Xian JH-7

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Xian JH-7
FBC-1 Flying Leopard
Jh-7a naval yt.png
A Naval Aviation JH-7A on the runway at Yantai Laishan International Airport
Role Fighter-bomber
Manufacturer Xi'an Aircraft Industry Corporation
First flight 14 December 1988
Introduction 1992
Status Operational
Primary users People's Liberation Army Navy
People's Liberation Army Air Force
Number built 240(as of 2014) [1]

The Xian JH-7 (Jianjiji Hongzhaji – fighter-bomber); NATO reporting name Flounder[2]), also known as the FBC-1 (Fighter/Bomber China-1) Flying Leopard, is a 4th generation tandem two-seat, twin-engine fighter-bomber in service with the People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF), and the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).[3] The main contractors are Xian Aircraft Industry Corporation (XAC) and the 603rd Aircraft Design Institute (later named the First Aircraft Institute of AVIC-1.)

The first JH-7s were delivered to the PLANAF in the mid-1990s for evaluation, with the improved JH-7A entering service in 2004.[4]

Development history[edit]

A new fighter bomber[edit]

In the early 1970s, the PLAAF required a new fighter-bomber to replace the Harbin H-5 and Nanchang Q-5. A request was duly submitted to the Ministry of Aviation Industry (later renamed to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China), which organized a domestic development program when efforts to secure a joint venture with foreign partners failed. The program was authorized on 19 April 1983 by then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. The program was also aiming to make use of newly imported British Spey turbofan engines at the time.[5]

Key positions were filled as follows:

  • General designer: Chen Yijian (陈一坚)
  • General engineer: Liu liangZhi
  • General designer of engine: Wu Daguan (吴大观, 1915 – 18 Mar 2009)
  • Test flight program manager: Wang Ang (王昂), deputy minister of the Chinese Aeronautical Ministry
  • Deputy test flight program manager: Ma Chenglin, deputy director of the Military Aircraft Directorate of the Chinese Aeronautical Ministry
  • Chief test pilot: Huang Bingxin, commander of the PLAAF Flight Test Regiment and China Flight Test Establishment (CFTE) vice president
  • Chief of ground operations during test flights: Peng Diyu, deputy commander of the PLAAF Flight Test Regiment
  • Chief backseat test pilot: Xing Yancai, CFTE chief navigator

JH-7[edit]

The PLANAF required a similar aircraft and the program set out to develop a variant for each set of requirements. The PLAAF variant would be a two-man all-weather deep strike bomber, with side-by-side cockpit seating, electronic countermeasures (ECM), and terrain following capabilities similar to the General Dynamics F-111. The PLANAF would receive a two-man all-weather, tandem cockpit, strike and reconnaissance aircraft. The PLAAF variant was dropped in the early 1980s, with the PLANAF variant becoming the JH-7.

Six prototypes were built by December 1988, and the PLANAF received 12 to 18 aircraft in the early 1990s for evaluation. The first aircraft used imported Rolls-Royce Spey Mk.202 engines, later replaced by a license-built copy, the WS-9. They were equipped with the Type 243H multifunction radar, which could detect ships at a maximum of 175 kilometres (109 mi), and MiG-21-sized aerial targets at 75 kilometres (47 mi).

The JH-7 was designed as an anti-shipping fighter-bomber. As with the later JH-7A, its aerial combat capability was insignificant given the large number of specialist aircraft for that role.

JH-7A[edit]

JH-7A at the Beijing Military Museum during the "Our troops towards the sky" exhibition

When the PLA examined the future role of air forces, it identified a need for precision air-to-surface capability. An improved JH-7, the JH-7A, was designed to meet this requirement. The JH-7A's general and deputy general designers were Tang Changhong (唐长红) and Wu Jieqin (吴介琴) respectively.

The JH-7A had a lighter and stronger airframe than the JH-7, allowing the newer aircraft to carry a maximum ordnance load of 9000 kg.[6][7] In PLANAF, this allowed four YJ-82 anti-ship missiles to be carried, compared to the two on the JH-7.[8]

The JH-7A is equipped with domestic Chinese helmet mounted sight (HMS) for evaluation, and this HMS currently being tested is developed by Xi'an Optronics Group (Xi Guang Ji Tuan 西光集团), a member of Northern Electro-Optic Co. Ltd (北方光电股份有限公司), the wholly owned subsidiary of Norinco, and the HMS on JH-7A was developed from the helicopter HMS manufactured by the same company, thus both share many common components.[9] HMS tested on JH-7A is compatible with air-to-air/surface missiles, and it is also compatible with airborne sensors such as radars and electro-optics so that the sensors are slaved to HMS, enabling the fast tracking and aiming of the weaponry.[10] The cockpit of JH-7A still retains some traditional single function dial indicators, but there are two large color liquid crystal display multi-function displays which can be monochrome if pilots choose.[11] Other avionic upgrades of JH-7 include:[12] replacing Type 960-2 noise jammer with BM/KJ-8605, replacing Type 265A radar altimeter with Type 271 radar altimeter, fully digitized fly-by-wire flight control system, and in addition, Type 232H airborne radar is replaced by JL-10A pulse Doppler radar, enabling JH-7A to fire laser-guided bombs and Kh-31P anti-radiation missiles. The existing JH-7s were upgraded with JH-7A electronics. Two additional hardpoints increased the total to 6 from the original 4, and one-piece windscreen replaced the original three-piece windscreen.

The JH-7A was the first Chinese aircraft to use paperless design, and the software used was CATIA V5.[13]

JH-7B[edit]

A new and much improved JH-7B is currently under development. It features a whole new avionics system, added stealth features to reduce frontal RCS; a more powerful WS-9A engine and new advance weapon package including the YJ-12. The new JH-7B also added aerial refuel capabilities which greatly increases its combat radius. [14] However new pictures of the JH-7B shows no changes in airframe as opposed to anticipated incorporated stealth features. The development worked on JH-7B variant was mainly on update of avionics and weapon system. It is expected to enter production in 2015.

Operational history[edit]

On its maiden flight on December 14, 1988, while en route back to airport to land, the engines of JH-7 prototype suddenly begun to vibrate violently. The test pilot Huang Bingxin (黄炳新) decided to make an emergency landing, but as he approached the airport, the vibration was so great that two thirds of the instrumentation had been shaken off from the dashboard, and all of the connectors of the remaining one third instrumentation still attached to the dashboard had also been shaken loose, so none of the instrumentation worked, but the pilot nonetheless managed to eventually land the prototype safely.[15]

On June 8, 1991, a JH-7 prototype suddenly began to leak fuel in great amounts in relatively very short time. Lu Jun (卢军), a Russian trained Chinese test pilot at the control managed to make a safe emergency landing when the fuel reserve had dropped to slightly more than 30 liters. Lu's luck ran out approximately three years later when on April 4, 1994, a JH-7 prototype crashed during test flight, killing the 38-year-old test pilot Lu Jun (卢军).[15]

On August 19, 1992, the entire rudder of JH-7 suddenly fell off at altitude of 5000 meters, while carrying 4 live missiles. Against orders to eject the missiles and parachute, the test pilot decided to attempt to make an emergency landing. Using mainly the differential of two engines, the test pilot Huang Bingxin (黄炳新) made it back to airport and attempted to make an emergency landing, but a tire at the starboard side exploded at the touch down, causing the aircraft to veer off course. Using brakes as control, the test pilot made two attempts before finally releasing the drogue parachute to finally stop safely.[15]

The JH-7A entered service with the PLANAF in early 2004, and with the PLAAF by the end of the year.[16]

In 2007 JH-7s went abroad to participate in "Peace Mission" exercises of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In April 2012, multiple JH-7 aircrafts joined the Russia-China joint naval exercise in eastern China. In 2013, Russia-China joint exercise held in Russian territory featured JH-7s again.[17]

On 19 July 2009, a JH-7A crashed during the Sino-Russia military exercise "Peace Mission 2009". Both pilots failed to eject and were killed.[18]

On 14 October 2011, a JH-7A crashed during an exhibition at an air show in central China, outside the city of Xi'an. The front pilot was killed; the rear pilot ejected and survived without serious injuries.[19]

On 05 July 2014, a Chinese Navy JH-7 crashed during a night training mission over the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang.[20]

On 22 December 2014, a PLAAF JH-7A crashed near the city of Weinan in Shaanxi province, under unknown circumstances. Both pilots were killed in the accident.[21]

Operators[edit]

 People's Republic of China

Variants[edit]

  • JH-7 – Initial production version of the PLANAF anti-shipping fighter-bomber.
  • JH-7A – Later production utilising composite structure to reduce weight, improved flying control system and improved avionics including the JL10A Shan Ying J-band pulse-doppler radar. Weapon loads increased by the addition of two more wing hardpoints and two hardpoints under the intake trunking for mission pods such as targeting pods.
  • JH-7B - New variant, with upgraded avionics, engines with 15% more thrust, in flight refueling, upgraded mission computer, full authority digital fly-by-wire system, and greater use of composites.
  • FBC-1 Flying Leopard – Export version of the JH-7.
  • FBC-1A Flying Leopard II – Export version of the JH-7A.

Specifications (JH-7)[edit]

Data from AVIC I, SinoDefence.com

General characteristics

Performance

Armament

Avionics
JL-10A radar

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.asianmilitaryreview.com/upload/201102172337151.pdf
  2. ^ "British and Russian Technology for the Xian JH-7A FLOUNDER". U.S.-China Economic and Security review commission. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  3. ^ International AirPower Revue, Vol. 25, Focus Aircraft: Xian JH-7 'Flounder', p. 52-75, ISSN 1473-9917, AIRtime Publishing, 2008,
  4. ^ "JH-7/A (FBC-1) Fighter-bomber". Sinodefence.com. 13 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  5. ^ "JH7 FBC1 fighter bomber and Spey turbofan, Chinese PLAAF". AirForceWorld.com. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Fuel needs limit China's combat ability". upiasia.com. 28 December 2007. Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  7. ^ a b "Xian JH-7". Aeroflight.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  8. ^ "JH-7A for PLAAF". AirForceWorld.com. 25 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  9. ^ Copter HMS
  10. ^ JH-7A HMS
  11. ^ JH-7A front cockpit
  12. ^ "JH-7 Avionics". Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  13. ^ Paperless design of JH-7 with CATIA
  14. ^ http://news.gasshow.com/News_1407096.html
  15. ^ a b c "JH-7 Accidents". Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  16. ^ "JH-7 History". Sinodefence.com. 24 October 2008. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  17. ^ "JH-7 aircrafts participate in internal exercises". AirForceWorld. 22 Oct 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  18. ^ 中俄军演中"飞豹"战机坠毁 两飞行员遇难 (in Chinese). NetEase. 21 July 2009. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  19. ^ "Missing pilot confirmed dead after plane plummets at China air show". Xinhua News Agency. 15 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  20. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/east-asia/story/china-navy-plane-training-mission-crashes-over-zhejiang-xinhua-20140606
  21. ^ http://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=172429
  22. ^ a b Adam Baddeley (February 2011). "The AMR Regional Air Force Directory 2011". Asian Military Review. Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  23. ^ "Chinese fighter crashes at air show". BBC World News. 14 October 2011. 
  24. ^ CATIC brochure, Zhuhai 1998
  25. ^ CATIC website, http://www.catic.cn/indexPortal/home/index.do?cmd=goToChannel&cid=738&columnid=1906&cpid=1626&dataid=4240&columnType=102&likeType=view&ckw=FA#
  26. ^ "PL-5 Short-range Air-to-air Missile". Sinodefence.com. 9 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  27. ^ "YJ-8K (C-801K) Air-launched Anti-ship Missile". Sinodefence.com. 9 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  28. ^ "YJ-82K (C-802K) Air-launched Anti-ship Missile". Sinodefence.com. 9 April 2006. Archived from the original on 30 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  29. ^ "JH-7A KD-88 Air-to-ground Missile". AirForceWorld.com. 25 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  30. ^ "KH-31P/YJ-91 Anit-radiation Missile". Sinodefence.com. 1 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 

External links[edit]