The Chengdu Jian-10 (J-10) is the single-engine multirole fighter aircraft developed by 611 Aircraft Design Institute and built by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) for the PLA Air Force (PLAAF). The single-seat fighter variant J-10 first flew in 1996 and entered operational service
in 2005. The two-seat fighter-trainer variant J-10B first flew in December 2003.
The new Chengdu fighter has a potential of becoming one of the most significant fighters for the next few decades.
During its early years the J-10 programme also benefited from the IAI Lavi fighter technology. Collaboration between China and Israel on fighter technology began in the early 1980's and full-scale co-operation was underway by 1984. After the 1987 cancellation of the Lavi programme, its design was taken over by CAC, and IAI carried on with the development of avionic equipment.
The J-10 has a rectangle belly air intake, with low-mounted delta wings, a pair of front canard wings, a large vertical fin, and two underfuselage fins. The design is aerodynamically unstable, to provide a high level of agility, low drag and enhanced lift. The pilot controls the aircraft through a computerised digital fly-by-wire (FBW) system, which provides artificial stabilisation and gust elevation to give good control characteristics throughout the flight envelope. It is also the first Chinese aircraft to be fitted with a large one-piece bubble canopy to give a better field of view
Despite its apparent resemblance to the IAI Lavi, the J-10 differs from the Lavi in the primary mission carried out by the aircraft. The Lavi was originally designed as a short-range air support and interdiction aircraft, with a secondary mission of air superiority, while the PLAAF is interested in replacing its large fleet of outdated J-6 and J-7 fighters, for which air superiority capability remains a top priority while the air-to-ground attack capability is of secondary importance. In addition, the Lavi project had included many elements that Israel could not develop by itself, and China cannot obtain these key technologies from the US.
The J-10 is regarded to be comparable to the F-16C/D in general performance, though it might have a better manoeuvrability compared to most latest Western fighter aircraft such as F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon. Specific information of radar and electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite is still unclear, but during the past decade China has been actively seeking latest avionics technology from countries like Russia and Israel.
The J-10's cockpit is fitted with three flat-panel liquid crystal multifunction displays (MFDs), including one colour MFD, wide field-of-view head-up display (HUD), and possibly helmet-mounted sight (HMS). It is not know whether the HMS is the basic Ukrainian Arsenel HMS copied by China's Luoyang Avionics, or a new helmet display featured briefly at the 2000 Zhuhai air show.
The pilot manipulates the J-10 by the 'Iron Bird' flight-control system, a quadruple (four channels) digital fly-by-wire (FBW) based on the active control technology tested by the Shenyang J-8IIACT demonstrator aircraft. The pilot will also be aided by advanced autopilot and air data computer.
Several options are available for the J-10 fighter. These include the Russian Phazotron Zhuk-10PD, a version of the system in later Su-27s, with 160 km search range and ability to track up to six targets. Israel has offered its Elta EL/M-2035 radar for competition. In addition, China has also developed its own JL-10A fire-control radar, which might be assisted by Russian technology.
For low-level navigation and precision strike, a forward-looking infrared and laser designation pod is likely to be carried F-16-style on an inlet stores station. A Chinese designed pod similar to the Israeli Rafael Litening was revealed at the 1998 Zhuhai air show.
The single-seat, single-engine J-10 is similar in size to the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D. The initial batch J-10s are going to be powered by 27,500 lb-thrust (120 kN) Russian Lyulka-Saturn AL-31F turbofan, the same power plant also being used by Chinese air force Sukhoi Su-27s and Su-30s. Some report indicated that 100 AL-31F engines with features specially designed for the J-10 have already been delivered to China in early 2001.
China is also developing its own WS-10 turbofan powerplant, and it could be fitted on the later versions of the J-10. An all-aspect vectored-thrust version of the AL-31F was revealed for the first time at Zhuhai Air Show 1998, leading to speculation that this advanced engine may wind up on the J-10, potentially conferring phenomenal manoeuvrability.
The fixed weapon on the J-10 is a 23 mm internal cannon. The aircraft also has 11 stores stations - six under the wing and five under the fuselage. The inner wing and centre fuselage stations are plumped to carry external fuel tanks. Fixed weapon is a 23-mm inner cannon hidden inside fuselage.
In addition to the PL-8 short-range infrared-guided air-to-air missile reportedly derived from Israeli Rafael Python-3 technology, the J-10 could also carry Russian Vympel R-73 (AA-11) short-range and R-77 (AA-12) medium-range missiles equipped by Chinese Flankers. It may also be fitted with indigenously developed PL-11 or PL-12 medium-range AAM for BVR combat.
For ground attack missions, the J-10 will carry laser-guided bombs, YJ-8K anti-ship missile, as well as various unguided bombs and rockets. Some missiles currently under development such as the YJ-9 ramjet-powered anti-radiation missile may also be carried by the J-10.
Crew: 1 (basic variant); 2 (fighter-trainer variant)
Max Speed: Mach 1.2 (sea-level) or Mach 2.0 (high altitude)
Range: Combat radius over 550 km
Service Ceiling: N/A
Max Climb Rate: N/A
G Limit: N/A