BHARAT RAKSHAK MONITOR - Volume 6(3) November December 2003

 

A Summary of PRC Fighter Aircraft Development 

P. Chacko Joseph

Introduction

Media attention has focused on the recent flights of the J-10[i] fighter and the JF-17 `Thunder’ fighter[ii] in China. Both these aircraft programs are advertised as being total indigenous development programs. While it is not possible to really comment in detail about the indigenous content of these programs, it is possible to view their development in the context of other efforts by aviation scientists and engineers in the PRC to develop and produce a fighter aircraft of their own.  Perhaps by looking at the history of PRC fighter development we can gain some insight into the current programs. In this piece the author will focus on the aircraft development programs and also discuss the concurrent technology and competency buildup in the PRC aviation research and development sector.

From the J-2 to the J-7

Aviation industry began in the PRC in the 1950s.Initial emphasis was placed by the PRC authorities on gaining access to jet engine technology. This was identified as the first step of a modern aircraft industry[iii]. To this end China received large amounts of Soviet aid. Till October 1951, the Soviets sent approximately nine hundred engineers and specialists to China to help it start the construction of MiG-15 fighters. This Sino-Soviet cooperation was in the context of the Korean War and three aviation repair factories were setup in Harbin, Shenyang and Zhuzhou[iv]. Of these the Shenyang Aircraft Manufacture Factory tried on its own to build a two-seat trainer version of the MiG-15UTI dubbed as JJ-2s[v]. However the Shenyang Factory could not manufacture the single-seat fighter version it and the factory was just used to repair and maintain Soviet built planes from the Korean War effort. In that process the factory was able to service close five hundred Mig-15UTI aircraft. The JJ-2 was eventually produced in limited numbers and sold to Pakistan, Albania, Bangladesh, North Vietnam, North Korea and Tanzania as an aircraft trainer under the designation FT-2[vi].

As the years progressed the Shenyang Aircraft Manufacture Factory license built the MiG-17 Fresco that was dubbed the J-5. The first Chinese license built MiG-17 flew on August 2, 1956[vii]. Production of the J-5 was transferred to the Chengdu Aircraft Manufacture Corporation and with Soviet help a trainer aircraft called JJ-5 was built ten years later. The JJ-5 was first flown on 8th May 1966 and entered service in the following year. It is still used by the PLAAF as a basic jet trainer[viii].

Next license production run in China was the MiG-19 or J/F-6, after a contract to that effect was signed with the USSR in 1958[ix]. The J-6 was China’s first supersonic fighter. It was manufactured at the Shenyang and Chengdu aircraft factories. The first J-6 took to flight on September 30th 1959 at Shenyang[x]. However there were a number of quality problems with the first prototype and more effort was put into the J-6. A production prototype for the J-6 flew in 1961[xi]. J-6 variants remained in PLAAF service into the 1990s and at least on J-6 variant was used to test FBW concepts.  The F-6 was sold in large number to the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan’s Kamra Aircraft Factory actually started life as the F-6 rebuild factory built in the 1980s with Chinese assistance[xii].

The Nanchang Q-5 (western designation A-5) was a developed by Hongdu Aircraft Industry as a close support and ground attack fighter. The Q-5 project began in 1958 and was an off-shoot of the J-6 program. Construction of the first prototype began in May 1960 but the program was cancelled in 1961. The program was reinitiated in 1963 and the first flight was on June 1965[xiii]. The testing program highlighted many lacunae in the aircraft and these were addressed in the modifications made to the next two prototypes that flew in late 1969. The first production aircraft were delivered from 1970. The Q-5 retains the rear fuselage and the engine of the J-6, but features a stretched fuselage with an internal weapons bay, side mounted air intakes, a new conical nose and larger wings with less sweepback. Later versions developed in the 70s offered incremental upgrades on range, payload and electronics. A Q-5 version was successfully configured to drop a 15 Kt nuclear payload. A thousand or so Q-5 aircraft were built and the A5-C variant was sold to Pakistan[xiv]. Other versions were sold to Bangladesh, Myanmar, and North Korea. A naval version was also developed and in the 80s, a Q-5 version with improved avionics was attempted. This version however did not find buyers. The Q-5 was a successful attempt by the PRC at modifying an existing design to suit a different purpose.

In an article on Chinese fighter development Jack Collins discusses three other attempts made by Aviation authorities in China to build an indigenous fighter aircraft. These are referred to as the Dong Feng (East Wind) 104, DF-107, DF-113[xv]. The DF-104 was a conceptual design study performed at the Shenyang Aircraft Factory under Soviet guidance. The DF-107 was an attempt at designing an expanded version of the DF-104 that was similar to the Soviet attempts in the Ye series for the Mig-21. Given the conceptual complexities it was abandoned in favor of the DF-113. The DF-113 was an even more ambitious project than the other two; it called for the development on an onboard radar and computer. The DF-113 drew on the American F-104, F-105, and the B-58 for conceptual input and it was to be capable of Mach 2.5 at high altitude. The project was abandoned due to developmental difficulties and due to the Soviet willingness to transfer tech for the Mig-21. The design aims of the DF-104, 107 and the 113 represent something between the existing capabilities of the F-6 and the Mig-21. As you progress from to the DF-113 you see the emergence of more complicated avionics aims, which would have been considerably difficult to manufacture in China at the time, but all taken together, these three projects underscore the ambitious nature of aviation thinkers in the early years of the Chinese fighter development program.

The J-7 Story

By 1961 Soviets licensed the manufacture of the MiG-21F or J-7 with the engine to China. However in this period ties between the USSR and the PRC cooled considerably and the Mig-21 license manufacture deal collapsed. The PRC side accused the Soviets of deliberately supplying poor quality designs and equipment. The PRC aviation team had to completely redo the design work for the J-7 and at the same time they had to build their version of the RF-11F300 engine, now called the WP-7 (Wopen-7) on their own[xvi].  The first J-7 with Chinese reverse engineered components was produced in 1964. It was first tested on January 17th 1966. However the well laid plans by PRC aviation planners to manufacture large numbers of J-7 fighters were frustrated due to the Cultural Revolution.  

The first production run for the J-7 was started at the Chengdu Aircraft Factory by 1967. Copies of the J-7-I were also marketed to other countries like Albania and Tanzania. This variant had a single gun and two under-wing pylons and had several problems including complaints about the lack of an escape system. The sale of the J-7-I (F-7A) was possible in the third world only because the corresponding Soviet version of the Mig-21F-13 was out of production[xvii]. Throughout the Cultural Revolution, the PRC Aviation community was in a state of stasis, it could not implement any serious aviation development. Things only changed towards the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976[xviii].

In 1975 Chinese aviation engineers carried out some minor modifications on the J-7 I and christened it the J-7-II (F-7B). This variant first flew on 30th December 1978, and a production run was started in 1980. This variant had the ability to carry various air-air missiles like the PL-2, the PL-7, and Matra-Magic. The F-7B was exported to Egypt, Iraq and Sri Lanka.

At the start of the 1980s the PRC aviation community led by the Ministry for Aerospace began to call for the development of a Chinese variant of the Mig-21-MF. This was designated the J-7 III. In a fashion identical to that of the USSR, the Ministry also insisted on the inclusion of better avionics suites in the same basic airframe[xix]. This J-7 III first flew on 26 April 1984[xx]. The development run was jointly undertaken by Chengdu and Guizhou (GAIC). The emphasis on avionics resulted in the import of key components and work commenced on an upgraded J-7 version called the Air Guard. The Air Guard which first appeared in 1984 had improved radar capabilities and a GEC Marconi Heads-Up Display. There were other minor improvements including higher fuel capacity, some structural changes, a better radio and a navigation system. The engine of the Air Guard however was identical to the earlier J-7 variant. The Air Guard demonstrated the PRC Aviation community’s ability to carry out systems integration of western avionics with a Chinese built platform. Orders for the Air Guard came in from Bangladesh, Iran, Egypt, Myanmar and Zimbabwe. The Pakistan Air Force asked for additional modifications and this version was designated the F-7P. The first J-7 III entered PLAAF service in 1993; it had a large number of Chinese copies of major avionics systems including an Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor, a RWR, an ECM jammer and a flight data recorder[xxi].

In 1987 the Americans proposed to redesign the J-7 around a GE F404 turbofan. This variant was designated the “multi-role Super 7”  By 1986 China signed a $550 million agreement with Grumman Corp to modernize 55 of its fleet of J-7 fighters under the so-called "Super-7" upgrade. The development of the "Super 7” was kept in cold storage following the Tiananmen massacre of 1989, when the US stopped all help. Later the Chinese planned to build the plane around MiG-27 Engine but the Russians refused to supply the engine. With Pakistani financial support, the Chengdu Aircraft Company continued the program as a multinational venture. In 1995 MiG OKB worked with CATIC (China’s National Aero Technology Import Export Corporation) to help with structural changes and offered the Klimov RD-33 engine and thus Super-7 was reborn as the FC-1. The Super-7 marks PRC aviations first attempt to design a truly multi-role aircraft[xxii].

The FC-1 project was launched in 1992; it had considerable participation from the Pakistani Government[xxiii]. The PAF had participated in the design studies with CATIC and the Pakistani Government transferred a single F-16A fighter to CATIC in the 1990s. This transfer improved CATIC’s understanding of the performance of a modern multi-role fighter and helped develop a benchmark for the FC-1’s performance requirements. This resulted in the incorporation of several complicated design requirements into the FC-1. To ensure high quality avionics China turned to Israel and several European countries for help with the plane's development[xxiv]. The FC-1 represents a conservative Chinese approach to the design of a light combat aircraft. At every stage the FC-1’s requirements were kept low ensuring that with a minimum development overhead the aircraft could be produced. The first FC-1 flight took place on August 25, 2003 and it is expected to enter production by 2006[xxv].

The Guizhou Aviation Industry Corporation (GIAC) was assigned the task of producing a conversion trainer for the J-7. This aircraft would be identical to the Mig-21US. The first JJ-7 project was started in 1982 and the first prototype flew in July 1985[xxvi]. The JJ-7 entered service in 1986, and differs from the J-7 in that it has duplicated controls for the instructor and a periscope. It also has a failure simulation system to enable improved training of pilots. The JJ-7 (FT-7) was sold to all J-7B and J-7 III customers. The PAF eventually purchased FT-7Pand FT-7PG versions with minor additional features.

A derivative of the JJ-7 called the FTC-2000 is currently under development at GAIC[xxvii]. This is supposed to be a 4th generation fighter trainer, but no clear details are available on the status of this project. It is suggested that the FTC-2000 is based on the FC-1. So if the development cycles are similar then it is possible that the FTC-2000 will fly about two years from now.

The story of the J-7 is not a story of re-engineering in the strictest sense of the word; it is a story of perseverance and determination. Though China did not develop the platform, the J-7 is China’s most successful fighter program to date. The long and painful development cycle of the J-7 platform has allowed the PRC aviation industry to acquire a vast range of manufacturing capabilities and train a generation of professionals in aviation technology. By engaging in a program of incremental improvement the PRC aviation community has gained considerable experience in the field of systems integration and product management.  With the J-7 the PRC aggressively entered the highly competitive Mach 2 fighter market and carved a niche for itself. The `J-7’ philosophy will influence Chinese aviation thinking in the future.

The J-8 effort

The first serious attempt at innovation in the PRC aviation circles took place in the heat of the Cultural Revolution. This innovation was motivated by the heightened threat perception over the U-2 flights undertaken by the ROCAF under the CIA’s guidance. The PLAAF asked the 601 Institute and the Shenyang Aircraft Manufacturing Factory to come up something that could do better than the J-7 in terms of endurance and altitude[xxviii]. In this period the J-7 effort was depleted and for a while resources were focused on the `J-8’ project. In 1969 even this was shut down due political pressures and all innovation stopped till 1976[xxix].

The 601 Institute `up gunned’ the J-7 and placed two WP-7 engines into a slightly modified MiG-21 fuselage. The maiden flight of this new fighter called the J-8 was in July 5, 1969. The Cultural Revolution however completely undermined the effort. The aircraft was capable of Mach 2.2 flight at 60,000 feet[xxx]. Development work resumed by 1976 and the prototype flew on 24th April 1978. The prototype accumulated 663 flying hours in 1,025 flights. In 1979 a small-scale production was authorized. The program received a minor setback when the J-8-I prototype crashed in June 1980, and a second prototype flew on Apri1 1981[xxxi]. Despite this quick entry in service the aircraft remained under continuous testing for the better part of the 1980s.

The J-8 variants that flew in 1980 offered performance similar to the Su-15 `Flagon’. These variants featured a small ranging radar and IR homing missiles. A production run put about a hundred of these aircraft into PLAAF service but a lot of development work remained. The GAIC soon produced better armed variants called the J-8-II. They also modified the intake for the engines and this offered improved performance.

The J-8-II was also subject to the same `modernization’ pressures as the J-7. A J-8 upgrade deal was worked out with the US under the `Peace Pearl’ initiative. As a part of this deal two prototypes of the J-8-II were sent to the US for upgrade in 1986. Around 50 J-8s were earmarked for to be upgrade under a USD 500 million FMS-funded program by Grumman Corp. and 55 spare avionics packages were to be procured between March 1990 and early 1992. However due to the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 this cooperation was cancelled. The PRC aviation community subsequently turned again to the Soviets for help. The Soviets had considerable experience with the Mig-23/27 and the Ye-152 design which the applied to the J-8. This interaction improved the reliability of the J-8 and a new variant called the J-8-III was eventually developed. Soviet help was also necessary in the area of radar and avionics. The final result of this work was the J-8-III, which featured additional control surfaces like canards. These changes came a little late for the PLAAF, as it had already procured a number of pieces, and thus were forced to keep them in service.

The J-8 effort cannot really be termed a success story. Though it was PRC’s first all weather interceptor, the J-8 platform had a very long development period totalling fifteen years. Even the J-8-III didn’t have very desirable performance. In terms of innovative design the J-8 scheme was an exact copy of the approach used to go from the J-6 to the Q-5, although the complexity level was higher. Another interesting feature was the development of small amounts of multi-role capability. The high cost of the J-8 forced the PLAAF to upgrade its J-8 stocks on a block wise basis. The GAIC continues to develop the J-8 and newer versions with FBW control, an all glass cockpit and air-to-air refueling probes are currently in the works[xxxii].

As no foreign orders were received for this airplane, the PLAAF continues to be the sole sponsor of the J-8 program. It is reasonable to expect some more development work on the J-8 but as aviation design goes, the J-8 has reached the limits of its promised potential. The J-8 can mildly be termed at the PRC’s first successful attempt at making a White Elephant.  

FBC-1/ JH-7 Xian Fighter-Bomber project (The "Flying Leopard")

In 1973 the PLAAF put in a requirement for a tandem-seat fighter-bomber with the Xian Aircraft Company and the 603 Institute. This project was designated as the H-7 and secured government approval in 1977. The emphasis was on an all weather airplane capable of night operations. At some point the PLANAF also expressed interest in the project for possible anti-ship roles and this created a number of complications. Finally the PLANAF was able to take the lead and a prototype first flew in December 1988[xxxiii].

A long period of testing followed the first flight. In this period one prototype crashed and two test pilots were killed due to engine failure. The first squadron was believed to have been raised in 1996 but the due to the old design and its lack of adequate power plants the design was rejected by PLAAF in favor of Su-30MKK. The PLANAF continued to support the project and it is believed that the at least 18 new JH-7 powered by Rolls Royce Spey Mk 202 engines are in service with the PLAN. Its export version is dubbed FBC-1 (Fighter/Bomber Export-1), which was unveiled at Zhuhai International Airshow in November 1998, but has yet to attract any foreign customers[xxxiv].

The XAC also built the JH-7A (Flying Leopard II), an improved variant where the engines have been replaced by indigenous WS-9 turbofans. An instrument pod (Russian AKR-8) provides enemy radar emission parameters to the Russian Kh-31P anti-radiation missiles that are carried on the platform. Two prototypes have been built so far. The first JH-7A prototype flew on July 1, 2002[xxxv].

The JH-7 project is China’s first dedicated maritime strike aircraft. Though the project’s future is somewhat cloudy given the PLAAF’s lack of interest, it is important to note that the JH-7A variants have given the PRC aviation community experience in integration of modern ground targeting systems and ECM packages. The JH-7 project will influence the PLANAF’s handling of future aviation projects.

The Re-designated J-10 – Multi-role fighter

In the early 80s the Israeli Aircraft Industries Corp. (IAI) was contracted by the IDF-AF to produce a multi-role fighter. The Israelis hoped to create an airplane that would counter to the growing threat of Arab Air Forces equipped with American aircraft. This project was named the Lavi. Due to the lack of technology and finances in Israel the aircraft was to have a large US component. This US part of the project was to be paid for in FMS credits. In 1980 the design of the Lavi began and the project went through several workups. However the US quickly realized that there was little point in paying Israel to create a competitor to its F-16, or F-18 airplanes and due to US pressure the Lavi project was cancelled[xxxvi].

It is said that somewhere during the development of the Lavi. The PRC aviation community established contact with their Israeli counterparts at IAI and expressed interest in the Lavi project. With the departure of the Americans, the PRC stepped in and acquired the project. Sometime in 1987-88, the Lavi project was re-christened the J-10 or Project 10 at Chengdu Aircraft Company (CAC). As the PRC requirement was somewhat different from the Israeli requirement, the project underwent a complete redefinition[xxxvii].

The CAC turned to Russia for an engine to power its J-10 prototype. The Russians agreed to transfer a number of Lyulka Saturn Al-31F turbofan engines to the CAC for the initial period. The first prototype of the J-10 is believed to have flown in 1996 and long period of testing followed. The first production model flew in June 28, 2002. The CAC estimates speak of an induction of the J-10 by 2006[xxxviii].

The J-10 features several modern fighter features like a FBW system, a number of modern Pilot Vehicle Interfaces like a reverse engineered Ukrainian HMS system and a glass cockpit. The J-10 also advertises a full fledged multi-role capability and some reports speak of a naval version for the PLANAF[xxxix]. The J-10 represents an attempt by the Chinese aviation industry to imbibe the cutting edge western aviation design concepts and philosophies to produce something suited to the PLAAF’s needs. The J-10 looks impressive on paper, but little is actually known about its performance. The project itself was carried out in considerable secrecy at least some of this must have to do with the need to suppress knowledge of the Israeli cooperation. 

The Su-27 (Re-designated J-11) License Manufacture at Shenyang

As the Gulf War of 1990 progressed, a stunned PLA leadership watched as the US forces rapidly overcame Iraqi forces after a devastating display of air power. The realization that a focused air campaign could completely politically overwhelm an adversary caused a sense of panic in the PRC aviation community. The situation along the Taiwan straits and the Spratly Islands began to look quite ominous. The presence of similar US led high-tech rapid reaction forces in these areas brought a Gulf War type scenario uncomfortably close to the PLA. However all was not lost, the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 also brought with it some incredible opportunities.

The Chinese revived diplomatic ties with the Russian federation by quickly resolving a series of outstanding border disputes[xl],[xli],[xlii],[xliii]. With a sizeable reserve of hard currency in place, China looked to cash strapped Russia as a source of high technology products[xliv]. Among the first things that China was looking to buy from Russia at the time was the `fearsome’ Sukhoi Su-27 “Flanker”. The Su-27 had acquired an almost mythical reputation among western analysts at the time[xlv]. It was seen as a serious challenge to western airpower. So in this the PLAAF saw the opportunity to build a working conventional deterrent based on the Su-27.

After the initial agreement was signed in 1990, the PLAAF imported 48 Su-27SK fighters from the Komsomolsk-na-Amure Aircraft Plant (KNAAPO). These aircraft were delivered in 1996. After long negotiations with Russia, the Shenyang Aircraft Factory finally received the kits for the assembly of the Su-27SK from KNAAPO. The assembly of these kits began in the late 1990s and the first 20 aircraft were ready by 2000. In 1999 the Russians and the Chinese governments signed a deal for the purchase of the Su-30MKK, and upgraded version of the Su-27UBK. This aircraft was widely touted as the PLAAF’s answer to the challenge of the US rapid reaction forces, as the Su-27SK had proved difficult to operate. The Shenyang factory will most likely shift to producing the Su-30MKK variant after producing about 80 Su-27SK units[xlvi].

The Su-27SK/J-11 and the subsequent Su-30MKK upgrade mark China’s entry into the large scale production of a fourth generation aircraft. The current estimates of the J-11 production place total projected production to be on the order of two hundred airplanes. The J-11 is the most likely going to be the `J-7’ of the 21st century.

Other Chinese Fighter projects

The PRC aviation community conducted a few interesting conceptual design studies and some of them served as the starting point other platforms. Though these ideas were too ambitious to actually be produced in China, a discussion of the PRC aviation program would be incomplete without them.

One of these ambitious projects was J-9. This concept was first developed in 1964 by the Shenyang Aircraft Company and 601 Institute but was eventually transferred in the 1970s to the newly established 611 Institute and CAC. The J-9 featured a delta-canard-design with two lateral intakes, and initial projections placed its performance at Mach 2.6. The J-9 design was motivated by the inadequacy of the J-7 to offer satisfactory performance at high altitude and speed. In 1966 the J-9 airplane design proposals were submitted. Four wind tunnel models were tested and after some time the design was frozen. The project ran into trouble in the 1967 period after it was discovered in wind tunnel tests that the J-9 lacked maneuverability and a new design modification calling for a tail less configuration was proposed.  This created a number of technology problems but development continued into 1971. In 1971 work began on a prototype. The attempt at making the prototype ran aground as problems were discovered in the engine performance.  In 1975 it was decided to produce five technology demonstrators but their performance was found to be unsatisfactory and soon cost overruns forced the termination of the project[xlvii].

Another project that is worth discussing is the `original’ J-10 which allegedly was a paper project attempted during the 1970s. It has been speculated that China would develop a swing-wing fighter copied or derived from the MiG-23 and with capabilities similar to the F-111. The project never materialized[xlviii].

After the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, the PLAAF called for the development of a fighter that could offer better low altitude performance and short take-off and landing capability. The Shenyang Aircraft Company proposed the J-11 and the J-12 was proposed by Nanchang Aircraft Company. The J-11 utilized Rolls Royce Spey engines and that eventually sank the project as this technology was not available in China. The J-12 was an even lighter airplane that developed in 1969 and though 6 prototypes were flown, development ended after 1978 after PLAAF interest in the project waned[xlix].

In 1971 the 601 Institute began conceptualizing an airplane called the `J-13’ to replace the J-6 by the next decade. In early 1974 the PLAAF formally proposed development of a new light fighter to replace the J-6. The lack of a suitable engine for the aircraft slowed the project considerably; an attempt to produce a local copy of the Spey Mk202 failed and other local engines did not have adequate power. There are reports to suggest that Egypt transferred a Mig-23 `Flogger’ aircraft to China for studies and this influenced the J-13 design. The new aircraft used cantilever wings and fuselage side mounted air intakes - it resembled the French Mirage-F1. However relative success of the J-8-II project in the 1980s reduced enthusiasm for the project. In the early 1990s the project was finally abandoned in favor of the Chengdu J-10 project[l].

The Nanchang Aircraft Company made an attempt to design a Mig-27 clone called the Q-6. The project appears to have been aborted but no details are available in the public domain about this aircraft[li].

News reports indicate that the PRC aviation community is now attempting to undertake an ambitious development program to acquire stealth technology. This project is allegedly called the J-X project. Very little is actually known about the aircraft, but the PLAAF seems to be interested in matching the performance of the F-22 and the projected performance of the F-35 JSF. The aircraft will also implement advanced maneuvering technology like thrust vectoring and very advanced radar technology including multi-function radar[lii]. The brazen manner in which the J-X project has been paraded in the media by Chinese aviation officials is noteworthy as it is a change from the emphasis on secrecy which dominated PRC aviation project in the past.

Conclusions

The cursory look at the history of PRC fighter development shows the following trends:

  1. A preliminary infrastructure buildup period lasting from 1950 to 1970.
  2. A large gap in aviation development from 1970 to 1980, this roughly corresponds to the Cultural Revolution
  3. A rebirth period from 1980 onwards with an increasing emphasis on avionics and multi-role capability.

  It is also possible to discern the following trends in PRC aviation design philosophy

  1. A desire to reproduce proven designs from 1950 to 1970.
  2. A desire to mass produce proven designs and concepts in the face of dwindling supplier support in the 1970-1980s.
  3. A willingness to incrementally improve the capability of existing platforms to gradually expand their utility in a modern battlefield.
  4. The enthusiasm to learn the design basics and the manufacturing techniques of a modern 4th generation fighter.
  5. A strong inclination to seek out stealth and other 5th generation fighter technology.

The PRC aviation industry is totally state controlled, thus it suffers from other maladies commonly associated with such enterprises. There is a serious amount of technological backwardness, mismanagement of resources and overcapacity developed over years. In spite of government encouragement through technology acquisition opportunities and money, the Chinese aviation industry has not been still able to develop a fighter aircraft completely on their own. The first `totally Chinese’ aircraft concept the J-9 expended millions of dollars before it was cancelled. After independence from imperialist powers in 1949, the Peoples Republic of China has faced industrial issues similar to those faced other developing nations. However the PRC leadership remains hostage to its fear of the outside world, so much so that it does not trust its own people to develop a world-class aircraft platform to meet the external threat on their own. The secrecy that shrouds most of the PRC projects, in my opinion, stems from the lack of self-confidence to develop the required technology and the loss of face to admit the technology has been borrowed from the very superpowers China aspires to compete with.

References 

[xvi] Yefim Gordon and Bill Gunston, “Mig 21 Fishbed”, AeroFax publishers 1996, Chapter 11

[xvii] Yefim Gordon and Bill Gunston, “Mig 21 Fishbed”, AeroFax publishers 1996 pg 78

[xix] Yefim Gordon and Bill Gunston, “Mig 21 Fishbed”, AeroFax publishers 1996 pg 79-80

[xxi] Yefim Gordon and Bill Gunston, “Mig 21 Fishbed”, AeroFax publishers 1996 pg 80

[xxix] Yefim Gordon and Bill Gunston, “Mig 21 Fishbed”, AeroFax publishers 1996 pg 80

[xlv] “The Su-27 `Flanker' Series”, Dr John W R Taylor OBE, Jane's Intelligence Review, 05/01/1995 

[xlvi] “Su-30 MKK- A Chinese Flanker’, Nitin V, George J, and Sunil S, a BR non-paper.

[xlviii] http://www.centurychina.com/  The original J-10 project was referred to in a post on the webforum at this site. However subsequently the thread was erased. The Author wishes to record this reference.

Copyright © Bharat Rakshak 2003