China’s budget jet fighters on course for Asian airspace
Unique cost-performance of versatile, multirole aircraft appeal to buyers with limited budgets to replace aging MiG-21, F-5
After submarines for Thailand and littoral patrol ships for Malaysia, China’s defense industry conglomerates continue to reap orders from South and Southeast Asia.
The state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) indicated on its WeChat account earlier this week that it had a haul of orders from an unspecified Southeast Asian county for its FTC-2000G multipurpose aircraft, the export version of the J-7 interceptor jet that ceased production in 2013, which in turn was a license-built version of the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21.
AVIC stressed it owned “independent intellectual property rights of the aircraft.”
The company said the first batch of FTC-2000Gs with improved aerodynamics and fuel capacity would roll off its production line in Anshun in southwestern Guizhou province for their maiden flights by the end of this month, and the aircraft would then head for the southern city of Zhuhai in Guangdong province for the China Airshow, to be held in November.
Xinhua also reported on Wednesday that the first FTC-2000G finished production and was pulled out from the plant to appear at a ceremony held by its manufacture, Guizhou Aviation Industry Corp under the AVIC umbrella.
AVIC said the versatile aircraft would suit patrols, training, aerial combat and ground attack and could be fully converted into a reconnaissance plane.
The aircraft uses a diverterless supersonic inlet, a large leading edge root extension and has up to seven hard points for armament with a maximum suspension weight of 3,000 kilograms. It has an endurance of three hours and a range of 2,500 kilometers.
Observers say the FTC-2000G could be highly marketable across Southeast Asia and Africa where many air forces have long been rustling up their fleets made up of the outmoded MiG-21, F-5 and the like that are nearing the end of their service lives.
Compared with rival offerings like South Korea’s FA-50 and Italy’s M-346, the FTC-2000G’s distinctive cost-performance appeals to foreign militaries with limited budgets to upgrade their fleets.
Previous buyers of China-built aircraft, including Myanmar and Pakistan, will be its potential clients, an expert told the Global Times.