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J-10 Vigorous Dragon
F-10 Vanguard
J-10A seen at Zhuhai airshow.
Role Multirole combat aircraft
National origin China
Manufacturer Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation
Designer Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute
First flight 23 March 1998[1]
Introduction 2005[2]
Status In service
Primary user People's Liberation Army Air Force
Produced 2002 – present[3]
Number built 270 As of August 2012[4]
Program cost 500 million RMB allocated in 1982[1] (Project #10)
Unit cost
190 million RMB (27.84 million US$; 2010)[5]
Developed from Chengdu J-9[6]

The Chengdu J-10 (Jian-10; simplified Chinese: 歼-十; traditional Chinese: 殲-十; pinyin: Jiān shí, export designation F-10 Vanguard) is a multirole fighter aircraft designed and produced by the People's Republic of China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) for the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). Known in the West as the "Vigorous Dragon",[7] the J-10 is a multirole combat aircraft capable of all-weather operation.

So far, only the PAF has signed a contract making it the only export contract for the J-10.[8][9]


The program was authorized by Deng Xiaoping who allocated ¥ 0.5 billion to develop an indigenous aircraft. Work on Project #10[1] started several years later in January 1988,[10] as a response to the Mikoyan MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-27 then being introduced by the USSR. Development was delegated to the 611th Institute, also known as the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute and Song Wencong was nominated as the chief designer, he had previously been the chief designer of the J-7III. The aircraft was initially designed as a specialized fighter, but later became a multirole aircraft capable of both air to air combat and ground attack missions.

The J-10 was officially unveiled by the Chinese government in January 2007, when photographs were published by Xinhua News Agency. The aircraft's existence was known long before the announcement, although concrete details remained scarce due to secrecy. A J-10 prototype was speculated to have crashed during flight test.[11] In the official announcement Xinhua News Agency and the PLA Daily denied such rumors, and listed this as one of the test pilots' accomplishments.[12]

The prototype "J-10 01" was rolled out in November 1997 and first flown on 23 March 1998[1][13] in a twenty-minute flight.

AVIC plans to market an upgraded J-10 for export, most likely the J-10B, once development is complete. Several countries have shown an interest in the type.[14]

Fighter jets of similar design

Drawing of the canceled Chengdu J-9

A JAS 39 Gripen performing aerial display at the 2006 Farnborough Airshow

The canceled Israeli IAI Lavi

The J-10 bears some resemblance to the Dassault Rafale, the Saab JAS 39 Gripen, and the Eurofighter Typhoon, in addition to the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8, the Chengdu J-9 and the Israeli IAI Lavi.[15] Lavi is popularly described as having most similar canard-configuration to the J-10.[16] News articles have claimed that some of the Lavi's technology had been sold to China by the Israelis, an allegation denied by both China and Israel.[17][18] The general designer Song Wencong said that J-10 was a development of the indigenous J-9 which preceded the Lavi.[19][20] This was echoed by a PLAAF's major Zhang Weigang in a 2012 interview.[21]

In 2006, the Russian Siberian Aeronautical Research Institute (SibNIA) confirmed its participation in the J-10 program; SibNIA claimed to have only observed and instructed as "scientific guides", while its engineers also believed the J-10 was not only based on the Lavi, but also incorporated significant foreign technology and expertise.[22][not in citation given]

Operational history

August 1st aerobatics team

The first aircraft were delivered to the 13th Test Regiment on 23 February 2003. The aircraft was declared 'operational' in December of the same year, after 18 years in development.[1][15] The first operational regiment was the 131st Regiment of the 44th Division.


In February 2006, the then President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, toured the J-10 and JF-17 production facilities on a trip to China during which the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was offered the J-10,[23][24] and the purchase of 36 FC-20s, a Pakistan-specific J-10B variant, was approved in April 2006.[24] In November 2009, Pakistan signed a deal with China to buy 36 J-10B fighters in a deal worth around $1.4 billion.[25][26] Deliveries to Pakistan were expected to begin from 2014–15 and the aircraft was to be designated as FC-20 in Pakistan.[25]

In July 2011, Daily Jang reported that China will give a squadron of the advanced J-10B fighter aircraft to Pakistan. According to the report,"the offer was made by senior Chinese military leaders to visiting Pakistan Army's Chief of General Staff, Lt Gen Waheed Arshad".[27][28] In March 2012, talks were held between the two countries to discuss the delivery of latest J-10B fighter jets to Pakistan.[29]


J-10 was designed by the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute (CADI), a subordinate research institute of Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAIC).


The airframe is constructed from metal alloys and composite materials for high strength and low weight, the airframe's aerodynamic layout adopts a "tail-less canard delta" wing configuration. A large delta wing is mid-mounted towards the rear of the fuselage, while a pair of canards (or foreplanes) are mounted higher up and towards the front of the fuselage, behind and below the cockpit. This configuration provides very high agility, especially at low speeds, and also reduces stall speed, allowing for a lower airspeed during instrument approaches. A large vertical tail is present on top of the fuselage and small ventral fins underneath the fuselage provide further stability.[citation needed]

A rectangular air intake is located underneath the fuselage, providing the air supply to the engine. Also under the fuselage and wings are 11 hardpoints, used for carrying various types of weaponry and drop-tanks containing extra fuel.[citation needed]

The retractable undercarriage comprises a steerable pair of nose-wheels underneath the air intake and two main gear wheels towards the rear of the fuselage.[citation needed]

The cockpit is covered by a two-piece bubble canopy providing 360 degrees of visual coverage for the pilot. The canopy lifts upwards to permit cockpit entry and exit. The Controls take the form of a conventional centre stick and a throttle stick located to the left of the pilot. These also incorporate "hands on throttle and stick" (HOTAS) controls.[citation needed] A zero-zero ejection seat is provided for the pilot, permitting safe ejection in an emergency even at zero altitude and zero speed.[citation needed]

Due to the J-10's aerodynamically unstable design, a digital quadruplex-redundant fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system (FCS) aids the pilot in flying the aircraft. The FCS typically monitors pilot control inputs, (similar in purpose to a high performance vehicle equipped with electronic stability control) preventing the pilot from accidentally exiting the flight envelope from applying too much control input during high performance flight situations.[citation needed] This is critical in canard wing aircraft, as they are capable of turning in a much tighter radius than conventional aircraft. The massive control surfaces are capable of moving so far that they can completely destroy the aircraft in flight at high airspeeds if not kept in check by the FCS.[citation needed]

At the 7th Zhuhai Airshow held in 2008, the original test pilot of J-10 program, Senior Colonel Lei Qiang (雷强) revealed to the public that due to the good aerodynamic design, J-10 is superior than Sukhoi Su-27 when performing Pugachev's Cobra, the maneuver Su-27 is most famous for. The reason for J-10 superior performance was because for Su-27, Pugachev's Cobra maneuver is depended on the speed, which limits the angle of attack it can pull, the slower the speed, the smaller the angle of attack. Pugachev's Cobra performed by J-10, on the other hand, was controlled by the pilot, who can achieve any angle of attack he/she wants (Note:this is impossible. AOA is determined by aerodynamics not control), thanks to FBW FCS, which also set the maximum limit to prevent airframe damage due to the high g-force or for the pilot to lose consciousness at high speed.[30]


The cockpit had three liquid crystal (LCD) Multi-function displays (MFD) along with a Chinese developed holographic head-up display (HUD), all of which are fully compatible with a domestic Chinese advanced helmet mounted sight (HMS), claimed by Chinese to be superior than the HMS on Sukhoi Su-27 sold to China.[31][32]


According to Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation officials the J-10 uses a multi-mode fire-control radar designed in China. The radar has a mechanically scanned planar array antenna and is capable of tracking 10 targets. Of the 10 targets tracked, 2 can be engaged simultaneously with semi-active radar homing missiles or 4 can be engaged with active radar homing missiles.[33]

The radar is believed to be designed by the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technology (NRIET), designated KLJ-10 and a smaller variant is claimed to be installed on the JF-17 light-weight fighter.[34] Believed to be based on technologies from Russia, Israel or a combination of both, the radar should be comparable to Western fighter radar designs of the 1990s. It may also be replaced by more advanced radars of other origin on export versions of the J-10. The Italian FIAR (now SELEX Galileo) Grifo 2000/16, has been offered to the Pakistan Air Force for installation on the J-10, should the PAF induct the aircraft.[33]

For J-10B, the nose cone is modified to accommodate an active phased array airborne radar (AESA) radar.[35][36] The general designer of AESA for J-10B is Mr. Zhang Kunhui (张昆辉, 1963 -), the head of 607 Research Institute in Neijiang, Sichuan. Mr. Zhang Kunhui became the deputy head of 607th Research Institute in 1997, and four years later in 2001, he became the head of the institute, when the AESA program for J-10B started. The primary contractor of this AESA is the Radar and Electronic Equipment Research Academy of Aviation Industry Corporation of China located in Sichuan, formed in March 2004 by combining the 607th Research Institute and 171st Factory together with Mr. Zhang Kunhui was named as the head of the research academy. According to Chinese governmental media, the AESA for J-10B took 8 years to develop, finally completed in 2008, and Chinese fighter radars hence achieved a quantum leap in that it went from mechanically scanned planar slotted array directly into AESA, skipping the passive phased array PESA radar.[37] Many suspected the radar is a PESA, but during its brief debuts in the 7th China International Defense Electronics Exhibition (CIDEX) in May 2010 and the 6th International Conference on Radar held in Beijing in Sept 2011, Chinese official sources have claimed it is an AESA.[38]


a J-10 powered by an AL-31FN turbofan engine

The J-10A is powered by a single Russian Lyulka-Saturn AL-31FN turbofan engine giving a maximum static power output of 12,500 kgf.[39] The AL-31FN is based on the AL-31F which was designed for a twin engine aircraft such as the Su-27, to fit the smaller J-10 the engine parts have been moved and re-designed to fit the smaller engine bay in the J-10.

The J-10 was intended to be powered by the Chinese WS-10 Taihang turbofan, but development difficulties forced the J-10A to use a Russian engine instead.[40] The J-10B is likely equipped with the improved WS-10A.[41]

Russia has offered to provide China with a version of the AL-31FN that provides 12,500 kgf thrust and a 2,000-hour service life.[42]

Weaponry and external loads

The aircraft's internal armament consists of a 23 mm twin-barrel cannon, located underneath the port side of the intake. Other weaponry and equipment is mounted externally on 11 hardpoints, to which 6,000 kg (13,228 lb)[43] of either missiles and bombs, drop-tanks containing fuel, or other equipment such as avionics pods can be attached.

Air-to-air missiles deployed may include short range air-to-air missiles such as the PL-8 and PL-9, medium-range radar-guided air-to-air missiles such as the PL-11 and PL-12, unguided and precision guided munitions such as laser-guided bombs, anti-ship missiles such as the YJ-9K and anti-radiation missiles such as the PJ-9.[citation needed]


J-10AY of the August 1st aerobatics team

  • J-10A: Single seat multi-role variant. The export designation is F-10A.[44]
  • J-10AY: Unarmed single seater for the August 1st aerobatic team[citation needed]
  • J-10SY: Unarmed twin seater for the August 1st aerobatic team[citation needed]
  • J-10SH: twin seater for the Navy
  • J-10S: Twin-seat fighter-trainer variant of the J-10A. The forward fuselage of the aircraft is stretched to accommodate an additional pilot seat, two pilots sit in tandem with a single large bubble canopy. Also incorporates an enlarged dorsal spine which may accommodate additional avionics equipment or fuel. As well as serving as training aircraft, the J-10S may also be used for the ground attack role where the rear seat pilot would act as the weapon systems operator.[45]
  • J-10AH: Naval version of the J-10A.[46]
  • J-10B: An upgraded variant of the J-10 with new technologies, also known as the "Super-10."[47] The existence of the J-10B is not confirmed by official Chinese sources, but numerous images of a new J-10 variant have surfaced, showing a prototype J-10 modified with increased radar absorbent material, next generation of integrated EW suite, increased composites, new generation avionics, MAW, a diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI), an infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor, modified vertical stabiliser and wings, ventral fins, housings fitted under the wings, upgraded WS-10B engine, next generation of solid-state integrated electronics, and a modified nose with an AESA radar.[48][49] It had its first flight in December 2008.


 People's Republic of China

Accidents and incidents

There have been four known crashes of the J-10 to date. The first crash is speculated to have been a prototype during testing in 1998 with the most likely cause cited as failure of the fly-by-wire flight control system.[11] However, China has denied such occurrence with official announcement.[12]

Specifications (J-10A)

J-10SY of the August 1st aerobatics team

An orthographically projected diagram of the Chengdu J-10

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1[15]
  • Length: 15.49 m (50.82 ft)
  • Wingspan: 9.75 m (31.99 ft)
  • Height: 5.43 m (17.81 ft)
  • Wing area: 33.1 m² (356.3 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 9,750 kg (21,495 lb[52])
  • Loaded weight: 12,400 kg (28,600 lb)
  • Useful load: 6,000 kg[52] (13,200lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 19,277 kg [15][52] (42,500 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Saturn-Lyulka AL-31FN or WS-10A Taihang turbofan
    • Dry thrust: 79.43 kN / 89.17 kN (17,860 lbf / 19,000 lbf)
    • Thrust with afterburner: 125 kN / 130 kN (27,999 lbf / 29,000 lbf)


  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.2 at altitude,[53][54] Mach 1.2 at sea level[7]
  • g-limits: +9/-3 g (+88/-29 m/s², +290/-97 ft/s²[7])
  • Combat radius: 1,600 km (with air to air refueling), 550 km (without air to air refueling)[46][52] ()
  • Ferry range: 1,850 km[52]()
  • Service ceiling: 18,000 m[52] (59,055 ft)
  • Wing loading: 381 kg/m² (78 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 1.024 (with AL-31); 1.085 (with WS-10A)


  • Guns: 1× 23mm twin-barrel cannon
  • Hardpoints: 11 in total (6× under-wing, 5× under-fuselage) with a capacity of 6,000 kg (13,228 lb) external fuel and ordnance[43]
  • Rockets: 90 mm unguided rocket pods
  • Missiles:
  • Bombs: laser-guided bombs (LT-2), glide bombs (LS-6) and unguided bombs
  • Others:
    • Up to 3 external fuel drop-tanks (1× under-fuselage, 2× under-wing) for extended range and loitering time


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Wang Jieqing. "J-10 Fighter Test Flight Process Secret Revealed". Southern Weekend. 
  2. "China's J10C Ground Attack Aircraft". 2006-10-15. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  3. "Chengdu J-10 (Jian-10, Fighter aircraft-10 / F-10)". 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "The AMR Regional Air Force Directory 2012". Asian Military Review. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  5. Hornby, Lucy (2010-04-13). "reuters, China J-10". Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  6. "Chinese J-10 'benefited from the Lavi project' – Jane's Defence Systems News". 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "J-10 (Jian 10) – Vigorous Dragon Multi-Role Tactical Fighter, China". SPG Media Limited. 2008-02-10. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  8. "China Eyes J-10A Sale To Iran". 14 Dec 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  9. "China Takes An Expensive Hit". 21 October 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  10. John Pike (2002-06-28). "Chinese Aircraft – J-10". Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "China tries to hide J-10 fighter crashes". Defense. Professionals. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "首席试飞员揭歼10"试飞史":创"零坠毁"奇迹", 10 January 2013
  13. Zhang Baoxin (2007-01-01). "CAC J-10 External Design Did Not Receive Foreign Assistance". Aerospace World magazine. 
  14. Siva Govindasamy, "China's AVIC steps up sales push for FC-1, J-10 fighters", Flight International, Retrieved: 2 October 2009
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 " J-10 Multirole Fighter Aircraft". Retrieved 2007-04-09. [dead link]
  16. "Strategy Page". 
  17. David Isenberg (2002-12-04). "Israel's role in China's new warplane". 
  18. "Chinese J-10 'benefited from the Lavi project' – Jane's Defence News". 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  19. "J-9 Head Engineer Talks About J-10". Aerospace Files. 2007. 
  20. "Exclusive Interview with J-10 General Designer Song Wencong". 2007. 
  21. "少将驳斥"战机抄袭论":歼-10源自于歼-9". 2012. 
  22. "SibNIA remains center of Russian innovation". 2007. 
  23. "Pakistan will stand by China against US ‘siege’, says Rashid". 23 February 2006. Archived from the original on 29 June 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 Ansari, Usman (3 August 2011). "China Officially Offers Pakistan J-10 Variant". Defense News. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Pakistan signs deal for Chinese J-10 fighters". 13 November 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  26. Bokhari, Farhan (10 November 2009). "Pakistan in Chinese fighter jet deal". Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  27. "China to give squadron of J10-B fighters to Pakistan". 30 July 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  28. "China to give squadron of J10-B fighters to Pakistan". 31 July 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  29. "J-10B fighter planes, 6 marines for Pakistan as Cino-Pak talks underway". The News Tribe. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  30. Pugachev's Cobra performed by J-10
  31. J-10 HMS
  32. Chengdu J-10 HMS
  33. 33.0 33.1 "Jian-10 (J-10, F-10) Multirole Fighter Aircraft". Retrieved 2010-03-21. [dead link]
  34. [1][dead link]
  35. J-10B radar
  36. J-10B AESA
  37. "创新超越促发展--记中航工业雷电院长张昆辉" 14 January 2013
  38. J10B Active phased array radar
  39. "AL-31FN" (in Russian). Salyut. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  40. "Liming WS10A Taihang Engine". 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  41. Richard, Fisher, Jr. (2011-10-15). "China’s Maturing Fighter Force". International Strategy and Assessment Center. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  42. "China signs deal for 150 Russian fighter jet engines: Report." The Economic Times, 22 September 2011.
  43. 43.0 43.1 "New generation of fighter jets on horizon". Global Times. 10 November 2009. p. 2. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  44. "Pakistan approves purchase of Lockheed Martin F-16s and Chengdu J-10 fighters-13 April 2006-Washington DC-Flight International". 2006-04-13. Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  45. SinoDefence (2006-04-14). "J-10B Fighter-Trainer". SinoDefense. 
  46. 46.0 46.1 Hui Tong. "Chinese Military Aviation | China Air Force". Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  47. Ivanov, Henry (9 January 2006). "China working on "Super-10" advanced fighter". Janes Defence World. Archived from the original on 2006-01-11. 
  48. "New J-10 Variant sighted". Janes Defence News. 2009-03-23. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  49. "Jian-10B (J-10B) Multirole Fighter Aircraft". 2009-03-28. Retrieved 2010-03-21. [dead link]
  50. "PAF to start serial production of JF-17 fighter aircraft soon". Associated Press Of Pakistan. Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  51. 23-Nov-2009 07:02 EST (2009-11-23). "Pakistan’s JF-17 Fighter Program". Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  52. 52.0 52.1 52.2 52.3 52.4 52.5 "J-10 (Jian 10) – Vigorous Dragon Multi-Role Tactical Fighter – Air Force Technology". Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  53. "Chinese Chengdu J-10 Emerges". Aviation Week. 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  54. "J-10A / F-10, J-10B, Jian-10, Vigorous Dragon". Retrieved 2011-09-17. 

see also International AirPower Revue, Vol. 22, Focus Aircraft: Chengdu J-10, p. 40-59, ISSN 1473-9917, AIRtime Publishing, 2007.

External links

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