Xian JH-7

Chinese Flying Leopard – JH-7

The Xian JH-7 Flying Leopard is Chinese fighter/bomber aircraft. The Air Force version of this aircraft was regarded as a tactical bomber and designated H-7, while the Navy version was viewed as a fighter-bomber and referred to as the JH-7.

 By the early 1980s, after three years of intensive research of this JH-7 programme, the designers still had not reached a solution that would suit both ‘cus­tomers’ (Navy and AF). The aircraft’s powerplant was likewise undefined. Hence the MoD gradually began to downgrade the importance of the programme and could have cancelled it eventually, had not the Falklands War broken out in 1982. […]

Nanchang Q-6

The Nanchang Q-6 looked like a curious combination of two different aircraft from both sides of the ‘Iron Curtain’. The centre/rear fuselage, wings and tail unit were borrowed wholesale from the MiG-23 (except that the tip of the fin was cropped horizontally, not raked). […]

Nanchang Q-5

The story of Nanchang Q-5 began in 1955 when China clashed with Taiwan in armed conflict for the Yijang-Shan Island – and captured the latter. Although the PLAAF’s Ilyushin IL-10M ground attack aircraft (NATO reporting name Bark) flying close air support (CAS) missions for the Chinese marines coped with their task, it was clear that a jet attack aircraft with supersonic performance was needed urgently.

The Shenyang aircraft factory presented a preliminary design concept in early 1958; incidentally, the students of the Shenyang Aviation Institute had a hand in the design process. […]

Xian H-6

In early 1956 the Soviet Union agreed to licence production of the Tupolev Tu-16 medi­um bomber (NATO reporting name Badger) in China, called Xian H-6.

The Xian H-6, which first flew in April 1952 and entered Soviet Air Force service in February1954, represented the then-latest state of the art in Soviet bomber design. The Tu-16 had mid-set wings with moderate sweepback and conventional swept tail surfaces; the four-wheel bogies of the main land­ing gear units retracted aft, somersaulting through 180° to lie in large fairings projecting beyond the wing trailing edge. […]

Chengdu FC-1

After the western powers pulled out of the Super 7 project in early 1990 in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the proj­ect was cancelled, China decided to carry on with the light fighter programme alone. In 1991 the Chengdu Aircraft Co. launched a new project designated Chengdu FC-1 (FC-1 – Fighter China-1) and bearing the name Xiaolong (Fierce Dragon) – primarily for the export market. The Russian ‘fighter maker’ RSK MiG was actively involved in the design process. Pakistan, the launch customer, was also a risk-sharing part­ner, accepting 50% of the development costs which amounted to some US$ 150 million; the Pakistani designation was JF-17 Thunder (JF stood for Joint Fighter). […]

Shenyang J-11

Taking due account of the Vietnam War expe­rience of operating fighters from ad hoc ‘ambush airstrips’ to intercept US strike aircraft formations, in 1969 the PLAAF posed a requirement for a light tactical fighter having short take-off and landing (STOL) capability. The Shenyang J-11 was to be a replacement for the obsolescent J-6 and, to a certain extent, the Q-5 attack aircraft.

Working together with the No. 601 Research Institute, the Shenyang Aircraft Factory explored three alternative concepts. The first one envisaged a powerplant of two uprated WP-6 III afterburning turbojets; how­ever, this engine was getting long in the tooth and may not have provided the required speed. […]

Chengdu J-9

The other concept proposed by the No. 601 Research Institute at the aforementioned con­ference of 1964 was a project designated Chengdu J-9. It was a totally different aircraft built around a single afterburning turbofan in the 8,500/ 12,400-kgp (12,790 / 27,340 lbst) dry/reheat thrust class. This was a major problem, since no engine in this class existed in China or could be sourced abroad immediately, and there was a considerable risk that powerplant development would lag behind airframe devel­opment. On the other hand, the Chengdu J-9 appeared to offer much higher performance than the Shenyang J-8, and it was decided to pursue both projects in parallel. […]

Shenyang J-8

The Shenyang J-8 is Chinese high-performance fighter-interceptor aircraft.

On 25th October 1964 the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment held a conference on the issues of high-performance fighter development. At the conference the Shenyang-based No. 601 Research Institute floated two concepts. One of them envisaged building a twin-turbojet aircraft that was, in effect, a scaled-up MiG-21F and employed the latter aircraft’s design features. This concept, which received the designation Shenyang J-8, offered the advantage of a low technical risk and ear­lier service entry and was therefore accorded higher priority by Tang Yanjie, President of the CAE. […]

Chengdu J-7 II

The Chengdu J-7

II was developed from J-7 I. It was powered by an improved WP-7B turbojet offering a 12.8% higher dry thrust, a 70% higher afterburning thrust – 6,100 kgp (13,450 lbst) versus 5,100 kgp (11,240 lbst) – and a TBO doubled to 200 hours. The aircraft reverted to the fixed-geometry air intake – apparently the Chinese version of the variable intake proved unsatisfactory A larger drop tank holding 720 litres (158.4 lmp gal) was developed for the J-7 II, replacing the original 480-litre (105.6 Imp gal) model. Changes were also made to the equipment and armament; in particular, the PL-2 AAM became a standard fit at last. Also, the brake parachute container was modified, allowing the parachute to be deployed at higher speed and reducing the landing run to less than 800 m (2,640 ft). […]

Chengdu J-7

When the Chengdu Aircraft Factory was finally commissioned, J-7 production was assigned to this factory, allowing the Shenyang Aircraft Factory to concentrate on the J-8 fighter. The first Chengdu J-7 s rolled off the Chengdu Aircraft Factory production line in June 1967. These featured a number of improvements. Some examples were identifi­able by a slight bulge at the fin/fuselage junc­tion apparently housing some new equipment. Others had the brake parachute relocated to a cylindrical container at the base of the rudder. This arrangement had been introduced on Soviet versions from the MiG-21 PFS onwards; the Chinese designers were apparently aware of this. Nevertheless, the fighter retained the original forward-hinged canopy and single cannon. […]

Shenyang J-6

In early 1958 the Shenyang factory started gearing up to build the MiG-19P. This version, called Shenyang J-6, had an RP-5 lzumrood-2 radar (the same model as fitted to late-production MiG-17PFs) with a detection range of 12 km (7.46 miles) and was armed with two 30-mm (1.18 calibre) NR-30 cannons in the wing roots. The inter¬ceptor initially received the local designation Dongfeng-103 or Type 59A but was redesig¬nated Jianjiji-6 Jia, aka Shenyang J-6A, in 1964. […]

Shenyang J-5

Shenyang J-5 is Chinese tactical fighter based on Soviet MiG-17F.

In October 1954 China decided to build the MiG-17F Fresco-C day fighter. It was powered by the VK-1F afterburning turbojet rated at 2,600 kgp (5,730 lbst) dry and 3,380 kgp (7,450 lbst) reheat; as on the earlier version. The armament comprised one 37-mm (1.45 calibre) Nudel’man N-37D cannon with 40 rounds and two 23-mm (.90 calibre) Nudel’man/Rikhter NR-23 cannons with 80 rounds per gun. This fighter (later called Shenyang J-5) was had first flown on 29th September 1951 and was then the cur¬rent production version. […]

FC-1 Fighter

The FC-1 fighter was to commence flight tests in 1998, but the programme schedule repeated­ly slipped due to technical and funding prob­lems. Among other things, the Pakistan Air Force (PAP) revised its technical requirement, demanding higher performance, while west­ern countries were reluctant to supply advanced avionics. […]

Chengdu J-10A/J-10B

The basic single-seat fighter version currently in service is designated Chengdu J-10A. 50 to 70 exam­ples have been delivered to the PLAAF so far.

The following estimated figures for the J-10A have been released. The aircraft is 14.57 m (47 ft 9 in) long and 4.78 m (15 ft 5 in) high, with a wing span of 8.78 m (28 ft 9 in). The area of the wings and the canards is 33.1 sq m (356.3 sq ft) and 5.45 sq m (58.66 sq ft) respectively. The J-10A has an empty weight of 9,750 kg (21,495 lb), a fuel load of 4,500 kg (9,921 lb) and an identical ordnance load, all of which adds up to a maximum take­off weight of 18,500 kg (40,785 lb). The fight­er can reach a top speed of Mach 1.85 at high altitude and Mach 1.2 at sea level. The service ceiling is 18,000 m (59,050 ft), the combat radius 463-555 km (287-345 miles) and the ferry range 1,850 km (1,150 miles). […]

J-10 Jet Fighter

The Chengdu J-10 jet fighter was meant to be on a par with western and Russian fourth-generation fight­ers. To this end the designers incorporated a Type 634 quadruplex digital FBW control sys­tem (tested on the J-8 II ACT) and a ‘glass cockpit’ with a wide-angle HUD and four MFDs. The fighter utilised the HOTAS princi­ples. The large bubble canopy provided the pilot with a 360° field of view; the pilot sat on a TY-6 zero-zero ejection seat. […]

Shenyang J-13

Unlike the other Chinese fighters (J-8, J-9, J-11 and J-12), Shenyang J-13 was developed by the Shenyang Aircraft Co. as a private initiative. At the turn of 1971/72 the No. 601 Research Institute tasked SAC with holding a survey in 1972 in order to find out what kind of aircraft the Air Force and Navy wanted. The survey, which involved 12 PLAAF and PLANAF units, contin­ued until late 1974. In early 1974 SAC also began probing the PLAAF leadership with a view to promoting their concept. As a result of this preparatory work a formal operational requirement for a fighter designated Shenyang J-13 was issued on 24th April 1976. […]

Nanchang J-12

A competing design to Shenyang under the light fighter pro­gramme was offered by the Nanchang Aircraft Factory. The aircraft was designated Nanchang J-12. Lu Xiaopeng, Vice-Director of the factory’s design department, was the project chief.

The Nanchang J-12 resembled a scaled-down version of the North American F-100 Super Sabre with some typical MiG features incorporated. The moderately swept wings were low-set, featur­ing a kinked trailing edge and a single tall boundary layer fence on each side at two- thirds span; the tail unit comprised a sharply swept trapezoidal fin (plus a ventral fin) and low-set moderately swept stabilators. […]

J-11 Fighter

The PLAAF was the first true export customer for the Sukhoi Su-27, operating the single-seat SU-27SK Flanker-B and the two-seat Su-27UBK Flanker-C since June 1992. After taking delivery of 48 Russian-built examples, China decided it wanted to build their own the Su-27 – Shenyang J-11 Fighter. On 6th December 1996 the Russian military sales organisation Rosvo’oruzheniye (now Rosoboronexport) signed a licensing agreement worth an estimat­ed US$ 2.7 billion with the Shenyang Aircraft Co., allowing the latter to manufacture 200 Su-27SKs – subject to the proviso that they would not be exported. […]

J-8 Fighter

The Shenyang J-8’s layout with the nose air intake did not permit installation of a modern fire control radar, severely limiting the aircraft’s usefulness as an interceptor. Also, a need was perceived to enhance the fighter’s manoeuvrability – a realisation brought about by the service entry of fourth-generation fighters abroad. Hence in 1980 the No. 601 Research Institute (SARI) began exploring a radical redesign of the interceptor. Designated Shenyang J-8 fighter II, the new aircraft followed the trend set by such fighters as the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II and the MiG-23. […]

Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack

Tupolev “Heaviest bomber” – Blackjack

The Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack is heaviest and most powerful combat bomber aircraft of all time. This strategic bomber was built to a programme which began in 1967 when DA (long- range aviation) Gen-Col Reshetnikov studied the Sukhoi T-4MS (so-called ‘200’) and Myasishchev M- 20. VVS chief Kutakhov assigned Sukhoi smaller aircraft, but the excel­lence of the M-20 led to its adoption, after modification as the M-18, with a horizontal tail instead of a canard. With so big a project CAHI’s top men, Byushgens and Svishchyev, led the aerodynamic backing. It was finally decided only Tupolev was big enough to tackle the job. […]

Air Force F-14

Perhaps the largest potential order for the Tomcat (other than the Navy) was from the US Air Force. The Air Force instituted a series of studies (Advanced Manned Interceptor, CONUS Interceptor, etc.) during 1971-72 for a new interceptor and had considered a wide variety of possibilities, including a modified Lockheed YF-12A, an improved General Dynamics F-106, the McDonnell Douglas F-15 and the Grumman F-14. The YF-12 and F-106 were dropped from consideration in late-1971, and the F-14 was generally rated at par or slightly superior than the F-15 in the intercep­tor role. The studies later included a stretched, F100 powered F-111, designated F-111X-7, and a modified North American RA-5C pow­ered by three J79s and designated NR-349. […]

Advanced Tomcat

In early 1989, Grumman proposed an upgrad­ed F-14D to the Navy as an alternative to buy­ing the Navy Advanced Tactical Fighter. This program is generally thought of as the Tomcat  21 project, especially after Aviation Week ran a series of articles on that aircraft. However, in reality Tomcat- 21 referred to just one of three proposals for an Advanced Tomcat. In order from the least expensive and quickest upgrade to the most sophisticated, the pro­posals were called QuickStrike, Tomcat 21, and ASF-14. […]

F-14D Supertomcat

In August 1984, the Navy awarded Grumman a $984 million fixed-price contract for improved versions of the F-14 and A-6. The new Tomcat would be known as the F-14D or Supertomcat.

The F-14D designation had originally been unofficially assigned to a cost-reduced, stripped version of the Tomcat, proposed at a time when the rapidly-increasing cost of the F-14A was causing great concern. This project never achieved fruition, and since the desig­nation was never officially used, it was avail­able for the next production version. […]

F-14B Tomcat

The F-14B Tomcat was developed version of the F-14A, with the primary difference being that advanced turbofan engines would be used. These engines would overcome the one significant shortcoming of the basic F-14A. that of being slightly overweight and thus somewhat underpowered. It was anticipated that essentially the same avionics suite used in the F-14A would be employed in the F-14B and the seventh development F-14A  served as a testbed for the F401 engines originally intended for the F-14B. The new engine had been expected to be available for installation in the 68th aircraft. It was anticipated that the F-14B would have a 40 percent better turning radius, 21 percent bet­ter sustained g-capability, and an 80 percent greater radius of action. […]