Fighters I

Since the end of cold war we have seen more fighter development activities in China than anywhere else in the world, most noticeably the J-10 and J-11 projects, symolizing PLAAF's ambition to become a modern air superpower. The flight of J-20 and J-21 4th generation stealth fighters demonstrated the Chinese military aviation industry is surpassing western European and is narrowing the gap between itself and US as well as Russian aviation industry.


J-7E/L Fishbed

A PLAAF J-7E (K/JJ7E) was preparing for landing. This new variant of J-7 features double-delta wings and wears a light gray camouflage. The new wings retain the existing leading-edge sweep angle of 57° inboard but have reduced sweep of only 42° outboard. This results in a slightly larger wing span and 8.17% more wing area, giving J-7E a bigger fuel capacity and better maneuverability. It is also fitted with a JT-1 HUD, 930-4 RWR, 8430 air data computer, improved Type 226 ranging radar, JD-3 TACAN, 941-4AC chaff/flare dispenser and GPS (fitted on J-7EB). Main armament includes up to four PL-5B or two PL-8 IR-guided AAMs and a single 30mm cannon on the starboard side. Powered by an upgraded WP-13F turbojet (14,330lb/6,600kg with afterburning), J-7E is believed to be more deadly in dogfight than its predecessor. It was reported that 263 J-7E were produced and are in service with PLA Naval Aviation (as J-7EH, S/N 83x8x) and PLAAF (S/N 10x4x, 20x0x, 20x5x, 21x5x, 30x2x, 40x1x, 40x4x, 69x7x, 69x9x), replacing the obsolete J-6 and J-7B. Some have an MLS antenna installed on the vertical tailfin. It was believed that some J-7Es were upgraded to the J-7G standard (as J-7L/J-7EG, S/N 10x4x, 21x5x, 83x8x) with a JL-7 PD radar and 2 MFDs in the cockpit as well as new dorsal and ventral antennas.
- Last Updated 4/22/14

F-7PG Fishbed

A PAF F-7PG was photographed with a load of fuel tanks and an AIM-9L AAM. Based on the F-7MG technology demonstrator, it features various upgrades to meet PAF's requirements, including a one-piece windshield, Italian Grifo-MG PD radar (search 55km, track 37km, single target track), two color CRT displays (EFIS), HUD, HOTAS control, new air data computer, TACAN, PL-9C IR-guided AAM, WP-13F(B) turbojet (13,200lb w/ afterburning) plus two 30mm cannons (compared to one on J-7E/G). Its maximum climb rate is 38,300ft/min (195m/s), combat radius is 850km (hi-hi-hi air-superiority role) and maximum load is 1,800kg. The new double-delta wing suggests the same design on J-7E has proven successful. However, since its basic design of Mig-21F has been more than 40 years old, this approach did not fundamentally change the overall performance. Pakistan ordered 57 F-7PGs in early 2000. These F-7PGs have replaced J-6/Mig-19 and will counter India's Mig-21bis/Bison fleet. Besides Pakistani AF, Namibian AF ordered 12 F-7NMs in August 2005. All were delivered in 2006. These are equipped with the less powerful Italian Grifo-7 radar. Bangladesh AF also ordered 12 F-7BGs fitted with Grifo-MG radar in 2005. All were delivered 2006. In addition, Nigerian AF ordered 12 F-7NIs in a $251m deal and the first batch was delivered in spring 2009. They are equipped with Grifo-7 radar. Sri Lanka AF also received around 6 F-7GS in late 2007/early 2008. These F-7s are fitted with the less powerful Chinese made SY-80 or KLJ-6E X band PD radar (search 30km, track 26km) instead of the more expensive Grifo radar. Recent images (March 2011) indicated that Tanzania acquired a small batch of F-7TGs equipped with KLJ-6E radar. In October 2012 Bangladesh started to receive 16 improved F-7BGIs featuring a glass cockpit with 3 MFDs, HOTAS and MLS. The J-7/F-7 production line was closed in May 2013 after the 30 years of production.

List of F-7MG Overseas Customers
CountryDesignationNumberTrainer VersionNumber
PakistanF-7PG57FT-7PG9
BangladeshF-7BG/BGI12/16FT-7BG/BGI4/4
NamibiaF-7NM12FT-7NG2
NigeriaF-7NI*12FT-7NI3
Sri LankaF-7GS#6-- --
TanzaniaF-7TN12FT-7TN2
* Three reportedly crashed between 2011 and 2012. 
# One F-7GS shot down an LTTE Zlin-143 with a PL-5E AAM on September 9, 2008.
- Last Updated 11/19/13


J-7G Fishbed

With the success of F-7PG export fighter, its domestic equivalent dubbed J-7G (K/JJ7G?) was quickly developed at CAC based on the similar design upgrades. This new variant features improved electronics including a new SY-80/JL-7 Falcon PD radar (Chinese copy of Israeli EL/M2001) optimized for PL-8B all-aspect IR guided AAM plus a new HUD, 2 MFDs, HMS, datalink and Type III IFF. The engine is a WP-13F turbojet. The prototype of J-7G first flew in June 2002, following the end of J-7E's production in 2002. The introduction of J-7G suggested that the J-10 (even J-11) production has not been able to replace all J-7/8s quickly. J-7G is serving alongside J-10 and J-11, in a "high-low" combination. The first batch of 16 were delivered to PLAAF in October 2004. Another 32 were delivered in 2006 (S/N 20x3x, 20x6x, 30x5x). The total number of J-7G produced is estimated to be around 80.
- Last Updated 9/9/13


J-8D Finback

J-8D (J-8IIA or K/JJ8D) is the first Chinese fighter equipped with in-flight refueling system. Except for a fixed, non-retractable IFR probe installed on the starboard side of the cockpit, This improved variant of J-8 also has upgraded avionics such as HK-13E HUD, 563B INS, JD-3II TACAN and RKL-800A integrated ECM suite (including KJ-8602 RWR), plus an upgraded fire-control radar (Type 208B, search range 35km) capable of firing PL-8 IR guided AAMs. J-8Ds have been in service with PLAAF (S/N 10x3x, 21x0x, 30x2x, 41x0x) and PLA Naval Aviation (S/N 81x9x) since 1996. However it appears that only a handful of pilots are qualified to perform the dangerous rendezvous with H-6U tankers. Furthermore, there has been no evidence that PLAAF ever practiced in-flight refueling at night. With an extended combat radius of 1,200km, these J-8Ds could strengthen PLA's ability of power projection, especially when escorting JH-7 fighter bomber over the disputed South China Sea. Some have been upgraded with an MLS antenna installed on the vertical tailfin. Currently J-8Ds are being upgraded to J-8H (see below). Some J-8Ds were seen carrying a BM/KZ900 SIGINT pod under the belly. It can also carry BM/KG300G ECM pod for self-protection purpose.
- Last Updated 9/9/12


J-8F Finback

A PLAAF J-8F was taking off carrying two PL-5C and two PL-12 AAMs. Based on J-8C, a major improvement of J-8F (K/JJ8F?) is the capability of firing PL-12/SD-10 active radar homing AAM. A new multi-functional X-band PD radar (Type 1492, 75km look-up and 45km look-down for a 3m2 target) is able to track-while-scan 10 targets and engage two targets simultaneously. The aircraft also features an improved cockpit with a HUD and two MFDs, 573A1 INS, an IFR probe, twin wing fences and more powerful WP-13BII turbojet (~7,000kg with afterburning, could be switched to WP-14 Kunlun). The aircraft first flew in 2000 and test-fired 4 rounds of PL-12 AAMs successfully in spring 2004. Besides the newest PL-12, the aircraft can also fire other types of AAMs such as PL-8, PL-11 and PL-5. J-8F has been in service with PLAAF since 2003 (S/N 11x2x, 72x0x, 78x6x). J-8F also entered the service with PLA Naval Aviation (S/N 83x5x). Its export version is called F-8T, but is unlikely to find any foreign customer ever due to the aircraft's obsolete design. Some old J-8Ds have been upgraded to the J-8F standard as J-8DF (S/N 30x2x, 10x3x). It can carry BM/KZ900 SIGINT pod too.
- Last Updated 10/24/13

J-8H Finback

J-8H (K/JJ8H?) is believed to be a stop-gap measure due to the delay of J-8F (see above) entering the service. Based on J-8D, its major improvements include a new PD radar (Type 1491/KLJ-1 with look-down/shoot-down mode, range 80km) compatible with PL-11 semi-active radar homing AAM (based on Italian Aspide). Other features include INS/GPS, HOTAS, integrated ECM suite, twin wing fences on each side of the wing to achieve better handling. The aircraft is powered by two of the more powerful WP-13B turbojets giving it a greater agility (could be replaced by WP-14). The J-8H project started in 1995 and was certified in 1999. A number of J-8Hs have been in service with PLAAF since 2002 (S/N 30x2x, 68x9x, 72x0x) before the production ended. Additional J-8Hs (as J-8BH, S/N 81x9x, or DH, S/N 81x9x, 21x0x, 30x2x, 41x0x) are being converted from old J-8Ds (or J-8Bs). Some were upgarded with a dorsal datalink antenna and an MLS antenna on the vertical tailfin.
- Last Updated 4/8/14