BEIJING --- Pictures showed that 14 J-10B fighters painted with the mark of the Air Force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLAAF) were on the parking apron at the airport of the Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Co., Ltd. under the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), meaning that this type of modified fighter will possibly be deployed to the aviation troops of the PLAAF, according to a recent report on the website of the Jane's Defense Weekly.
Zhang Zhaozhong, a military expert at the National Defense University (NDU), said in an interview with reporters from the China Central Television (CCTV) that the J-10B fighter is at least 30 percent better than the J-10A fighter in overall performance.
In addition, it possesses advantages as compared with the third-generation fighters of China’s neighboring countries and the 3.5-generation fighters deployed in the Asia Pacific Region by the U.S., namely the J-10B fighter possesses advantages and does not lag behind.
Zhang introduced that the medium-scale 3.5-generation J-10B fighter with a maximum take-off weight of 19 tons, a bomb load between 6 and 8 tons, a combat radius of about 1,000 kilometers and a flight speed between 1 and 1.5 mach, which is a modified model of the J-10A fighter, is equipped with an active phased-array radar and capable of carrying air-to-air missiles.
The lower nose of the J-10B fighter than that of the J-10A fighter allows pilots have a broader field of vision, and the active phased-array radar with a diameter of about one meter mounted inside the oblate nose part of the fighter, as well as the electronic jammer and searching and tracking device mounted outside the fighter cabin, greatly upgrade the fighter’s electronic information system performance, Zhang said.
In addition to the capability of carrying short-range dogfight ammunition, the J-10B fighter can carry medium-range interception missiles with a firing range of tens of kilometers, and at the same time, it is capable of attacking ground targets. Therefore, its combat effectiveness is upgraded with an overall performance improvement of over 30 percent as compared with that of the J-10A fighter, Zhang introduced.
Different from the previous radars which could only inactively receive signals, the active phased-array radar with the electronic scanning capability, installed on the J-10B fighter, is “just like 2,000 eyes equipped with telescopes in a one-square-meter radar area”, being conducive to seize the air space control, Zhang Zhaozhong analyzed.
Its medium-range interception missiles with a firing range between 70 and 80 kilometers can keep any enemy airplanes far away from its guarding area so as to protect its own safety. Moreover, this type of missile with the tracking and striking capability has a very high hit probability, namely, a target can rarely escape once being locked, Zhang disclosed.
The J-10A fighter is mainly used for territorial air defense, namely intercept and expel the planes which have invaded China’s territory. “While, the J-10B fighter, as a type of multi-purpose fighter, can not only undertake the territorial air defense tasks, but also carry out active attack,” Zhang analyzed.
As for the question if China-made engine is installed on the J-10B fighter, Zhang Zhaozhong said that it is possible for trail use of China-made “Taihang” engine on the J-10B fighter.
“Although the performance of the ‘Taihang’ engine is better than that of AF-31F engine imported from Russia, such factors as reliability and service life of the ‘Taihang’ engine have to be determined through many years’ trials. These are gaps which China should still spend a lot time to narrow,” Zhang said.
But, if the J-10B fighter goes into mass production in the future, it is sure that China’s independently developed engine should be installed on it, Zhang stressed.
Zhang Zhaozhong also expressed that although the current test flights of China’s J-20 stealth fighter are successful, it will take at least a decade to finish its final design and put it into mass production, and during the period before the J-20 is put to use, the J-10B fighter can make up for the shortcoming of the J-10A fighter, maintaining the combat power of the PLAAF effectively.
No doubt, the J-10B fighter possesses advantages over such fighters as the Su-30 and the F-15J imported by China’s neighboring countries including India and Japan, and it is even an advanced fighter and not lags behind as compared with the 3.5-generation fighters deployed in China’s neighboring areas by the U.S., added Zhang Zhaozhong.