Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Status of J-10 project

As China’s first advance indigenous fighter jet project, the J-10 program is one of the most important program of PLA. The most recent variant of J-10B made its first maiden flight in December of 2008, but CAC has been producing J-10A as recent as first half of this year.

Most recently, news came out of Chinese bbs that the first batch of production J-10Bs have started to make test flights. This news was not surprising since we had already seen pictures of J-10B production units inside CAC factory a couple of months ago. At the current rate, this first batch of J-10B should be delivered to the first regiment by the end of the year. Even though a lot of us were hoping that J-10B would be able to go into service by the end of 2011, it has taken 5 years for this to happen. When it goes into service, J-10B should be equipped with a new generation of integrated electronics systems consisting of PLAAF’s first fighter jet AESA radar, IRST, EW suite and new software architecture. J-10B is likely to serve as a testbed for various new technologies for J-20. In terms of engine, it will still be some version of AL-31FN for the first batch. AL-31FN has been improving with each batch, so it’s unknown if these new engines will bring additional thrust needed to carry the likely greater payload. There is also a speculated J-10C variant that is rumoured to make first flight later this year. It will be interesting to see how this variant will be different from J-10B.

As J-10A program draws to a close, the question we get is often how many are actually in service. We know that they have one PLANAF regiment of 24 J-10s. There are also 12 J-10AY and J-10SY serving at the August First Aerobatic Demonstration Team. Within PLAAF, there are 8 regiments (44th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 24th, 9th, 15th and 12th) of 28 aircraft each along with probably 16 to 24 J-10s serving with FTTC. Based on the above, there are around 280 J-10s of various J-10/A/S units in service.


Meng-yuan said...

Chengdu certainly took a long time to deliver J-10B. Do you think it is due to the resources being focused on J-20?

There were photos from 2 years ago showing a PESA radar on a J-10B prototype. Are you sure that it has been upgraded to a AESA?

Feng said...

I think a lot of resources were shifted to J-20. My view is that it was designed for AESA all along. And the recent article about the AESA radars for J-10B, J-16 and J-20 is what clinched it for me.

Anonymous said...

This is not an encouraging sign for PLAF, because this means that (a) Chinese industry is still far behind where it needs to be, which is on par with Rolls-Royce, (b) Chinese military can still be held hostage by Russia, and (c) WS-10 engines are already obsolete before their development is complete.

It also seems Chinese industry is still in the habit of producing obsolete aircraft. I have read that Chinese industry is still producing J-7s, JH-7s, J-8s, H-6s, etc, when the focus should really be on mass-producing J-20s, stealth bombers, Y-20s, and if need be, only the latest J-10Cs & J-15s. I would like to be proven wrong, but I keep reading about how early model J-10s are being mass-produced when the latest are what's needed; it's like mass producing F-16As, and expecting them to do well against F-18E/Fs.