Saturday, December 20, 2014

On Saturday, December 20, 2014 by Luke iMan in , ,    No comments

Facing a potential conflict with Vietnam in the South China Sea, China is continuing the modification of Xian Aircraft Industry Corporation's two-seat JH-7 fighter bomber for the PLA Navy, according to the Sina Military Network based in Beijing.

Photos released on the website indicate that a new version of the JH-7 attacker is under development, constructed with composite materials. Internet users believe that the avionics and engine of the aircraft, referred to as the JH-7B, have been upgraded as well, while the Communist Party paper Global Times said the plane is equipped with an LM6 turbofan engine. Once the JH-7B enters service, it may also be fitted with the more advanced WS-10 Taihang engine designed by Shenyang Liming Aircraft Engine Company.

The idea for China to develop a modern fighter bomber came during the country's naval clash with South Vietnam over the disputed Paracel Islands in 1974. During the conflict, the Q-5 attackers and J-6 fighters of the PLA Navy Air Force did not have the combat radius to provide air support to the Chinese warships in the region.

Neither did China deploy its H-5 bombers to attack South Vietnamese vessels, even though they had the range, as it was unwilling to risk them being shot down by the F-5E fighters of the South Vietnamese Air Force. China eventually gained the control of the Paracels from South Vietnam without air support.

With advanced radar and engines purchased from the United States, the JH-7A entered service in 1988 to replace the obsolete Q-5 as China's new fighter bomber. It is deployed with three air force and three navy regiments. Each regiment is estimated to operate between 18 and 20 JH-7As. The JH-7A is also China's first aircraft which can be refueled in midair.

The JH-7A was upgraded because the Su-30MK2 fighter bombers the PLA Navy purchased from Russia cannot launch missiles made in China. It is not only large enough to carry a large enough payload but is also much cheaper than the Russian aircraft. Like most fourth-generation military aircraft, it is likely to be fitted with the active electronically scanned array radar system, according to the Sina Military Network.


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