JH-7 Fighter

The second production version of JH-7, designated JH-7 fighter A (or JH-7 Block 02) differed from the ini­tial model (Jh-7) in having composite structures saving weight, an improved FBW control system and improved avionics. The latter included a new JL-10A Shan Ying J-band pulse-Doppler radar. The radar developed by the Laiyang Electronics Technology Research Institute (LETRI) had a detection range of 80 km (50 miles) and a tracking range of 40 km (25 miles) in look-up mode, or 54 km (34 miles) and 32 km (20 miles) respectively in look-down mode; the field of view in azimuth was ±60° and the radar could track four targets at a time.

The number of wing pylons was increased from six to eight and two more hardpoints were added under the air intake trunks; the latter hardpoints were reserved for mission equipment pods. The JH-7 fighter A could carry vari­ous free-fall and laser-quided bombs and YJ-81K or YJ-82K ASMs, as well as PL-5 or PL-7 AAMs. Russian Zvezda Kh-31 P anti-radar missiles (known locally as YJ-91) could be car­ried for suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) mission. The Russian laser-guided bombs were used in conjunction with a laser designator pod. Potential weapons included YJ-83 (radar-guided) and YJ-701 (TV-guided) ASMs. A new KG-8605 active jammer and KZ-8608 ELINT set was fitted. The maximum take-off weight was increased from 27,500 to 28,475 kg (from 60,630 to 62,776 lb) and the ordnance load from 5,000 to 6,500 kg (from 11,020 to 14,330 lb).

The first ten aircraft were delivered to XADRI for upgrading to JH-7 fighter A standard in September 2001. The new variant entered PLAAF service in 2004. Apart from the greater number of pylons, it could be identified by the one-piece windshield, the twin (but short) ven­tral fins and the lack of winq fences. FBC-1M Flying Leopard II fighter-bomber is a proposed second export version fea­turing the same improvements as the JH-7A. No orders have been announced yet.

In December 2008 Iran considered the pos­sibility of purchasing the FBC-1. North Korea and Pakistan were also named as potential customers. However, no export deals have been signed so far.

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