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Xian JH-7
FBC-1 Flying Leopard
Xian JH-7A of the PLANAF seen at a civilian 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 114 (As of February 2011)[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 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). 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.[3]

Development history

A new fighter bomber

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 for make use of newly imported British Spey turbofan engines at the time.[4]

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


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 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.[5][6] In PLANAF, this allowed four YJ-82 anti-ship missiles to be carried, compared to the two on the JH-7.[7] Avionics is one of the major area 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.[8] 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.[9] 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 to.[10] Other avionic upgrades of JH-7 include:[11] 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.[12]

Operational history

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 third 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.[13]

On June 8, 1991, a JH-7 prototype suddenly begun to leak fuel in great amount 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).[13]

On August 19, 1992, the entire rudder of JH-7 suddenly fell off at altitude of 5000 meters, while carrying 4 live missiles. Against order 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 stopped safely.[13]

The JH-7A entered service with the PLANAF in early 2004, and with the PLAAF by the end of the year.[14]

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.[15]

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.[16]


 People's Republic of China


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  • 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.
  • FBC-1 Flying Leopard – Export version of the JH-7.
  • FBC-1A Flying Leopard II – Export version of the JH-7A.

Specifications (JH-7)

Data from AVIC I,

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2: pilot, weapons operator
  • Payload: 9,000 kg[5][6] (19,842 lb) of weapons
  • Length: 22.32 m (73 ft 2 in)
  • Wingspan: 12.8 m (41 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 6.22 m (20 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: m² (ft²)
  • Empty weight: 14,500 kg[18] (31,900 lb)
  • Loaded weight: kg (lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 28,475 kg[19] (62,720 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Xian WS9 (a license-built Spey Mk202) afterburning turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 54.29 kN (12,250 lbf) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 91.26 kN (20,515 lbf) each


  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.75 (1,808 km/h, 1,122 mph)
  • Combat radius: 1,759 km (890 nm, 1,093 mi)
  • Ferry range: 3,700 km(1,970 nm, 2,299 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 16,000 m (51,180 ft)
  • Wing loading: kg/m² (lb/ft²)


JL-10A radar

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Adam Baddeley (February 2014). "The AMR Regional Air Force Directory 2011". Asian Military Review. Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  2. "British and Russian Technology for the Xian JH-7A FLOUNDER". U.S.-China Economic and Security review commission. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  3. "JH-7/A (FBC-1) Fighter-bomber". 13 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  4. "JH7 FBC1 fighter bomber and Spey turbofan, Chinese PLAAF". Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Fuel needs limit China's combat ability". 28 December 2007. Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Xian JH-7". Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  7. "JH-7A for PLAAF". 25 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011.*/ Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  8. Copter HMS
  9. JH-7A HMS
  10. JH-7A front cockpit
  11. "JH-7 Avionics". Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  12. Paperless design of JH-7 with CATIA
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "JH-7 Accidents". Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  14. "JH-7 History". 24 October 2008. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  15. "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. 
  16. "Missing pilot confirmed dead after plane plummets at China air show". Xinhua News Agency. 15 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  17. "Chinese fighter crashes at air show". BBC World News. 14 October 2011. 
  18. CATIC brochure, Zhuhai 1998
  19. CATIC website,
  20. "PL-5 Short-range Air-to-air Missile". 9 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  21. "YJ-8K (C-801K) Air-launched Anti-ship Missile". 9 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  22. "YJ-82K (C-802K) Air-launched Anti-ship Missile". 9 April 2006. Archived from the original on 30 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  23. "JH-7A KD-88 Air-to-ground Missile". 25 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011.*/ Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  24. "KH-31P/YJ-91 Anit-radiation Missile". 1 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 

see also International AirPower Revue, Vol. 25, Focus Aircraft: Xian JH-7 'Flounder', p. 52-75, ISSN 1473-9917, AIRtime Publishing, 2008.

External links

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