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FANTAN Q-5 / A-5 [DF-106 - Dong Feng / East Wind fighter]

The Q-5 [Qiang-5 Attack-5, the export version being designated A-5] is a single-seat, twin-engine supersonic fighter developed by the Nanchang Aircraft Company of China. It offers enhanced combat performance particularly at low and super-low altitude. The Q-5's payload was similar to the H-5, thus making capable of fulfilling the role of a light bomber. It is the latest renovated type equipped with imported navigation and attack systems. It is used mainly to assist ground troops in attacking concentrated targets on land, key transportation points and ships near the coast. It can also intercept and fight enemy aircraft.

The development of the Q-5 took 11 years. PLAAF equipment holdings improved only slowly, hampered by the need for hard currency, as most Chinese equipment upgrades have required foreign assistance.

The Q-5, the Chinese first generation attack aircraft developed independently by China and produced in great numbers, were used to equip Chinese Air Force and Navy and, hence, strengthened the national defence. On National Day 1984 32 Q-5s flew over Tian An Men Square in a formation of every 4 aircraft and displayed the might of the country and Chinese military Services. The achievement of the Q-5 was awarded State Special Class Prize for Science and Technology Progress and main prize-winners were Lu Xiaopeng, Gao Zhenning, Feng Xu, He Yongjun, Yong Zhengqiu, Yang Guoxiang and Chen Yaozu. An aircraft design team was trained and tempered and the ability in developing domestic aircraft was strengthened through the development of the Q-5 attack aircraft.

A lot of difficulties were encountered and setbacks suffered during the prototype production of the Q-5 and every one of them made the development program of the new aircraft in imminent danger. Due to the insisted effort of the vast number of technical people, workers and cadres, and the fervent concern and strong support from the leaders of the departments concerned every difficulty was overcome and the Q-5 was kept alive. The Q-5, a new aircraft created by China's own effort, had indomitable vitality.

The lessons given by the Q-5 development was also profound. At the beginning, the Q-5 design was affected by the "Great Leap Forward" and the scientific development procedure could not be followed. The design of structure and systems hastily began before wind tunnel test had been completed. Therefore, the design had to be modified again and again. The preliminary type design was certified when the prototype had only been flight-tested for 25 hours and its hidden problems had not been fully exposed. The flight test conducted prior to the mass production also had similar hasty problems. It was until the early 1980s that this kind of problems were completely solved. These facts of the Q-5 development tell the people that the objective laws must be followed otherwise it can only be "more haste and less speed".

In global military aviation, technology's swift development caused the Q-5 to fall behind very quickly. Currently the Q-5 has numerous shortcomings: The most fatal shortcoming is the guidance and the fire control electronic installation is outdated, causing ground attack effects to be less than ideal, and under at night and the bad meteorological condition's operational capacity may be described as "to be nothing to speak of".

The Q-5 is very limited in its ability to find and strike ground targets; because it lacks modern sensors, it would have to first visually identify and locate a target and then dive bomb from a medium altitude on a second pass, leaving it vulnerable to identification and attack from enemy air defenses. Citing an example, a Chinese domestic aviation publication once quoted the pilot original words, reported publicly that when a Q-5M used common bombs for low altitude level bombing of ordinary bridge, it needed 24 sorties to carry on the attack, moreover is only could make fractional damage to the bridge. After installing the Western guidance attack electronic installations, with the same bomb and the forms of defensive action, only four sorties were sufficient to destroy the bridge, i.e. the bridge simply could not pass traffic.

This indicated the domestic model's attack precision was very limited, to a great extent relies on pilot's impression and the experience. Several efforts to upgrade the aircraft with international cooperation successively suffered setbacks, causing the Q-5 "to be congenitally deficient, an acquired disfunction".




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