lavi
style tail section, suggesting a possible connection with the cancelled Israeli
fighter (however this was firmly denied by both parties). The change indicates that J-10 has gone
through at least one major redesign in its 10-year development period from the initial conventional layout (as
an air-superiority fighter) to the latest semi-stealthy design (as a multi-role fighter). This change may
reflect a shift of its potential adversaries from former Soviet Mig-29/Su-27 to current American F-15/F-16
after end of the Cold War. The new design will certainly be fitted with advanced avionics including a "glass cockpit" (1 wide-angle HUD + 2 monochrome MFD + 1 color MFD), HMS,
HOTAS, GPS/INS, air data computer, RWR, digital quadruplex FBW, digital fuel management system, 1553B databus,
and a new PD fire-control radar (search distance 52~148km, track 4-8 targets simutaneously). The radar
candidates include Israeli Elta EL/M 2035 (Type 1473?), Russian Phazotron Zhuk-M (Zhemchug), or the
indigenous JL-10A from LETRI (with technical assistance from Phazotron?). A variety of newly developed air-to-air (e.g. PL-8 short-range IR-guided AAM and PL-11/PL-12/SD-10
medium-range radar-guided AAM) and air-to-surface weapons (e.g. C-701 TV-guided ASM & LGBs) are also expected to
be carried under 11 hardpoints. Although it was believed to be powered initially
by a 27,560lb/12,500kg thrust AL-31FN turbofan, a modified AL-31F which itself
powers Su-27/J-11, Russia reportedly had denied China the license to produce the engine locally. As the
result, an indigenous engine (WS-10A?) may be fitted later when the serial production starts. Some US military
analysts believed that J-10 could pose a serious challenge to F/A-18E in terms of maneuverability. Some
specifications of J-10 are (estimated): empty weight 9,750kg, max TO weight 19,277kg, internal fuel
4,500kg, external load 4,500kg, g load +9/-3, max speed Mach 2.0 (high altitude)/Mach 1.2 (sea level), TO
distance <500m, combat radius 1,100km, ceiling 18,000m. The development of J-10 has proven to be tortuous.
The first prototype (01?) was rumored to have flown in 1996, but the project
suffered a serious setback in 1997 when the 02 prototype lost control and crashed, as the result of certain
system failure, presumably with either the FBW system or the engine. After careful redesign and extensive ground
test, the successful flight of the new prototype (1003/J-10A?) took
place offically on March 23, 1998, which put the project back on the track. Initially 4 prototypes (serial
numbers 1003-1006) were built undergoing various static and flight tests at CAC in Chengdu and at the CFTE in
Yanliang. Subsequently 3 more prototypes were built (1007, 1008, & 1009) as
the project is moving to the pre-production phase while PLAAF remains fully committed. The earliest service date
was expected to be 2005. By early 2002 the flight test of J-10 was near completion and the full scale
production will start in 2003 while 300 are planned. The first J-10A in production standard first flew on
June 28, 2002. Currently the first batch of 50 (? 54 AL-31FN were imported in
2001) are being produced at CAC. 10 might have been delivered to the PLAAF Flight Test & Training Center for
evaluation in summer 2002.
The latest news suggested that a tandem seat trainer/attack version (J-10B?) has already been under
development. Another advanced version with more stealth features (e.g. twin F-22 style vertical tailfins) was
planned as well.
J-11 (Su-27SK) Flanker
The last of the Su-27 second batch
is taxing on the runway before taking off. This batch of 24 Su-27s (18 Su-27SK and 6 Su-27UBK,
S: serial, K: commercial) were acquired in 1996, following the first batch (20 SK & 6 UBK, $32m each)
bought four years earlier. This heavy air-superiority fighter, combined with up to 10 AA-10 (R-27T/R,
IR/SAR homing to 50km), AA-11 (R-73, IR homing to 15km) AAMs and Sorbtsiya ECM pods, gives PLAAF for
the first time a truly offensive capability both in long-range BVR attack and short-range dog fight.
Chinese Su-27s were also seen participating in attacking
ground targets using unguided rockets and free-fall bombs. However this has raised controversy among
some western observers over the soundness of risking such high value assets to perform the dangerous
ground attack mission. Currently the first batch is operated by the 3rd Division based in Wuhu,
Anhui Province, and were demonstrated extensively duing military exercises near the Taiwan Strait.
Unfortunately, 5 Su-27s were seriously damaged during a typhoon in 1998 -- a shocking and
bizarre accident. A few more are believed to have been lost during the years of service. They were later
replaced by either imported Su-27s from Russia or locally assembled J-11s from Shenyang.
The second batch is currently operated by the 2nd Division based in Shui Xi, Guangdong Province.
More significantly, a $1.2 billion agreement to license-build 200 Su-27s (under the designation
of J-11/Project 11, domestic use only, no exports) at Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) was
reached in late 1995 and finialized at the end of 1996. An upgraded Su-27SMK with in-flight
refueling probe and Zhuk-27 radar was promoted to the Chinese, but it turned out that only the basic
(or slightly imporved) SK model is included in the production. Nevertheless, this co-production plan
would inevitably cost majority of the limited resource available to PLAAF and to Chinese aviation
industry, thus may have made some negative impact on other indigenous figher projects, such as
J-10. The first two J-11s rolled out by the end of 1998
using the kit supplied by Russian KnAAPO but were reported to have suffered quality problems. 14 were
produced in 2000 and an annual production rate of 15-20 was projected. The use of demostically made
parts will begin after the first 50 are assembled using Russian kits and eventually 60-70% of the parts
will be manufactured in China (excluding AL-31F engine, which was denied by Russia for the license).
It was also reported that Chinese are upgrading the aircraft with components designed locally or imported
from western sources (dubbed J-11A or J-11B?), such as replacing some old analog instruments
with new digital instruments and replacing AL-31F with the indigenous WS-10A. Initial batches of
J-11s are believed to have entered the service with PLAAF 1st Division in Liaoning Province.
A third batch of 28 Su-27UBKs ($35m each) were ordered in 1999
to speed up the training of qualified pilots as more J-11s are being rolled out of the assembly
line. The first 4 (#51-54?) were delivered to China by IAPO on December 14, 2000 and they are equipped
with improved fire-control radar (N-011M?) compatible with R-77/AA-12 AAM. Currently at least 18 Su-27UBKs are believed to be stationed at an airbase near
Chongqing (33rd Division) in Southwest China facing India.
Revealed as the successor of the canceled Sino-US Super-7 project, FC-1 (Fighter Export-1, max TO weight 12,104kg, max speed
1.8M, ceiling 18,000m, max weapon load 3,900kg, ferry range 3,000km, max g load +8.5) is being
developed by CAC/611 Institute (with some technical assistance from Russian Mikoyan OKB) as a "medium
tech", light weight fighter/ground attack aircraft carrying a relatively cheap price tag (~$20m).
Shown here is a full-scale mock-up constructed in early 2001. As a
fighter designed for export, its main customer is expected to be Pakistan who also shares 50% of the
total cost ($150m so far). Powered by a Russian RD-93 turbofan (an upgraded RD-33 which powers
Mig-29), it is claimed to be 70-80% capable as F-16. It might also be powered by a domestically
produced engine (Kunlun II or locally produced RD-93?) if it ever enters the service with PLAAF.
The A-6 style "V" shaped air-intakes are believed to provide smooth air flow to the engine at high AoA.
The aircraft may also be fitted with an inflight refueling probe and a deck arrester hook. Possible
candidates of fire control radar for the export version include GEC-Marconi Blue Hawk, Thomson-CSF RDY,
Phanzotron Kopyo and FIAR Grifo S7. A locally designed radar derived
from LETRI JL-10 may be installed on domestic version. Other avionics include a 25° field of view HUD, two multi-functional
displays and INS/GPS. But most of them have not been finalized. Weapon load includes both short
(AIM-9P/PL-9/Magic 2) and medium-range AAMs (Aspide/PL-12/SD-10). LGBs and laser designatin pod can
also be carried for precision strikes. Pakistan planed to acquire at least 150 Super-7s and
demanded equal commitment from PLAAF as well (dubbed J-12?). The first prototype of FC-1 was
set to fly in 1998, but the schedule was repeatedly postponed caused by various problems, such as
limited funding, the reluctance of western countries to supply advanced avionics, as well as the
revised specifications set by PAF to counter the threat from India's LCAs. These specifications
include a new analog FBW system and a true BVR attack capability. In addition, FC-1's prospect
in the domestic markte is not promising at all, as PLAAF has largely committed to the more advanced
J-10 as its next generation fighter along with Su-27/J-11 and is reluctant to take any
FC-1 due to its extensive western content and relatively low technology. The latest news
indicated that the riveting of the first prototype formally started on September 16, 2002. Its first
flightis currently set to be June 2003. Some of the FC-1 production may eventually be
transferred from CAC to Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC).
An F-22 style wind turrel model of XXJ was showned briefly in an AVIC I promotional
video at the 2002 Zhuhai Airshow. First disclosed by US Office of Naval Intellegence (ONI) in 1997, XXJ
(J-14 or Type D?) is a 4th generation fighter to enter the service around 2015. Both CAC/611 Institute and
SAC/601 Institute are working their own designs for a large twin-engine multi-role fighter with enhanced
stealth capability and maneuverability comparable to American F-22. It was speculated that 601 Institute has
been working on designs based on conventional layout while 611 Institute has
been working on designs based on canard/tailless delta wing plus belly air
intake layout since early 90s. There was a third "triplane" layout which features canard foreplanes in addition
to the conventional layout. However this configuration is believed to have been eliminated. Currently it
appears that the 601/SAC have won the competition with their F-22 style configuration. However it is still
unclear whether the aircraft will be able to fly in the next 5-7 years if everything goes smoothly. XXJ
was initially planned to be powered by two 8,500kg/RD-33 class "medium thrust" turbofan engines with
trust-vectoring nozzles to fullfill its high maneuverability requirement. A prototype of the trust-vectoring
nozzle was displayed at Zhuhai Airshow by China Aeronautical Establishment/606 Institute in 2000.
Consequently XXJ would have a 10t empty weight and a 15t normal TO weight. Now it appears that
XXJ may be powered by more powerful 12,500kg/AL-31F class "high thrust" turbofan engines which results
in a normal TO weight exceeding 20t, making it a true heavy weight fighter. The aircraft will incoporate an
advanced FBW system based upon the Active Control Technology developed by 601 Institute and tested on its
J-8IIACT technology demonstrator. Russian assistance in this project is expected too in terms of softwore
support for calculating the RCS of various designs. The overall performance of XXJ is thought to be
superior to EF-2000 and Rafale (stealth & agility) but still inferior to F-22 (electronics & supercruise).