China is retiring its J-7 fighter jets by the end of this year
BEIJING, CHINA — It became known that by the end of 2023, the People’s Liberation Army of China [PLA] will decommission all Chengdu J-7 fighters. This was reported by the Chinese state news agency Global Times.
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It is worth noting that the Chengdu J-7 fighters are a licensed copy of the Soviet MiG-21F-13 fighter with Chinese WP-7 engines [a copy of the Soviet R-11F-300].
In 1961, the Chinese government received a license from the USSR to manufacture this aircraft. On January 17, 1966, the J-7 made its first flight, in 1967 it was adopted by the PLA.
The aircraft was continuously upgraded with advanced technologies and was in production until 2013. In recent years, the J-7 fighter line has been produced exclusively for export.
According to the Global Times report, the decommissioning of the Chengdu J-7s is due to their replacement with more modern and faster single-engine J-10C fighters and twin-engine heavy fighters of the J-11 and J-16 line.
J-7 fighters, in addition to China, are currently in service with 11 other countries, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka.
According to some reports, in 2016 the PLA Air Force was armed with about 500 combat-capable aircraft of the J-7 line in various modifications, including training ones, which were gradually withdrawn from service.
It is noted that after the decommissioning of the J-7 aircraft, its derivative and deeply modified JL-9 [FTC-2000G] trainer aircraft, and FC-1 [JF-17] fighters will continue to be produced.
The publication Military Watch highlights that China’s air force today receives more new fighter jets annually than any other country. At the same time, 1 out of 5 aircraft is a 5th generation fighter.
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