Chengdu J-10A/J-10B

The basic single-seat fighter version currently in service is designated Chengdu J-10A. 50 to 70 exam­ples have been delivered to the PLAAF so far.

The following estimated figures for the J-10A have been released. The aircraft is 14.57 m (47 ft 9 in) long and 4.78 m (15 ft 5 in) high, with a wing span of 8.78 m (28 ft 9 in). The area of the wings and the canards is 33.1 sq m (356.3 sq ft) and 5.45 sq m (58.66 sq ft) respectively. The J-10A has an empty weight of 9,750 kg (21,495 lb), a fuel load of 4,500 kg (9,921 lb) and an identical ordnance load, all of which adds up to a maximum take­off weight of 18,500 kg (40,785 lb). The fight­er can reach a top speed of Mach 1.85 at high altitude and Mach 1.2 at sea level. The service ceiling is 18,000 m (59,050 ft), the combat radius 463-555 km (287-345 miles) and the ferry range 1,850 km (1,150 miles).

Realising the complexity of the new fighter type, CAC developed a two-seat combat trainer variant designated J-10S (Shuanqzuo – two-seater). The trainee and instructor sat in a stepped-tandem arrangement under a com­mon aft-hinged canopy. The aircraft retained full weapons capability and a full avionics fit.

The fourth prototype, ‘1004 Red’, was completed as the first two-seater, making its maiden flight on 26th December 2003. Flight tests were completed in 2005 and the J-10S entered squadron service in 2006, being deployed alongside the single-seater.

An upgraded version of J-10A, designated Chengdu J-10B was reported in early 2006. This fighter differs from the J-10A in having an uprated AL-31 FN-Ml engine with a fully controllable thrust-vectoring nozzle, structural reinforcements and a new passive phased-array radar.

In late 2002 it was revealed that CAC and the No. 611 Research Institute had completed conceptual design work on two advanced vari­ants of the J-10B; one single- and one twin- engined, both having twin vertical tails and embodying stealth characteristics. Both also featured a redesigned and more angular nose.

A shipboard version of the J-10 is also said to be under development. Such an aircraft could equip the carrier wing of the former Russian aircraft carrier Varyag which was sold to China and is being rebuilt for the PLA Navy.

Some US experts deem the J-10 to be on a par with such fourth-generation fighters as the Dassault Rafale, BAe/SAAB JAS 39 Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as far as agility is concerned.

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