Tuesday, September 15, 2009

China Fields Indigenous J-10 Fighter Aircraft



China Fields Indigenous J-10 Fighter Aircraft


China has officially acknowledged the fielding of the indigenous Jian-10 (J-10) fighter jet.

Since the end of December, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has released videos and photos of the aircraft via the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) and Xinhua News Agency.

The announcement was met with surprise by many defense analysts. China had canceled two recent displays of the J-10. The most recent was at the Zhuhai Air Show in November, where Chinese President Hu Jintao, who also chairs the Central Military Commission, reportedly canceled the J-10 unveiling for unknown reasons.

The J-10 has been considered one of the most elusive classified military programs in China’s history. Speculation and rumor have shrouded the fighter since its initial stages in the late 1980s.

However, video provided by CCTV gave surprising details about the aircraft.

“The video is very good — revealing the J-10’s aerial refueling mods for the first time, first-time show of tanking with the HU-6, and a lot of high-G maneuvering,” said Richard Fisher, vice president of the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center.

“Of course, what is lacking in all the hooha are solid dimension and performance statistics,” he added.

According to Andrei Chang, founder and editor of the Hong Kong-based Kanwa Defense Review, approximately 40 J-10A single-seat fighters have been deployed at two air bases: Nanjing Military Region, No. 3 Division, 9th Regiment, Wuhu air base, and Chengdu Military Region, No. 44 Division, 132 Regiment, Mengzi air base.

Some J-10B twin-seater fighters, designations beginning with 10541, are also believed to be based at Wuhu.

Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corp has been manufacturing the J-10 for the last two years. The company reportedly is interested in marketing the aircraft to countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

China is expected to manufacture 250 aircraft for the PLAAF.