Thursday, January 21, 2010

New J-10 regiments

Today, I saw on Scramble's plaaf orbat that a new J-10 regiment is getting formed in the 7th division replacing an old J-7 unit. A while ago, we saw this comment left by a "big shrimp" type of poster on Chinese forums.
Basically, he listed 4 groups of plaaf divisions. the first group of 1,2,3,18,29 are considered to be the elite divisions. It's a little confusing, because I've never considered 29th to be that way. The second group of 9,14,19,33,44 are considered to be the second level of plaaf division and they all already have a 3rd generation fighter jet of flanker or J-10s. The third group of 6, 7, 12, 21, 24 can be described as "crouching tiger, hidden dragon". They are starting to equip 3rd generation fighters. The final group of 15, 30, 37 may also get 3rd generation fighters.

Before we go on, I think it's important to point out several important facts:
  • J-6s are retired from PLAAF
  • The J-7 production finished in 2008 and the final batch was delivered to PLAAF in early 2009
  • J-10s have been replacing J-7 regiments and J-11s have mostly been replacing J-8 regiments and older J-11 regiments
  • J-7s don't have long service life, so a lot of J-7 regiments will be retired in the next 10 years. I think the last of J-7s will pretty much be retired from PLAAF by 2025.
  • As J-7s continue to retire in the next 10 years, their old regiments will either be replaced by J-10s or disbanded.
  • The story may change if another fighter type like JF-17 comes into picture

Let's look at which regiments are currently J-10:
1st division, 2nd regiment replaced J7E 12x2x
24th division, 70th regiment replaced J7E 30x5x
7th division, 18/19th regiment replaced J7 11x8x
3rd division, 8th regiment replaced J7II 10x4x
9th division, 25th regiment replaced J7H 21x0x
2nd division, 5th regiment replaced 10x3x
44th division, 131st regiment replaced 50x5x
From the first group, 1,2,3 have already received J-10s. From the second group, 9 and 44 have received J-10s. From the third group, 7 and 24 have received J-10s.

Now, let's look at the regiments that are currently J-7 as taken from Scramble's plaaf orbat. Remember, these are not followed as closely, so their numbers and regiments numbers may not be accurate. These J-7 regiments may or may not still be there. I also saw some J-7 regiments on that orbat that look to no longer exist, so I didn't list them here.
30th division, 88th regiment J7E 40x1x
21st division, 63rd regiment J7 3xx2x
15th division, 43rd regiment J7C/D 20x6x
17th division, J7II 20x8x
15th division, J7 2xx6x
12th division, 34th regiment J7G 20x3x
31st division, 91th regiment J7II 40x2x
19th division, 56th regiment J7II 31x0x
3rd division, 7th regiment J7E 11x4x
14th division, 40th regiment J7E 21x5x
18th division, 52nd regiment J7II 21x9x
9th division, 24th regiment J7E 20x0x
42nd division, 125th regiment J7 55x3x
27th division, J7 3xx8x
33rd division, J7II 40x4x
44th division, 130th regiment J7 50x5x
6th division, 16th regiment J7 10x7x
37th division, 111th regiment J7I 4xx8x

According to Huitong, here are the regiments still using J-7C/D. 20x6x, 41x1x (so basically 15th and 30th division). We can ignore the second digit in the number, because that could represent the importance of these regiment in the division. Therefore, that digit could easily change upon new conversions.

These are the regiments that received J-7E. 10x2x, 10x4x, 10x5x, 20x0x, 20x5x, 21x5x, 30x2x, 40x1x, 41x8x. (1st, 3rd, 4th, 9th, 14th, 21st, 30th, 37th division) Now, some of these regiments have already been replaced with J-10s. I think J-7Es then get transferred to regiments that are even lower in the pecking order.

These are the regiments that received J-7G. 10x8x, 20x3x, 40x8x, 7th regiment, 12th regiment, 37th regiment. Again, if these regiments get J-10s, their J-7s will likely be transferred to regiments that are lower in the pecking order.

So, who are likely to get the next J-10 regiments?
We've already seen pictures from 18th division air base showing J-10s. Now, that most likely implies J-10s were there to exercise with Su-30s. At the same time, we've also noticed J-10s arriving at the 9th division base early last year, before the first official transfer of the first batch of 4 J-10s to that division. I read that at least one 9th division pilot actually flew and got trained with J-10 throughout 2009. What that could indicate is that a regiment preparing to receiving J-10s will first get some J-10s from another J-10 regiment so that the top pilots can start training. And then, they can take the lessons from those classes to the rest of the pilots in the regiments. At least that is my assessment from reading some of the official articles and posts from big shrimps regarding J-10 conversion process. If that's the case then, I think 18th division is close to getting J-10s, because those J-10s are possibly there for that reason. It would also follow the path of other elite plaaf divisions of having both a flanker and J-10 regiment (with the J-10 regiment replacing the old J-7 regiment).

14th, 19th, 33rd all have J-7 regiments that could be converted to J-10 regiments over the next few years. We can say the same about 6th, 12th and 21st division. 15th, 30th and 37th all have J-7 regiments too.

A while ago, I think Rick Kramer had satellite photos indicating 30th division is about to receive a J-10 regiment, so I think that's high up the list. It's hard to say exactly which regiments with get J-10s next. PLAAF would probably spread out the assignments so that each military region get their share of 3rd generation fighters. Currently, Shenyang MR has 1 J-10 regiment, Beijing MR will have 2 J-10 regiments (3 if we also include FTTC regiment), Jinan MR has none, Nanjing MR has 1 J-10 regiment, Guangzhou MR has 2 J-10 regiments, Chengdu MR has one and Lanzhou MR has none.

My guess is that since Beijing MR will not get a J-10 regiment for a bit since it just got J-10s for 24th and 7th regiment + August 1st flight demonstration team. That would probably eliminate 15th regiment for now. In Shenyang, 30th and 21st division are both possibility, but I think 30th might have better chance due to Rick's photos. I think Jinan MR will get a J-10 regiment soon, so that would suggest either 12th or 19th division is getting J-10. Due to their proximity to Taiwan, Guangzhou and Nanjing will probably get quite a few J-10 regiments. Since Guangzhou is in the process of getting its second with 9th division, I think Nanjing is next. That would bring in the possibility of 14th division. Chengdu MR might get more J-10s to counter threats from Vietnam and India. 33rd division already have flanker, so it's unlikely to get J-10s. That means 6th will be the next division to get it from Chengdu MR. If they follow what they did with 44th division and J-10A, it's possible that the first J-10B regiments will also be placed in Chengdu MR. Which means, the first J-10B regiment will be in 6th division or 44th division. Finally, Lanzhou MR may or may not get one due to its geographic insignificance. If it does get one, I think it's more likely to get the longer ranged flanker because of the area that Lanzhou MR covers.

To sum up, we've seen three new regiments converted to or in the middle of converting to J-10 recently. I think this is partly due to the order for 122 AL-31FN signed early last year and partly due to FWS-10A's improved reliability. I think that J-10s will be used to replace most of the J-7 regiments in PLAAF in the next 10 years (unless PLAAF finally decides to purchase JF-17s). These are the regiments I think we need to focus on in the next few years that will receive J-10s.
18th division, 52nd regiment J7II 21x9x
30th division, 88th regiment J7E 40x1x
12th division, 34th regiment J7G 20x3x
14th division, 40th regiment J7E 21x5x
6th division, 16th regiment J7 10x7x


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Unknown said...

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