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The Associated Press June 29, 2005

Chinese air force to purchase new homemade jet trainer?

China's air force is preparing to introduce a new domestically made jet trainer to teach pilots to fly state-of-the-art warplanes, state media reported Wednesday, underscoring the Chinese military's rapid modernization.

The People's Liberation Army Air Force plans to buy the JL-9 "Mountain Eagle" in 2006-2010, the Web site of the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily reported.

The announcement comes amid growing U.S. alarm at China's heavy spending on modernizing its arsenal.

The two-seat, single-engine trainers also can be used as ground-attack craft, the report said. The first five planes are due to be delivered next year to the air force for testing.

"As the new-generation advanced trainer suitable for both military and civil use, 'Mountain Eagle' will be the first choice of the Chinese air force and navy," People's Daily Online said.

China in recent years has poured money into acquiring advanced fighter jets, submarines and other weapons, many of them from Russia.

The government also is eager to develop its capacity to produce its own high-tech weapons.

The makers of the JL-9 hope to sell it to other countries that have bought second- or third-generation fighters.

The plane uses Chinese-designed engines, avionics and electronics, and is powered by a turbojet engine with a maximum thrust of 6,450 kilograms (14,220 pounds), according to the military Web site globalsecurity.org.

China has long marketed its low-cost armaments to developing countries such as Pakistan.


Copyright 2005, The Associated Press