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, symbolizing PLAAF's ambition to become a modern air superpower. The flight of J-20 and FC-31 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 military 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 PLAAF (S/N 20x0x, 20x5x, 21x5x, 40x4x, 69x7x, 69x9x), replacing the obsolete J-6 and J-7B. Some J-7Es were upgraded to the J-7G standard (as J-7L/J-7EG, S/N 10x4x, 21x5x, 83x8x) with an SY-80 PD radar, HMS and 2 MFDs in the cockpit as well as new dorsal and ventral UHF/VHF antennas. A VLOC antenna was also installed on the vertical tailfin. 
- Last Updated 12/21/16

F-7PG Fishbed

A pair of PAF F-7PGs were photographed with a load of fuel tanks and AIM-9L AAMs. Based on the F-7MG technology demonstrator, it features various upgrades to meet PAF's requirements, including a one-piece windshield, Italian Grifo-7PG 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 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. They have replaced J-6/Mig-19 to counter India's Mig-21bis/Bison fleet. Some F-7PGs were upgraded with VLOC antennas on top of the vertical tailfin as well as a new dorsal UHF/VHF antenna behind the cockpit. 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-MG radar. Bangladesh AF also ordered 12 F-7BGs fitted with Grifo-7PG radar and carrying PL-9 AAMs 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-7GSs in late 2007/early 2008 carrying PL-5E AAMs. They 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. In early 2011 Tanzania acquired a small batch of F-7TNs equipped with KLJ-6E radar. In October 2012 Bangladesh started to receive 16 improved F-7BGIs featuring a glass cockpit with 2 MFDs, HOTAS and carrying PL-5EII/PL-9 AAMs. 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
Sri LankaF-7GS#6-- --
* Three reportedly crashed between 2011 and 2012. One crashed in October 2015.
# One F-7GS shot down an LTTE Zlin-143 with a PL-5E AAM on September 9, 2008.
- Last Updated 11/28/16

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 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, a new dorsal datalink antenna 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 21x3x, 20x6x, 30x5x). The total number of J-7G produced is estimated to be around 80. Recently some have been upgraded with a VLOC antenna installed on the vertical tailfin.
 - Last Updated 12/10/16

J-8F Finback

A PLAAF J-8F was on static display carrying two PL-8B and two PL-12 AAMs. Based on J-8C, a major improvement of J-8F (K/JJ8F?) is the capability of firing PL-12 active radar homing AAM. A new multifunctional 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). 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 launch the IR guided PL-8. J-8F has been in service with PLAAF since 2003 (S/N 11x2x, 72x0x, 78x6x). J-8F is also in service with PLA Naval Aviation (S/N 83x5x). Its export version was called F-8T. However this version has failed to find any foreign customer ever due to its obsolete design. More J-8D/DHs have been upgraded to the J-8F standard as J-8DF (S/N 30x2x, 10x3x, 81x9x). It can carry a BM/KZ900 ELINT pod under the centerline station for recon missions.
- Last Updated 1/7/17

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. 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, 72x0x) before the production ended. Additional J-8Hs (as J-8BH, S/N 81x9x, or DH, S/N 21x0x, 41x0x, 68x9x) were converted from existing J-8Ds (PLAAF) or J-8Bs (PLAN). Some were upgraded with a new dorsal datalink antenna (for the ELINT pod?) and VLOC antennas on the vertical tailfin, and can carry a BM/KZ900 ELINT pod too. It appears that J-8Hs are being further upgraded to the J-8F standard due to the end of PL-11 production.
- Last Updated 7/26/16