Attack Aircraft I

It was rumored that 601/SAC are working on a heavy fighter bomber (J-18?) based on J-16 featuring a twin-seat cockpit similar to that of Russian Su-34 but this has yet to be confirmed.

Q-5L Fantan

This major upgrade of Q-5C (dubbed Q-5L) finally fulfilled PLAAF's requirement to deliver PGMs (mainly LGBs). The aircraft features a laser spot tracker (similar to American AN/AAS-35V Pave Penny) underneath its nose and a strengthened belly pylon for the laser designator pod (K/PZS-01H). Its cockpit may have been modernized as well featuring HUD and MFDs. However, due to the limited payload it can deliver, at most two 500kg LS-500J LGBs (comparable to Russian KAB-500L) and one designator pod are carried. The improved Q-5L entered limited service with PLAAF (S/N 10x6x) and no additional aircraft were upgraded. A small number of the aircraft have been modified with a belly conformal fuel tank to achieve a longer range. Q-5L can also extend its range by carrying two large (1,140L) drop tanks. Some have a new dorsal communication antenna was installed aft the cockpit. It is still unclear which type of aircraft will eventually replace the aging Q-5L. The latest image (November 2014) suggested a new 250kg LGB (GB-3/TG250?) featuring a proportional navigation seeker has been tested onboard a Q-5L.
- Last Updated 11/23/14

JH-7/FBC-1 Flounder/Flying Leopard

This tandem-seat fighter bomber in the same of class of Tornado and Su-24 (max TO weight 28,500kg, weapon load 6,500kg, max speed Mach 1.7, ferry range 3,650km, combat radius 1,650km) entered limited service with PLA naval aviation in 1994, replacing old Il-28 torpedo bombers. Designed by Xian Aircraft Design Institute (603 Institute) and built by Xian Aircraft Company (XAC), the JH-7 prototype first flew in December 1988. However it did not complete the development until late 1996 after successfully test-firing YJ-81 ASM (after the loss of one prototype and two test pilots due to engine failure). Its standard mission is anti-ship, where it carries up to 4 YJ-81/YJ-83K AShMs under the wing plus two wingtip PL-5B AAMs and a twin 23mm cannon (200 rounds) for self-defense. It can also carry rocket pods or up to 20 250kg free-fall bombs for ground attack mission. The naval JH-7 can also carry aerial mines for mine laying missions. The aircraft is equipped with a complete set of avionics which initially suffered a high malfunction rate. Its flight control system consists of Type 232H Eagle Eye multi-role radar, triplex digital-analog autopilot, 8145 air-data computer, WG-5A radio altimeter, 210 Doppler navigational system and HZX-1B "stabilizing" system; EW suite includes RW1045 RWR, 960-2 noise jamming system, and 914-4G passive jamming system. JH-7 was first revealed on TV during the naval exercise in October 1995. However due to its 1970's design as well as two underpowered Rolls-Royce Spey MK202/WS-9 turbofans (20,515lb with afterburning), it was rejected by PLAAF who is in favor of Su-30MKK and has become the first dedicated maritime attack aircraft for PLA Naval Aviation. All pre-production JH-7s (around 18, S/N 81x6x) are believed to be stationed at Dachang Airbase near Shanghai. Nonetheless, engineers at 603 Institute are still making various improvements on JH-7 which include the new JL-10A PD radar, one-piece windshield, two additional underwing hardpoints, new databus and INS/GPS. The result is the upgraded JH-7A (see below), capable of delivering a variety of PGMs and stand-off missiles. 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. Between 2002 and 2004 PLAN received the last batch of about 20 improved JH-7s (02 Batch? S/N 82x6x), where are powered by additional second-hand Sprey MK202 turbofan engines supplied by Rolls-Royce. These JH-7s have upgraded avionics including the new JL-10A (with enhanced AA & AG modes and compatible with YJ-83K AShM) multi-mode PD radar replacing the old Type 232H. In late 2007 JH-7 was first seen carrying two types of large EW pods under the wings without any weapons, they may contain a new radar frequency jamming system. Therefore the aircraft may be used in a role similar to American EF-111 to provide electronic escort for the attack group (though limited in terms of capability). Recent images indicated that all early batch of JH-7s have been upgraded with the JL-10A PD fire-control radar as well as a new datalink antenna behind the cockpit.
- Last Updated 4/20/14

JH-7A Flounder/Flying Leopard

A PLAAF JH-7A was photographed while it was approaching for landing. The first batch of JH-7A entered the service with PLAAF (S/N 30x9x, 11x6x, 20x2x, 31x9x, 72x1x, 78x6x) in late 2004. Unlike the naval JH-7A (S/N 83x9x, 82x5x, 82x7x) which first entered the service earlier in 2004, it wears a medium-blue color scheme and has the serial number painted under the side of cockpit. First revealed as a full-scale mockup, this improved variant of JH-7 was seen carrying a full range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapon load, reflecting its enhanced capability of launching precision strikes using anti-radiation missiles and LGBs. The precision strike capability is believed to be a major requirement JH-7A has to meet in order to attract orders from PLAAF. This capability is thought to be achieved by the JL-10A/AG (K/LKK10?) multi-mode PD radar integrated into a new fire-control system, plus an improved "stabilizing" system (analog FBW) giving the aircraft a true terrain-following capability. The aircraft also features a one-piece windshield and a tandem glass cockpit (front/rear) and HOTAS. It also has new wings and horizontal stabilizers made of composite materials and have the 1950 style wing fences removed. As the result, a few hundred kilograms of weight has been eliminated. The engines are the indigenous WS-9 Qinling turbofans (certified in July 2003) replacing the original R&R Spey MK202s. The aircraft has a total of 11 hardpoints, 6 underwing, 2 wingtip, 2 under the engine intakes and 1 under the fuselage. Currently PLAAF JH-7As are equipped with PL-8 AAM, LS-500J LGB, KD-88 TV guided ASM and YJ-91 ARM. A datalink pod can be carried underneath the engine intake for KD-88 ASM. Similarly a laser designation pod (K/JDC01) can be carried to paint targets for LS-500J LGBs. It can also carry two large EW pods similar to those carried by JH-7. Those pods appear slightly different from each other in terms of antenna shapes (covering different frequencies). 5 prototypes were built (#811-815), with the first JH-7A prototype taking off on July 1, 2002. Since 2009 most JH-7As have been upgraded with a new datalink antenna behind the cockpit. Recent photos indicated that JH-7A is carrying a new KG600 ECM pod simillar to the one carried by H-6G/M for self-defence (see below). JH-7A is expected to be replaced by JH-7B (Navy) and J-16 (Air Force).
- Last Updated 11/24/14

JH-7B Flounder/Flying Leopard

A rare photo of a JH-7B prototype is shown here. This newest member of the JH-7 series has been under development at 603/XAC since mid-2000. JH-7B was initially speculated to feature stealth optimized aerodynamics, including a diamond shaped forward fuselage and DSI or Caret inlets. However it turned out that JH-7B features only limited improvements, mainly in the areas of avionics and the flight control system. Its external appearance mostly remains the same, in order to save time and cut cost. A new fire-control radar and mission computer as well as a new full-authority digital FBW could have been installed. Composite materials may have been used in greater areas to further reduce the weight. Its engine could be the improved WS-9B turbofan with a 15% more thrust and a slightly longer nozzle. A retractable IFR probe was rumored to have been installed near the port side of the cockpit but it has not been confirmed. Its wing structure has also been strengthened in order to carry the next generation long-range supersonic AShMs and tactical ASMs, such as YJ-12. A large datalink antenna may have been installed under the nose in front of the main landing gear door. JH-7B might face competition from J-16 fighter bomber currently being developed at 601/SAC. However its primary customer is thought to be PLAN, similar to the JH-7 case. Therefore the aircraft is expected to replace the old batches of naval JH-7 once entering the service. The first prototype was rumored to be under construction in 2011. It was reported that a JH-7B prototype took off for the first time from the CFTE airfield in fall 2012. Currently two prototypes (#821 & 822) are being tested at CFTE.
-Last Updated 12/13/14

H-6G Badger

H-6G (H/JH6G?) was first "leaked" in a promotional video by AVIC I at the 2002 Zhuhai Airshow. This variant is capable of carrying 4 YJ-83K AShMs under its wings, the same type being carried by JH-7/7A strike aircraft. However H-6G has a considerably longer range (~6,000km) than JH-7/7A but at a lower speed. Other improvements include MAWS sensors on both sides of the nose, RWR antennas on top of the tailcone and the vertical tailfin as well as a new dorsal datalink antenna as well as chaff/flare launchers for better self-protection. The observation windows in the rear fuselage were also removed. At least one prototype was used for testing at CFTE (#089), which was seen carrying a self-protect ECM pods similar to American AN/ALQ-131. Currently H-6G is in service with PLA Naval Aviation (S/N 81x1x, 81x2x, 82x3x) replacing the old H-6D. Recent images (September 2013) suggested that some H-6Gs have been modified to carry the new YJ-12 supersonic long range anti-ship cruise missile (up to 2) under a stretched pylon. H-6G is speculated to be replaced by the smaller and more versatile JH-7B (see above).
- Last Updated 2/11/14


H-6H Badger

A pair of PLAAF H-6H (K/JH6H) stand-off missile carriers each carrying two KD-63 LACMs are shown here. This variant (S/N 40x7x, 18x9x, 20x1x) is thought to have been be derived from H-6D AshM carrier featuring a large chin mounted surface search radar and a pair of large underwing pylons. All WWII style self-defense guns throughout the aircraft were removed except the tailguns were retained on some which were converted from old H-6Fs. The aircraft also adopts a new light gray color scheme. A green fairing is seen underneath the rear fuselage behind the bomb bay doors. This was speculated as the datalink antenna for the KD-63 stand-off missile. KD-63 LACM has a cruise speed of Mach 0.9 and a max range of 200km using INS/GPS mid-course and TV terminal guidance, while carrying a 500kg warhead. This has made it the first generation Chinese stand-off LACM. H-6H first flew in December 1998, first fired KD-63 successfully in November 2002. The TV-guided KD-63 is being replaced by the IIR-guided KD-63H for better all-weather performance. The latest images (May 2014) suggested that some H-6Hs (H-6HG? S/N 18x9x?) have been upgraded with RWR antennas installed on top of the vertical tailfin, as well as chaff/flare dispensers on the side of rear fuselage. The new mission of long-range missile attack would extend the life of this 50 year old design well into the 21st century.
- Last Updated 9/18/14

H-6M Badger

A PLAAF H-6M (K/JH6M?) cruise missile carrier was seen here carrying a KD-20 ALCM under its left wing. First entering service in 2007, this new variant (S/N 40x7x) were converted from the older H-6F, as its twin 23mm tailguns are retained. Similar to the naval H-6G, H-6M was modified with a large chin mounted surface search radar and two pairs of underwing pylons. Other noticeable features are the much improved self-protecting measures including UV band MAWS sensors on the nose and above the rear gunner compartment, RWR antennas on the vertical tailfin tip, and chaff/flare dispensers along the side of rear fuselage. Its cockpit was also upgraded with some analog displays replaced by color MFDs. The KD-20 ALCM is carried underneath the large inner pylon while a KG600 ECM pod is carried underneath the smaller outer pylon. A small pylon underneath the fuselage behind the bomb bay door might be the place to carry additional datalink pod (for carrying KD-63 ALCM?). The same type of ALCM is also carried by H-6K (see below). H-6M is speculated to be a low-cost, stop-gap solution until the more advanced H-6K enters PLAAF service.
- Last Updated 11/24/14


H-6K Badger/God of War

One of the H-6K (BC-1, K/JH6K?) cruise missile carrier prototypes was taking off at CFTE with two KD-20 ALCMs under its wings. The development of this new variant officially started in May 2003. The prototype first flew on January 5, 2007 at XAC. Two prototypes have been produced (861 & 862). Its major improvement is to replace two fuel-thirsty WP-8/AM-3 turbojet engines with Russian D-30KP-2 turbofan engines (TO thrust 12,000kg, similar to the engine used by Il-76MD in service with PLAAF), resulting in a greater range (30% more?) and a higher cruise speed. Around 55 D-30KP-2 engines were imported from Russia between 2009-2011. As the result the engine compartment was completely redesigned. It is believed that D-30KP-2 is being reverse-engineered as WS-18 by the Chengdu Engine Corporation. Other improvements include a redesigned solid nose housing a large ground search radar developed by the 38th Institute, a chin mounted FLIR/TV turret for night/poor weather missions, nose ECM antennas, nose and tail MAWS sensors, RWR antennas on top of the vertical tailfin, a SATCOM antenna on the top of rear fuselage, a datalink antenna underneath the rear fuselage, solid tail cone housing electronics with the tail gunner compartment removed, 6 underwing missile pylons and use of composite materials to reduce weight. Its cockpit has been completely redesigned featuring 6 color MFDs. The aircraft now has 3-member crew located in the forward cabin (two pilots+WSO), each equipped with a new ejection seat (HTY-6F) to improve pilot survivability. The crew can also get into/out of the cabin quickly through a side door. Its internal bomb bay is retained. Therefore the aircraft still maintains its conventional bombing capability for low intensity conflict/anti-terrorism missions. A total of 7 KD-20 long-range cruise missiles may be carried by H-6K (6 underwing+1 internally), which are the air-launched version of CJ-10 cruise missile (range 2,000~2,500km, similar to Russian Kh-55). Besides KD-20, it can also carry the smaller KD-63 LACM. In that case the aircraft would carry a datalink pod under a small pylon underneath the rear fuselage. H-6K is capable of flying strategic missions with these long-range cruise missiles (armed with nuclear warheads). It also has the potential to be converted into ASW aircraft or tanker in the future. The first batch of H-6Ks (around 16) have entered the service with PLAAF 8th Division (S/N 11x9x) since early 2011 facing Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Japan. Another batch of (~20) H-6Ks have been entering the service with PLAAF 10th Division (S/N 20x1x) since mid-2013 facing Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. Currently H-6K is in limited production and is thought to be a stop-gap measure until the new H-X stealth bomber enters the service. 
- Last Updated 1/16/14


Su-30MKK/MK2 Flanker

In late 1999 a $1.85 billion contract was signed by Chinese and Russian military leaders to purchase 38 Su-30MKK fighter bombers for PLAAF, with the first 10 delivered by KNAAPO on December 20, 2000, and the second 10 delivered on August 21, 2001 (S/N 11x4x). The rest of the batch were delivered by the end of 2001. More advanced and powerful than JH-7A, Su-30MKK has become the first fighter bomber operated by PLAAF capable of carrying a wide range of Russian-made precision-guided air-to-surface weapons including TV guided missiles (Kh-29T & Kh-59ME), anti-radiation missiles (Kh-31P), TV guided bombs (KAB-500KR & KAB-1500KR). In addition it can also carry Sorbtsiya ECM pods at wingtips and APK-9 datalink pod for Kh-59ME underneath its engine air intake. It was speculated that one PLAAF Su-30MKK carried a Sapsan-E EO pod underneath the engine intake but it turned out to be a KAB-500KR. Its maximum weapon load is 8 ton. Its range can be extended up to 5,200km by in-flight refueling, even though China currently does not have a suitable tanker (i.e. Il-78) yet. As the result, it is expected to replace some roles of H-6 medium bomber to launch strikes against high value targets deep inside the enemy territory. The aircraft features Su-35 style tailfins with square tips and twin nose wheels. It also features a glass cockpit (front/back), an NIIP N001VE fire-control radar (range 100km, engage 2 aerial targets simultaneously, plus multiple AG modes) capable of firing R-77E active radar homing AAM. Consequently Su-30MKK can fulfill the role as a long-range interceptor. In addition, the older R-27 semi-active radar homing AAM can also been carried. It was rumored that Su-30MKK can be used as a mini-airborne command post to direct up to 16 of the same type via datalink to engage the enemy aircraft. Unlike Su-30MKI acquired by IAF, it lacks canard foreplanes, AL-31FP thrust-vectoring engine (Su-30MKK still uses AL-31F) and N-011M phased-array radar, however its delivery schedule is two and half years faster (in full standard). The acquisition of this F-15E class fighter bomber by PLAAF would inevitably tip the military balance in the North East Asia. In July 2001 China ordered the 2nd batch of 38 Su-30MKKs worth $1.5 billion during Chinese President's visit to Moscow. Some of them were delivered to PLAAF 18th Division Stationed at Changsha Airbase (S/N 20x9x), others went to the PLAAF Flight Test Training Base (S/N 78x3x). In January 2003 China ordered 24 Su-30MK2s (featuring an upgraded N001VEP radar able to fire Kh-31A AShM to attack two targets simultaneously) for the PLAN. All were delivered to the PLA Naval Aviation 4th Division (S/N 81x4x) by the end of August 2004. They have been used mainly as long-range interceptors carrying R-73 & R-77 AAMs over the East China Sea facing Japan and South Korea. Unfortunately one was lost in March 2004 due to pilot error. The aircraft was later replaced. Su-30MKK is expected to be superseded by the indigenous J-16 currently under development (see below). Recent images (September 2012) indicated at least 5 Su-30MKKs (S/N 20x9x) are wearing a new "tropical" camouflage (pink, yellow and green) similar to Vietnamese Su-30MKV. These are believed to serve as "blue force"/aggressors for dissimilar air combat training.
- Last Updated 5/26/14


J-16 Flanker

A rare photo of the J-16 1601 prototype approaching the CFTE airfield before landing is shown here. It was first rumored in August 2010 that 601/SAC are developing a 3.5 generation heavy multi-role fighter bomber for PLAAF based on J-11BS. The aircraft can be viewed as an upgraded and indigenized version of Su-30MKK (see above) based on its mission and capability, which is comparable to American F-15E. First flight was rumored to have taken place in late 2011. Several prototypes were built. Like Su-30MKK, J-16 features a retractable IFR probe on the port side of the nose to increase its range. As the result the IRST/LR systm was offset from the center to the starboard side. The aircraft also has twin nose wheels due to increase of the TO weight. J-16 also has tandem seats with a WSO sitting in the backseat. Its major improvement is an ASEA fire-control radar inside a gray radom with dedicated AG modes. As the result the nose tip pitot tube was removed. A new ECM system may have been installed as well. Like J-11BS, it is also powered by two WS-10 turbofans. Besides PL-8, PL-10 and PL-12 AAMs, it could also carry the same precision guided weapons being carried by JH-7A, such as KD-88 ASM and LS-500J LGB. It is still unclear if J-16 is capable of carrying even bigger weapons, like the KD-20 ALCM. Compared to JH-7A, J-16 is expected to have a more powerful radar (AESA from 607 Institute), a greater weapon load (8t) and a longer range (4,000km). Since spring 2013 at least two J-16 prototypes (1601 & 1602?) have been seen undergoing tests at CFTE, including carrying a new PL-10 AAM. Recent news (October 2013) suggested that the first batch of pre-production J-16s (01 batch?) is preparing to enter the limited service with PLAAF.
- Last Updated 5/12/14