JL-9 / FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle - Trainer Aircraft
The Jiaolian-9 (JL-9), also referred to as Gaoji Jiaolian-9 (GJ-9) / FTC-2000 / CY-1 / LFC-16 Shanying / Mountain Eagle / Plateau Eagle is a is a tandem two-seat, single-engine advanced supersonic training aircraft. The aircraft was designed to be used for training third-generation fighter plane pilots. In addition, the training plane can easily be turned into a fighter plane if necessary.
During the 3rd Zhuhai Airshow GAIC revealed its FTC-2000 advanced supersonic trainer design to replace the JJ-6/7 series. It was developed the Aircraft Design Institute, at the by Guizhou Aviation Industry Group (GAIC) in Anshun, Southwest China's Guizhou Province, a subsidiary of China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I). Founded in 1965, the Shuangyang plant is a major training plane manufacturer in China. So far, it had manufactured over 1,100 aircraft of different types for the Chinese armed forces. Guizhou Aviation Industry Group is the manufacturer of the JJ-7 fighter-trainer currently in service with the PLAAF and PLA Naval Aviation Corps.
The development of the advanced trainer Shanying created a record of using the shortest time to develop a new plane in Chinese aviation history, indicating to some that China's capabilities of developing advanced trainer has reached to a new height. But the JL-9 is an upgraded version of the JJ-7 trainer, which was based on the J-7 (the Chinese copy of the Russian MiG-21). The JL-9 resembles many features from the J-7 fighter and JJ-7 fighter-trainer family, including the double-delta wing. But with side air intakes, and a radar dome up front, the JL-9 doesn't look a lot like a MiG-21. Apart from the redesigned solid nose and lateral air inlets, plus a probe on the starboard side of the cockpit for in-flight refuelling training, the basic design of the FTC-2000 is generally based on the JJ-7. This provides an economy and efficient route for the Chinese air forces to upgrade its current training fleet in large number.
The FTC-2000 is a new generation of advanced/lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) which is designed for advanced training and lead-in fighter training for modern fighter and is capable of performing combat mission as well. Benefiting from adopting mature technology, the FTC-2000, which is arguably the most advanced trainer to have been developed in China, is a reliable and affordable trainer to meet the demands of air forces worldwide.
"Mountain Eagle" is a third-generation advanced trainer that can serve aviation academies and training bases and fulfill advanced trainings for aviation academies. It can also serve forces for battle and complete the refitting and tactical training for second-generation fighters. It is suitable for the refitting training and some battle trainings of third-generation fighters.
The plane is powered by a turbo fan engine and is equipped with an advanced airborne electronic system. Shanying's excellent maneuverability, advantageous price, plus its flexibility to cater to customer requirements will make it very competitive internationally. The JL-9/FTC-2000 jet trainer is powered by the 8,160 kg (80 kN) LYAC WS-12 Taishan engine with 8,360 kg (82 kN) thrust. The same engine is also installed in the Chengdu J-7 fighter, and the new, modernised version of the Shenyang J-8 fighter, designated the J-8T, will also receive this new engine, replacing the LMAC WP-14C Kunlun-3.
Revealed, as FTC-2000, in model form at Airshow China, November 2000, and as full-size mockup two years later. Wind tunnel testing completed by late 2000. Three prototypes under construction by September 2003, first of which was then nearing completion. The supersonic jet craft has been in the spotlight of the world's military scene since it had its first test flight. The first flight of the JL-9 took place on 13 December 2003, at which time the aircraft was expected to enter service as early as 2005. The test flight was carried out at the airport of the Shuangyang Aircraft Manufacturing Plant, in the capital of Guizhou Province.
Newly sworn-in Indonesian Air Force chief of staff Vice Marshal Imam Safaat said 17 September 2004 that Indonesia will purchase new trainer/light attack aircraft from Russia and China as part of an effort to revitalize its primary defense system. He said the new jets, consisting the Yak-130 from Russia and the FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle from China, would replace the squadrons of British Hawk Mk-53 jets and American OV-10 Bronco.The Air Force has 20 Hawk Mk-53, and eight turboprop-driven OV-10 Bronco aircraft that are around 30 years old. “We plan to replace them in the next couple of years. We have done feasibility studies for the purchases, and will propose them to the government soon,” Imam said after the handover ceremony at Halim Perdanakusumah Air Force Base in East Jakarta. Imam replaced Marshal Subandrio. It would be the first time Indonesia purchases warplanes from China and the second from Russia.
Proposed as lead-in fighter trainer for CAC FC-1 and J-8D/F-8D, and as replacement for JJ-7/FT-7, the JL-9 was a direct rival to the JL-15 in competition for the People's Liberation Army Air Force's (PLAAF) next-generation advanced trainer aircraft program, and was several million dollars cheaper than its competitor, the twin-engine JL-15 trainer. On June 28, 2005, Mountain Eagle" advanced fighter-pilot training aircraft, just returned from the 46th Paris Air Show, was selected by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in the purchasing list of equipment during the nation's Eleventh Five-Year Plan Period (2006-2010). As the new-generation advanced trainer suitable for both military and civil use, "Mountain Eagle" will be the first choice of Chinese air force and navy. The Guizhou company was making preparations to finalize the design of the aircraft and to manufacture 10 aircrafts. It was expected that the components of five planes can be completed at the year-end to ensure five "Mountain Eagle" advanced trainers to be delivered to Chinese air force in 2006 for trial use.
The JL-9 entered production in 2010, five years later than expected in 2003.
China is in urgent need of training more aircraft carrier jet pilots, as its second carrier was just commissioned in 2019. With China's second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, joining Chinese naval service in December 2019, China needs to train more pilots more efficiently, and a trainer aircraft that can operate on a carrier rather than a simulated airfield can contribute a great deal to this aim.
The navalized JL-9G features extensive modifications to adapt to the carrier operation environment. These include strengthened landing gears and enlarged wings. Leading edge slaps and leading edge root extensions were installed to reduce the take-off and landing speed at higher AOA. Consequently the twin ventral stabilizing fins were removed. It also features a taller tailfin offering more stability during the high AOA take-off and landing. New DSIs were installed as well which reduce the weight.
JL-9G made its maiden flight in 2009 at GAAC. It was first reported in November 2013 that JL-9G was entering the service with PLAN without the tail arresting hook.
The first JL-9G had a tail arresting hook installed, but this turned out to cause excessive stress to the fuselage and was unsuitable for arrested landing. The JL-9G could only simulate taking-off from the ski-jump and landing without arresting. It was expected to support the carrier based J-15 fighter as a stop-gap until the dedicated J-15S trainer entered service. However it was reported as early as November 2016 that GAAC was working on a carrier-based version featuring a redesigned rear fuselage with a WS-13E turbofan engine and an arresting hook installed.
An attempt was made to develop a carrier trainer version of the JL-9 for this purpose, but this was initially unsuccessful; reports suggest the JL-9’s fuselage was unable to cope with the stress involved in arrested landings onboard carriers. By 2020 the naval version of the JL-9 Mountain Eagle trainer jet was being modified to enable it to train aircraft carrier jet pilots on an actual aircraft carrier. Multiple promotional materials released by JL-9's developer, Guizhou Aviation Industry Corporation under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), involved the JL-9 and an aircraft carrier operating together in edited pictures, leading to speculation that the JL-9 could eventually be modified into a carrier-based jet trainer.
The Guizhou company released a statement saying it is determined to "win a new victory in developing and producing the naval version of the Mountain Eagle." The statement came with a picture of an aircraft carrier sailing in the sea, with a picture of the JL-9 Mountain Eagle edited onto it, flying above the carrier. Having been already delivered to the Chinese Navy, the naval version of the JL-9 was training aircraft carrier jet pilots on land-based airfields, but China still did not have an aircraft carrier-based trainer aircraft that can take off and land on an actual carrier, Weihutang reported.
Having the JL-9 fly on a carrier might require major modifications in aspects including the airframe structure and engine. A powerful competitor to the single-engined JL-9 Mountain Eagle is the twin-engined JL-10 Falcon, which has a more advanced avionics system and better aerodynamic performance, the report said. But the JL-10 advanced trainer jet, developed by AVIC Hongdu Aviation Industry Group, is more expensive.
With its first export contract for delivery of the FTC-2000G multirole combat aircraft to an undisclosed Southeast Asian country [probably Myanmar], Guizhou Aviation Industry Corp can expect a surge in interested customers, aviation experts predicted on 19 April 2020. The state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) said 18 April 2020 the deal was signed in late January, about 15 months after the domestically developed plane's first test flight. The commercial process has been completed and the first batch will be delivered in early 2021, with full delivery expected to finish within two years. An earlier trainer only version, the FTC-2000 has been exported to Sudan in 2016.
The reports did not reveal further key details about the deal, such as the cost or the number of aircraft. "It took less than two years for the FTC-2000G from its test to signing its first export contract with a certain Southeast Asian country, which is an unprecedented speed in the history of AVIC's made-for-export warplane development," one report quoted Wang Wenfei, chairman of Guizhou Aviation Industry Corp, as saying.
Senior military officers from 16 Asian and African countries have visited the Guizhou company to evaluate the FTC-2000G since its maiden flight on September 28, 2018 and its public debut at Airshow China 2018 in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province on November 6, reports said.
As an independently developed multirole aircraft, the FTC-2000G can serve as an attack aircraft with a large combat radius, strong penetration capability and conduct air-to-ground combat missions like close-in support, air interdiction and in-depth strike. When deployed as a fighter jet, the FTC-2000G has good mobility, situational awareness and high survivability in dogfights, aerial escort and patrol missions. The aircraft can also function as a transonic trainer with high safety and reliability and conduct medium- to advanced-levels of tactical combat training missions, the aircraft's chief designer Hu Jianxing said in the reports.