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J-5A / MiG-17PF Night Fighter

The J-5A aircraft was based on the Soviet all-weather interceptor MiG-17PF. It differed from the basic J-5 by the addition of a radar, a bigger and longer forward fuselage section and relocation of systems and components in the fuselage. Fifty per cent of the parts in the J-5A were new.

Initially the mainland air command could only carry out night operation's with Mig-17 airplanes with radar. According to Soviet Union's operational control regulations, when under ground control, the fighter aircraft flies to the predetermined interception air zone, and the airplane's radar is not intended to intercept the target. After closing to a certain distance from the target, the pilot only then turns on the radar to carry on the search.

At that time the Mig-17 interceptor radar was the RG-5. The biggest difference with the installation of the RG-5 radar's on Mig-17 was the nose air inlet upper lip and the air intake middle partition board. The RG-5 radar's search antenna on the air intake upper lip and the acquisition radar cover caused the airplane to seem like the shark mouth, but in the air intake partition board had the circle distance-measuring radar antenna cap. When the ground radar control guided the fighter aircraft to within 10 kilometers of the target, the ground director would inform the pilot to turn on the radar scanner. The RG-5 radar's maximum search range was only 10 kilometers, and the distance-measuring radar's range for interception was only 4 kilometers. In the sunny daytime this kind of radar was less capable than the pilot's naked eye visual range, but at night and under adverse weather conditions it was actually very effective, particularly when there was no moon light.

When a jet aircraft intercepted a high-speed target, the ground director and the pilot coordinated to cause the fighter interceptor to turn on the radar as near as possible to the target, in order to avoid warning the target. When the acquisition radar surveyed the target, and came within 4 kilometers, the pilot switched to the targeting range finder, and opened fire about 700 meters into the direction from the light, pressed down the trigger to open fire to hit the target.

The western nation only then detected this kind of radar signal in 1953 off Norway in the nearby Barents Sea air zone, when the Soviet Union's Mig-17 fighter aircraft locked US's reconnaissance aircraft with this kind of radar, the RG-5 radar had a 2000 hertz repetitive pulse frequencies. In the American reconnaissance aircraft receiving device, the installed loudspeaker transformed into the devil bass-horn "... Woo ... oh ... oh ...". This kind of sound was the NATO reconnaissance aircraft pilot's nightmare. To the NATO flying crews in the 1950s Cold War nighttime sky, it meant that formidable missile and artillery firepower of the fighter aircraft was aimed nearby. In 1957 Taiwan Kuomintang and US's reconnaissance aircraft detected this kind of radar "singing in praise of the Buddha" off the Fujian coast. For some two months they reduced the mainland reconnaissance flights, but resumed the flights soon thereafter.

The American reconnaissance aircraft played a cat and mouse game with in the Soviet Air force fighter aircraft, and discovered the interception radar's problems. It was discovered early on that the RG-5 the radar a problem that below 1000 meters it cannot be used to detect the Japan-based P2V reconnaissance aircraft. In 1954 the implementation of night reconnaissance missions it was very easy to shake off the Soviet Soviet MiG-17 fighters by decreasing flight altitude. The reason is that the RG-5 the radar beam has a 14 degree angle of view. When the Mig-17 turns on the radar below an altitude of 1000 meters, the wave beam will illuminate the ground to form massive terrain feature clutter. The ground clutter submerged the signal. But this was the only kind of air-to-air interceptor the Continental air command could use.

J-5A prototype production was assigned to the Chengdu Aircraft Factory by the MAI in May, 1961. The Shenyang Aircraft Factory sent a professional team consisting of technical people in different disciplines to Chengdu to help with the J-5A prototype production, specifically production preparation, parts manufacturing, assembly and flight test. They also provided a set of master tooling and production tooling for the J-5. The assistance sped up prototype production. A complete set of drawings for production was completed by the Chengdu Aircraft Factory in September 1962, component manufacture started in March, 1963, and final assembly in June, 1964. The full size static test was completed in September of the same year.

The first flight of the J-5A prototype (02) took place on November 11, 1964 at Yanliang Xi'an. It flew for 30 minutes and all systems operated normally. All flight tests were completed by the end of November and the aircraft operational and tactical performance was approved. It was certificated for mass production by the Military Products Certification Commission in December. Prototype production took 3 years and 3 months.

The J-5A was put into mass production in 1965. The delivery of this all weather fighter provided the military services with a new weapon which could counter the enemy aggression at night.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:44:39 ZULU