As you have all probably noticed, there was a Russian report that China will deliver 24 J-10s to Iran. Now, I have to say that the original report was full of errors just in terms of its description of J-10. It basically called J-10 a clone of Lavi (which is not close to the truth). Of course, the Israeli and American news services picked up on this and harped on China's betrayal of Israel's help. They also made sure readers noticed that American tax dollars are not only spent on J-10, but will also be forwarded to Iran, their enemy. Aside from the obvious part that the Israelis stopped helping the J-10 project in 1995 (first flight didn't come until 1998), people fail to realize that J-10 would've been completed eventually with or without the Israeli help (although there is no doubt that the Israeli assistance sped up the development process). There are several reasons why China would not sell J-10 at this point:
- China does not export its best technology (similar to USA and Russia). In fact, several years back, the Iranians were interested in J-8F. However, China was only willing to offer F-8IIM, so the deal fell through. Until J-11B is fully in service J-10 is by far China's most powerful aerial threat. If they would not even export J-8F to Iran, why would they export J-10?
- The risk of J-10 falling into American hands is too great. If J-10 is exported to Iran, then the likelihood of it falling into American hands after a confrontation against Iran is extremely high. In that case, US would be able to take it back, examine the aircraft and get all of its performance parameters. Once that happens, the effectiveness of current and future J-10 would be significantly reduced. In fact, it is actually more beneficial to US if J-10 gets exported to Iran (especially considering the likelihood of military action against it).
- If JF-17 is good enough for Iran, why would J-10 need to be exported. In fact, Iran was always expected to be the largest JF-17 customer outside of Pakistan. There have even been talks of an assembly line for JF-17 in Iran.
- China has also apparently helped Iran on Shafaq and its indigenous F-5. It can do a lot of business with Iran without having to sell its most advanced fighter, why would it do it?
- There is also the recent sanction by US on IRG. It's possible that any Chinese companies dealing with IRG will get sanctions. Would companies like SAC and CAC sacrifice their contracting jobs with Boeing just to make a few bucks with Iran?
There have also been some rumours out regarding China's 5th generation fighter. The latest word is that SAC did not win the competition as many had suspected. Rather, it is a combined effort with CAC. In fact, it seems CAC is getting the lion share of the design work. Now, it's likely that the assembly line in Shenyang (112) will be in charge of the main final assembly rather than the one in Chengdu (132). Make a note, there is a difference between the design bureau (601 for SAC, 611 for CAC) and the actual factory producing the aircraft (112 for SAC and 132 for CAC). Due to Shenyang's experience producing heavy fighters like J-11, it might get the final assembly order, but that remains to be seen. If this is the case, then CAC might not put as much resource into the much talked about twin-engined J-10 project. Either way, there are a lot of projects for both SAC and CAC in the coming years.
Another recent rumour is the existence of JH-7B variant, but I'm still waiting for more photos to come out on that.
Finally, it seems like Russians have cut off Shenyang for the components to J-11, because they are worried that China will not make any orders for su-35, if J-11B becomes to successful (too late in my mind). But as it turns out, the domestic suppliers have stepped up and it hasn't been a problem. In fact, a recent avic1 article talked about J-11 changing engines. I'm not sure if it's talking about equipping new J-11Bs with WS-10A or just swapping older flankers with WS-10A. You can find the article here:
It says that it takes one month from the start of changing engine to the end of flight test. Looks like J-11B has is finally fully indigenous.