Chengdu J-10 Firebird (Jian-10 Fighter aircraft 10) / F-10
The J-10 has entered the middle of its life from 2004 to the present. As China's first completely independently developed and independently developed fighter aircraft, the J-10 has experienced the special historical stage of the Chinese aviation industry and the Chinese economy from dormancy to takeoff. At a specific historical stage, many ideas, technologies, and economic restrictions have actually affected the development of the J-10. Today, the newer and improved J-10C has entered active service, and the new generation of J-20 has also started mass production.
There was much speculation on the development of China's J-10 fighter. Many suggested the aircraft's design was based on the Lavi- the unsuccessful attempt by Israel to develop an indigenous F-16 fighter. Only in December 2006 did China officially acknowledged the fielding of the J-10, when the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) released videos and photos of the aircraft via China Central Television (CCTV) and Xinhua News Agency. By then, it was apparent that the J-10 has the potential of becoming one of the most significant fighters in the next few decades.
Although the J-10 project was launched in the mid-1980s, its aerodynamic layout technology was actually laid in the late 1970s. In 1966, Swedish scientists discovered the close-coupling phenomenon of the canard ["duck"-type] layout, which was regarded as an advance in vortex aerodynamics. Great discovery, Sweden verified the potential of fighters through JA37, France through Phantom 3 Milan, Phantom 3 modification and other actual models. The canard layout and the conventional layout of the wing strips have been the main development direction of advanced fighters after the 1970s.
Initial development of the J-10 began in October 1988. Originally the aircraft was to be an air superiority fighter. The 1980s saw a number of similar aircraft designs featuring a main delta-wing and canards. The delta-wing, a triangular wing platform, offers two important aerodynamic qualities to a combat aircraft. First, the swept leading edge of a delta-wing stays ahead of the shock wave generated by the nose of the aircraft during supersonic flight, making delta-wing a very efficient aerodynamic wing shape for supersonic flight. And secondly, the leading edge of delta-wing also generates a massive vortex that attaches itself to the upper surface of the wing during high angle-of-attack (AOA) maneuvers resulting in very high stall points. Additionaly, the delta-wing offers increased survivability by having increased structural and airflow stability.
By 1993 the Chinese possessed an all-metal mockup of the J-10. Wind tunnel testing revealed potential problems with low-speed performance and less than expected maximum AOA at subsonic speeds. At the time, there was an ongoing trend in fighter aircraft development that moved the development of single-purpose fighters such as high-speed interceptor or low-altitude dogfighters to polifunctional aircraft that combined subsonic and supersonic air-to-air performance with air-to-ground capabilities. Increasing demands for air-to-ground operations called for an in-depth redesign of the J-10 to accommodate terrain-following radar, more and sturdier hardpoints, and entirely new targeting, flight control and navigation systems.
The first test flight of the J-10 came in 1996 with the help of a Russian made AI-31FN turbofan engine. It would take two years, however, before the J-10 had a successful test flight. By 1999 China had six prototypes: four of them used for flight testing and two for static tests. By late 2000 there were nine J-10 prototypes accumulating over 140 flight hours. The first flight of the pre-production model took place on June 28, 2002. In early 2003 ten J-10s were deployed to Nanjing Military Region for training and operational evaluation.
Development would not stop, however, as China also began to construct two-seat versions of the J-10 for training and air-to-ground roles. This two-seat J-10B fighter-trainer aircraft successfully flew in 2003. Preliminary designs for two new versions of the J-10 featuring single and twin engines and LO geometry were also completed.
Low-rate initial production of the J-10 was authorised in 2002, with the initial run of fifty aircraft to be fitted with Russian AL-31F engines. The J-10 is expected to achieve initial operating capability in the 2005 to 2006 timeframe, initially entering service with the 44th Aviation Division based in Sichuan Province. The PLAAF initially was estimated to have a total requirement of 300 aircraft, but this may be reduced to less than 100 as a result of the introduction of the more capable Su-30MK multirole fighter.
As the Chinese continue to develop and improve the J-10 it becomes clear they are interested in expanding its air-to-ground capability, thus moving from the original concept of a tactical air defense fighter to a multirole fighter-bomber. The change in Chinese reporting of the J-10, from the "Jian-10" ("Fighter-10") to the "Qian Shi-10" ("Attack 10") is proof of this intended move.
Russian involvement in the J-10 program was not limited to the AI-31FN turbojet engine, but also included offers for advanced multifunction radars, navigation and targeting systems, ECM suite, and missile warning and defense systems. For the J-10, the Chinese will most likely adopt the Phazotron RP-35 "Zhemchug," which is an X-band radar with digital fire-control sensors and an electronically scanning phased-array antenna. The radar features a liquid-cooled travelling wave tube transmitter; an exciter; a three channel microwave receiver and programmable signal and data processors. All critical radar controls for "Zemchug" are integrated into the aircraft's throttle grip and stick controller, and radar data is displayed via the head-up and head-down displays allowing for one-man operation.
The production of the J-10 forced China to quickly adapt to current developmental trends; in addition to utilizing other technologies (Russia, Israel) for the benefit of its final product. The results are promising. Not only does the J-10 pose a risk to the Russian fighter export market, but it considerably boosts the Chinese air force's tactical offensive capabilities, especially vis-a-vis Taiwan.
The J-10B Super-10 is an advanced variant of the J-10A, first fielded in late 2003 with China?s Air Force. The new Super-10 will reportedly be powered by the Chinese-designed WS-10A turbofan engine, which will replace the J-10A?s Russian Saturn AL-31FN. The J-10B was first revealed to the public in early 2009. Images appearing on Chinese-language military websites indicate the J-10B had a new nose configuration with an infrared search and tracking system and a ?new Diverterless Supersonic Intake configured engine air intake, also seen on the Chengdu FC-1 Xiaolong (Fierce Dragon), which is co-produced in Pakistan as the JF-17 Thunder. At least one prototype J-10B has featured the indigenous Shenyang-Liming WS-10A turbofan engine, but it remained to be seen whether all production J-10Bs will feature the WS-10A or the Russian Saturn AL-31F turbofan.
On 06 November 2013 Zhang Jigao, deputy chief designer of the J-10 fighter, spoke about the improved model J-10 publicly for the first time in the AVIC flight test center. Zhang Jigao said that the overall performance of the J-10 will be comprehensively improved in areas such as aerodynamic layout, mission system, and the approach to maintenance. Zhang Jigao added that further improvements to the performance of the J10 would focus on the aircraft's aerodynamic layout and mission systems, and the approach to maintenance. "Aircraft development requires constant optimization and improvement," he said, "and our modifications will be comprehensive rather than being confined to a specific area."
US military expert Richard Fisher recently pointed out that the J-10B is a so-called "fourth and a half" generation fighter equipped with modern airborne technology and an advanced radar system, which is about to be delivered to the PLA Air Force. Zhang Jigao disputed the term "fourth and a half" generation. In contrast, he suggested that the current international criteria to classify generations are more applicable. He pointed out that single combat is rare in modern warfare, and that the majority of cases now involve system combat and network operations, so that the combat capabilities of a fighter depend on many factors. "This does not mean that the optimization of an aircraft's radar, avionics, and missile detection ranges are bound to improvements in operational performance."
Since the J-10 was commissioned in 2004, by the end of 2019 a total of about 500 series had been produced. Among them, the number of J-10A is about 300, the J-10B is about 56 and the J-10C is about 150. Among them, the J-10A was discontinued in 2014, and 56 J-10Bs have also been discontinued after production. Currently Chengfei mainly produces J-10C fighters. At the technical level, the J-10B fighter and the western EF-2000 Typhoon, the latest improved Rafale fighter, and the Russian Su-35BM fighter belong to the third-generation and half-fighter fighters. At the same time, the J-10B's new requirements for both attack and defense of the Chinese Air Force have focused on strengthening its ground attack capabilities.
Due to the huge size of the Chinese Air Force, it is not possible to quickly achieve the full replacement of the fourth-generation aircraft. In the future air combat, many combat tasks can still rely on the improved three-generation and half-fighter aircraft. At present, China has discontinued the production of three generations of J-10A and J-11 / J-11B fighters, and has shifted its production focus to three and a half generations of J-10B, J-15, and J-16 fighters, thereby ensuring the Chinese Air Force's technological advantage over surrounding three-generation aircraft before the J-20 equipment After the F-20 officially entered service, it will perform other tasks as a more advanced multipurpose fighter.
Pakistan signed a $1.4 billion deal with China in 2009 to buy 36 J-10B Vigorous Dragon multirole fighters. according to Defense News on 07 October 2013, the most probable buyer of J-10, Pakistan, might put off the purchase plan under the influence of economic factors and technology maturity. By 2013 tough International Monetary Fund conditions on Pakistan and concerns about untested technology delayed Islamabad's plan. At $50-60 million per aircraft, it might become attractive to countries like Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Malaysia and Indonesia.
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