China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC) has unveiled an export variant of J-10 dubbed FC-20E fighter jet at Dubai airshow 2019.
The J-10 is one of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) mainstay multi-role fighters, serving as a light-to-mediumweight complement to its large and varied Flanker fleet.
The J-10C is the latest production variant of the J-10, following the J-10B, which introduced multiple key improvements, such as a diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) and electronically scanning radar.
In April 2018, China’s Ministry of Defence announced that the PLAAF’s J-10Cs began taking on operational duties, indicating that the aircraft’s production and induction are both in full swing.
Photographs of the J-10C that circulated on Chinese aviation websites in October showed the aircraft still flying in factory primer, suggesting it is only in the initial stages of series-production.
Finally a clear image of a production J-10C powered by the WS-10B Taihang engine.
(Images via by78/SDF) pic.twitter.com/GXyoW04pRJ
— @Rupprecht_A (@RupprechtDeino) November 18, 2019
It differs considerably from the original J-10A, most notably in its power plant. The initial J-10 batches have the Russian Salyut-made AL-31FN Series 3, a derivative of the engine installed in the Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30MKK purchased by China.
The installation of the AL-31F in the J-10A required the Salyut plant’s design team to rotate the gearbox and accessory pack to the underside of the engine. The aircraft’s air intake also had to be a quadrangular shape like that of the Su-27 inlet.
In contrast, the J-10C is reported to be powered with the Chinese-made Wo Shan (WS)-10A engine and features a diverterless, oblong-shaped air inlet. The CAC design team has also demonstrated the aircraft flying with an axisymmetric thrust vector control (TVC) nozzle and a modified nozzle that should reduce the rear hemisphere radar cross-section. A J-10C pre-production aircraft in this configuration flew at the November 2018 Air Show China in Zhuhai.
The J-10C is also equipped with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a new avionics suite, and electronic warfare (EW) modules.
According to an apparent promotional flyer of the FC-20E (previously termed as the J-10CE), the fighter’s specifications are as follows:
- Length: 16.9 m
- Wingspan: 9.7 m
- Height: 5.7 m
- Max Mach Number: 1.8
- A/A Combat Radius 1,240 km/2,600 km (Air-to-Air Refueling)
- Max. Ferry Range: 2,950 km