Is China ending the production of key fighter jets?

WARSAW, (BM) – More than 30 Chengdu J-10 Měnglóng [agile dragon] combat aircraft of the latest C version standing on the parking areas of Chengdu Aerospace Corporation [CAC] plants, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24.

This quantity is more than the usual twelve that usually waited for collection by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army air force, reports scramble.nl portal, whose representatives had the opportunity to visit these factories.

According to the Dutch portal, this could mean that China stopped the production of J-10C last year. According to this theory, the manufacturer would probably complete only machines at an advanced stage of production. Now, all of them are pending a decision as to their fate.

The portal indicates that at the same time, the production of another combat aircraft – J-20 Wēilóng [mighty dragon] is developing at the CAC plant. However, it is a 5th generation machine and heavy and twin-engine, unlike the J-10C, a medium-sized, single-engine fighter.

Same as Lockheed Martin

Shifting the focus from the production of the J-20 to the J-10, as Lockheed Martin did a few years ago, shifting the focus to F-35s at the expense of the production of F-16s, seems to make sense if not for one difference. The F-16 and F-35 are planes belonging to the same class and intended to fulfill similar tasks. The F-35A is simply a more advanced successor to the F-16. In the case of replacing the production of the J-10C, it would mean shifting the emphasis to the production of machines of a different class. Fighters intended for another type of task.

The J-20 does not seem to be a candidate for a mass fighter that China will want or even be able to fill its numerous regiments of combat aircraft. Instead, it is an elite machine to perform tasks in the most crucial sections or lead numerous, smaller and cheaper planes into combat. So like J-10.

Meanwhile, the Chinese air force still has around 700 light J-7 fighters, which are modernized clones of the MiG-21, and replacing them with the J-10C would seem advisable. Therefore, it seems to make no sense to stop their production unless preparing a place for their successor. An ideal candidate would be the FC-31 produced at competing plants in Shenyang. Until now, it was they who made the heaviest Chinese fighters, the Su-27, Su-33, and Su-30 clones.

Meanwhile, Chengdu was responsible for the lighter J-10s, which have been produced – according to various sources – between 250 and 460 units. Now the situation may change. Chengdu could produce the heavy J-20, and Shenyang Aerospace Corporation [SAC] – the lighter and more numerous FC-31, which will likely be designated J-31.

Who will get Chengdu J-10C

So who will get the machines standing in Chengdu J-10C, and will their production be shut down? Considering that these are machines with a potential comparable to the F-16C, it seems pointless. Unless Beijing believes investing in its lower-fifth generation combat aircraft to be a waste of money and prefers to invest all resources in structures capable of countering the F-22 and F-35, but does this mean the end of the entire J-10 production line? There has been a lot of talks lately about exports, especially to Pakistan.

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