China continues to modernize its armed forces at a rapid pace and has now introduced a third-generation supersonic trainer aircraft.
Beijing is investing heavily in research and development for military technology, both to improve its own armed forces and to sell technology to other countries. The new trainer aircraft is designed to enable fighter pilots to be trained in less time than before, according to NDTV.
New plane to facilitate training of Chinese fighter pilots
Attendees at military flight schools will now be trained in the new aircraft in preparation for a career flying advanced fighter jets. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force Aviation University began using an unspecified number of JL-9 Mountain Eagle two-seater trainer jets this month, said the official Chinese military newspaper the PLA Air Force’s Daily.
The JL-9 Mountain Eagle was developed and built by Guizhou Aviation Industry Group, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corp of China. The new plane can reach speeds of 1,837 kilometres per hour, and boasts a maximum range of 2,400 km. Its maximum takeoff weight is 9.8 metric tons.
The PLA Daily cited senior university instructor Liu Yuequan, who said that the new aircraft can train pilots to fly both second- and third-generation fighter planes, in addition to carrying out some combat operations.
PLA Air Force modernizing at rapid pace
China is building a number of new planes, including a stealth fighter, but still relies largely on Russia to supply engines for its craft. The standard of indigenous Chinese military technology has improved at an impressive rate in the past few decades.
Speaking with China Daily yesterday, aviation equipment expert Fu Qianshao said: “In the past, the PLA Air Force lacked an advanced trainer aircraft, so it had to adopt the second-generation JJ-7 trainer jet to conduct advanced training for students.”
He later added that the JJ-7 was developed from the J-7 fighter jet, built around 50 years ago. It was limited to training second-generation fighter jet pilots, according to Mr. Fu.
“However, a large proportion of our new pilots will operate third-generation J-10s, J-11s and JH-7s as soon as they join combat units. An advanced trainer aircraft was needed badly to connect flight students with our top fighter jets,” he said.
Fighter pilots will be familiarized with latest generation fighter jets
One major benefit of the JL-9 is that pilots will be trained in a shorter time. They will also become familiar with the third-generation fighter planes that they may be expected to pilot after they finish school.
Wang Ya’nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, claims that the JL-9 offers significant improvements over the JJ-7 when it comes to control, maneuverability and ease of takeoff and landing. “Two of the most difficult things that flight students have to deal with on the antiquated JJ-7 are take offs and landings,” he said.
“These take a lot of time to learn and practice but ultimately prove to be useless because the third-generation aircraft they will fly have different takeoff and landing procedures,” Wang said. “Using the JL-9 will help them to save a great deal of time in adapting to real fighter jets when they start flying them,” he said.
China’s military strength continues to improve and government spending on modernization programs shows no sign of slowing down. One shred of comfort for the U.S. and other potential Chinese adversaries is that much of the equipment may look impressive but it has never been tested in battle.