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F-7MG (J-7E)

The F-7MG is the latest variant to enter service. Current F-7s differ from earlier versions, and from the MiG-21, because they feature a double-delta wing. In 1996 CAC unveiled its improved single-seat F-7MG fighter, which was already in Chinese service. Pakistan ordered a batch of 50 aircraft in early 1999. The Pakistan air force (PAF) was looking for F-7s to replace its two remaining squadrons of elderly Nanchang F-6s, which its planned to phase out in the following three years. A final go-ahead for an F-7MG order hinged on completing flight trials of the fighter's improved radar. Pakistan had test flown the radar twice and had asked Marconi Electronic Systems to refine the system for low-level (below 1,500 ft (460m)) use, which was not part of the original Chinese PLA air force specification.

The aircraft was fitted with leading and trailing-edge flaps and conical-camber outer leading edge for improved medium- and low-level manoeuvrability. The aircraft is powered by an uprated 58.8kN (13,2001b)-thrust Wopen WP13F turbojet. CAC claims that the F-7MG boasts a climb rate of 38,300ft/min (195m/s), a24% improvement over earlier versions. Its maximum payload has also been raised by 200kg, to 1,800kg, and operational radius in the air-superiority role extended by 10%, to 850km (460nm).

Chengdu updated the F-7MG by fitting the BAE Super Skyranger multimode radar and Western avionics. In addition to the Super Skyranger radar, the F-7MG's avionics have been upgraded with the addition of an AlliedSignal electronic flight instrument system and radar altimeter. Chengdu updated the F-7MG with the installation of the multimode pulse-Doppler Super Skyranger radar in place of the earlier GEC-MarconiType 226 ranging-only system.

Alenia proposed an improved +/-20 deg scan version of the Fiar Grifo 7 radar for the F-7MG as an alternative. The new version would address the +/-10 azimuth limitations of the current Grifo 7 development. Pakistan planned to upgrade 100 of its F-7Ps with the new radar by 2000. Grifo 7 flight trials had been underway since 1996, but were delayed as the Italian company struggled to miniaturise the system to fit the F-7. What they were looking for was a radar-off-the shelf, a simple adaption of a fully developed radar, but that didn't happen.

The FC-1 and F-7MF offered a leap in capability over the Chengdu F-7MG because they can accommodate more weapon systems and support four engagements simultaneously compared with two on the F-7MG. F-7MG production continued for several years as there is still a requirement in China and sales could potentially be made to as many as six foreign militaries. The aircraft is already operated by China and Pakistan and the first of 12 aircraft on order for Bangladesh were delivered by early 2005.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:44:42 ZULU