BEIJING, (BM) – China’s Aviation Industry Corporation has begun to promote the J-10C ‘4++ Generation’ single engine light fighter for export, the first time the country has offered such an advanced platform to overseas clients, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, quoting Military Watch.
While the bulk of China’s fighter fleet is comprised of heavyweight platforms such as the J-16 and J-20 twin engine fighters, the J-10 design was developed as a lighter and less specialised complement with lower operational costs.
The latest variant of the fighter entered service in April 2018 and integrated many of the country’s latest technologies including a powerful AESA radar, a high composite radar cross section reducing airframe, PL-15 long range air to air missiles and more powerful variants of the WS-10 engine with thrust vectoring capabilities for enhanced manoeuvrability.
The aircraft has been compared to the Russian Su-35 and the upcoming Chinese J-11D heavyweight air twin engine superiority fighters, and though it has a more sophisticated radar than the former it makes use of a similar engine and many analogous technologies but on a smaller scale.
The fighter compares highly favourably to other single engine fighter designs including the American F-16V, Japanese F-2 and Swedish Gripen-E, with a higher endurance and altitude ceiling, longer ranged munitions and comparable avionics, sensors and electronic warfare systems. Reports from the United States Congress have indicated that the J-10 will potentially be able to tackle more costly fighters from far higher weight ranges which are more specialised in air to air combat – naming the U.S. Air Force’s F-15 Eagles in particular as a platform potentially threatened by the J-10.
China is also set to offer the JF-17 Block ‘4+ generation fighter’ for export from 2020, with the Pakistani Air Force as its primary client, and single engine stealth fighters are also currently under development solely for the export market.
The J-10C, however, represents the only modern fighter in frontline service in China’s fleet which has been offered for export, and is considerably heavier and more advanced than the JF-17. The fighter’s combination of low operational costs and state of the art technologies could appeal to a number of clients, with Iran in particular having previously shown a strong interest in acquiring Chinese fighters and planning major acquisitions to modernise its fighter fleet from 2021.
Pakistan is also reportedly looking to acquire a heavier complement to the JF-17, and while reportedly previously showing interest in the J-10A the J-10C’s advantages over its existing fighters remain far greater. J-10C fighters were notably dispatched to Thailand in September 2019 where they took part in joint exercises with the Thai Air Force – which was interpreted by some as an effort to market the elite new Chinese jets to the Southeast Asian state.
Thailand is one of a number of southeast Asian states which are increasingly diversifying away from reliance on Western arms and acquiring Chinese systems. The J-10C is set to compete against other light and medium weight jets in the export market – most notably the Russian MiG-35, the American F-35 and F-16V, and the cheaper JF-17 Block 3.
It remains uncertain whether all fighters offered for export will integrate thrust vectoring systems, or whether these will be left out of some production units to reduce costs for export clients seeking less costly jets at the price of manoeuvrability.
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Source: Military Watch