The Chengdu J-10 is a multirole fighter aircraft designed in collaboration with Israel Aircraft Industries and produced by the People's Republic of China Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) for the People's Liberation Army Air Force. Designed to be equally useful in both the fighter and light bomber roles, the J-10 is optimized for all-weather day/night missions. History The program was conceived in the early 1980s, to counter new fourth generation fighters then being introduced by the USSR (namely, the MiG-29 and Su-27). Initially designed as a specialized counter-air fighter, it was later remade into a multirole aircraft capable of both anti-air combat and ground attack missions. It has been argued that the J-10 is based on the now cancelled Israeli Lavi. Having been designed under much secrecy, many details of the J-10 remain unknown and are subject to much speculation. Professor David L. Shambaugh reported that development for the J-10 was based on a single F-16A/B that was acquired from Pakistan in the early 1990s. The first flight of the J-10 took place sometime in 1996, but the program suffered a major delay due to a fatal accident which occurred in 1997. This incident was thought to be the result of errors in the J-10's fly-by-wire system. (Note, there is evidence, albeit non-conclusive, that only one prototype was flying; the other was a ground static testbed. Hence, no crash occurred.) A redesigned prototype flew in 1998, resuming flight testing of the aircraft. Service entry into the PLAAF occurred in 2004. It was reported by Jane's Defence Weekly on 9 January, 2006, that a more advanced version of the J-10 is planned, "referred to as the Super-10, with a more powerful engine, thrust-vector control, stronger airframe and passive phased-array radar." So far the J-10 has been offered only to Pakistan for export as the FC-20. The President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, was shown the secret J-10 & JF-17 production facility in late February 2006. He also sat in the cockpit of both aircraft. On his way back he told the press that he had visited the J-10 production facility and that the Chinese had offered to sell the aircraft to Pakistan. He later said that Pakistan and its air force will certainly consider the offer. On April 12, 2006 the Pakistani cabinet approved the purchase of at least 36 J-10s under the designation FC-20. In a recent interview, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmad said that additional FC-20 aircraft will be procured. Pakistan is the largest importer of Chinese military hardware. Its air force flies over 180 F-7 aircraft made by China. In addition, Pakistan is a 50% partner in the FC-1/JF-17 Thunder and K-8 Karakorum advanced jet trainer projects.
Chengdu J-10 at static displayThe J-10 is a single-seat, delta winged aircraft powered by a single, Russian-designed AL-31FN turbofan (maximum static power output of 12,500 kgf (123 kN, 27,600 lbf)). The airframe possesses a large vertical tail, as well as canards placed near the cockpit. The air intake is rectangular in shape, and is located beneath the fuselage. Construction likely incorporates much use of composite materials, as well as more conventional metals. Performance is generally speculated to be within the class of a late-model F-16, although maneuverability is thought to be superior (possibly within the range of some early fifth generation Western fighters). A bubble canopy provides 360 degrees of visual coverage for the pilot. It was reported in November 2005 that a first batch of AL-31FN thrust vectoring engines had already been received from Russia for use in J-10s. A second batch was supposed to arrive later that year, and the rest would arrive by mid-2006. On 9 January, 2006, it was claimed that these new engines were actually termed AL-31FN M1, and would be used in a new advanced version of the J-10 called the "Super-10". Regardless of how they are eventually used, thrust vectoring will boost the J-10's maneuverability. China has made progress toward development of it own WS-10A 'Taihang' turbofan engine. There are plans to produce future variants of J-10 and J-11 using WS-10A engine.
A digital, quadruplex fly-by-wire system aids the pilot in flying the aircraft. Information is provided visually to the pilot, in the form of three liquid crystal Multi-Functional Displays within the cockpit. Western-style HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) controls are incorporated in the J-10's design. The radar type equipping the J-10 is not yet known; possible candidates include the Russian RP-35, the Israeli EL/M-2035, the Italian Grifo 2000 and the domestic JL-10A. (note, most likely, the production version is fitted with a 147x series fire control radar from NRIET). A comprehensive ECM (Electronic countermeasures) package is likely to be present, including active jammers. Note: As of 2005, the JL-10A fire control radar has been incorporated into the JH-7A (JH-7, the evaluation batch, uses Type 232H FCR). Some evidence suggests that a derivative of the Type 1421 on later J-8 models has been selected. This could be the KLJ-3 FCR.
- J-10: Single-seat baseline multirole model.
- J-10B: Double-seated version, for training and possibly ground attack.
- Other Projected Variants: A possible naval version specialized for aircraft carrier operations and a "stealth" twin-engined model.
External loads and armament
The wings provide 11 hardpoints for the attachment of up to 4,500 kg (9,900 lb) of weaponry, fuel tanks, and ECM equipment. Built-in armament consists of a 23 mm cannon, located within the fuselage. External weaponry may include: short-range infrared air-to-air missiles (Chinese PL-8, or the Russian R-73), medium-range radar-guided air-to-air missiles (Chinese PL-11 and PL-12, or the Russian R-77), laser-guided and un-guided bombs, anti-ship missiles (Chinese YJ-9K), and anti-radiation missiles (YJ-9).
- Crew: 1 (basic), 2 (trainer variant)
- Length: 16.5 m (54 ft)
- Wingspan: 11.3 m (37 ft 2 in)
- Height: 6.0 m (15 ft 6 in)
- Wing area: 45.5 m² (490 ft²)
- Empty weight: 9,730 kg (21,460 lb)
- Useful load: 4,500 kg (9 920 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 24,650 kg (40,600 lb)
- Powerplant: 1× Lyulka-Saturn AL-31FN turbofan
- Dry thrust: 79.43 kN (17,860 lbf)
- Thrust with afterburner: 125.5 kN (27,600 lbf)
- Maximum speed: Mach 2.0 at altitude
- g-Limits: +9/-3 g (+88/-29 m/s², +290/-97 ft/s²)
- Combat radius: 550km+ (600 nm)
- Maximum range: 2,540 km (1,370 nm)
- Service ceiling: unknown (unknown)
- Minimum thrust/weight:
- With afterburner: 0.68
- Guns: 1× 23 mm internal cannon
- Hardpoints: 11, 3 under each wing and 5 under the fuselage
- Air-to-air: PL-8, PL-11, PL-12, R-73, R-77
- Air-to-surface: YJ-9, YJ-9K, 90mm unguided rocket launcher pods
- Bombs: laser-guided bombs, glide bombs (most likely LS-6) and unguided bombs