Shenyang J-11

Taking due account of the Vietnam War expe­rience of operating fighters from ad hoc ‘ambush airstrips’ to intercept US strike aircraft formations, in 1969 the PLAAF posed a requirement for a light tactical fighter having short take-off and landing (STOL) capability. The Shenyang J-11 was to be a replacement for the obsolescent J-6 and, to a certain extent, the Q-5 attack aircraft.

Working together with the No. 601 Research Institute, the Shenyang Aircraft Factory explored three alternative concepts. The first one envisaged a powerplant of two uprated WP-6 III afterburning turbojets; how­ever, this engine was getting long in the tooth and may not have provided the required speed. The second version was built around a single WP-7 III afterburning turbojet; however, with the specified maximum take-off weight of 7,000 kg (15,430 lb) the thrust/weight ratio would be marginal, severely limiting the fuel load and ordnance load.

The third concept was based on an after­burning turbofan which did not yet exist. The designers proposed developing an afterburn­ing version of the Rolls-Royce Spey 512 pow­ering the Hawker Siddeley HS.121 Trident air­liner. After a lengthy appraisal the third con­cept was selected for further development of a fighter designated Shenyang J-11.

Preliminary development was completed in late 1971, and the resulting aircraft bore a striking resemblance to the French Dassault Mirage F1. It had sharply swept shoulder- mounted wings with a leading-edge dog­tooth; the conventional tail surfaces featured low-set stabilators and a small ventral fin. The single engine breathed through semi-circular lateral intakes with half-cone centrebodies. The long pointed nose was to house a Type 645 fire control radar. The armament consist­ed of two 30-mm cannons and up to four PL-2 or PL-5 AAMs, or air-to-surface weapons.

The Shenyang J-11 was to be 15.76 m (51 ft 0 in) long and 4.7 m (15 ft 5 in) high, with a wing span of 8.695 m (28 ft 5 in) and a normal TOW of 8,700 kg (19,180 lb). The aircraft was to have a take-off run of only 500 m (1,640 ft), a range of 2,300 km (1,430 miles) and a max­imum climb rate of 197 m/sec (38,770 ft/min) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft).

The project did not materialise – for sever­al reasons. Firstly, the intended powerplant proved unobtainable – it was impossible to purchase more Spey 512s or reverse-engineer the engine at that stage. Secondly, the com­peting J-12 project was much more advanced in its development. Hence the Shenyang J-11 pro­gramme was terminated, the designation being reused much later for a Sukhoi Su-27SK derivative – ironically, also built by Shenyanq.

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