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Jian-8IIM (Jian-8 Fighter aircraft 8)

The J-8 and J-8II aircraft are trouble-prone aircraft with a poor weapon suite and an inefficient engine. At best, the J-8-II can be compared with an early model (1960s) US F-4 Phantom. In fact, after twenty-six years the J-8-II is still in the development stage, has resulted in only about 100 fighters deployed, and meets none of the requirements of the PLAN.

The Jian-8IIM upgrade, co-developed by China and Russia, is the result of a thorough modernization of the F-8M fighter ("M" standing for export-only weaponry in China's weapon designation system) and has actually become a new-generation fighter plane. The first flight of this version was conducted on 31 March 1996. It features upgraded electronics systems, the lack of which has disadvantaged China's fighter planes for a long time.

The twin-engine Jian-8IIM is claimed to be better equipped to survive damage than single-engine F-16A/C and Mirage 2000 series. The high-altitude high-speed performance of the Jian-8IIM is superior to the F-16A/C, F-18, and Mirage 2000; and its radar and electronic equipment are better than those of the F-16A and are similar to those of F-16C, F-18,and Mirage 2000-5. By using the new, powerful WP-13B engines, the Jian-8IIM fighter boasts greatly improved low-altitude maneuverability, which is slightly better than that of the F-18 and Mirage 2000-5, but still inferior to that of the F-16.

The Jian-8IIM fighter would be equipped with Russia's or China's helmet sight and advanced PL-9 and P-73 missiles, with which it will outperform the F-16C in close-range air combat. Phazotron, a Russian firm, had signed contracts with China to provide 150-200 improved Zhuk radars mainly in support of China's new F-8II fighter, but also to equip the new Chengdu J-10 fighter. These radars have six times the data and signal processing power of the basic variant and greater detection range than the current 80KM. They can track while scanning on 24 targets, display up to 8 of them, and simultaneously provide fire-control solutions for 2-4 of them.

The Jian-8IIM does not use large amounts of expensive composite material and titanium alloy, and it is not equipped with complicated maneuverable flaps, as found on the F-7MG and F-16. Consequently, although their combat capabilities are similar, the Jian-8IIM is much cheaper than the F-16C. Though mature and reliable, the Jian-8IIM is rather cumbersome. With a fuel load exceeding that of the F-16, its operating range is shorter than that of the latter. However, if specified by a customer, the Jian-8IIM could incorporate composite material, titanium alloy, and maneuverable flaps to further enhance its maneuverability and expand its external storage capacity and radius of action.

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