In the current payroll of the Chinese Air Force, the following three types of fighters are considered the mainstays, with the most respectable numbers and combat capabilities.
First to mention the J-20 fighter. This is the only stealth fighter in the service of the Chinese Air Force at the moment.
J-20 fighter is self-researched and manufactured by China. This is considered a “trump card” fighter, helping China to confront the US 5th generation F-35 and F-22 fighters.
According to western media China have currently more than 200 J-20 fighter aircraft and by the end of this century, the total production of the J-20 series of stealth fighters will at least exceed the 500 mark.
However, the fatal weakness of this fighter is that China is forced to import engines from Russia. The Chinese-made jet engines themselves, cannot meet the requirements of the J-20 However, this weakness is being tried by China to eliminate, by releasing a few experimental versions of the J-20 , using domestic engines.
The J-20 adopts a comprehensive layout structure of “canard wing + side strip wing + lift body”, which combines the full-motion duck wing, side strip wing and lift the body.
China’s largest and cheapest fighter today is the J-10. According to many statistical documents, by 2021, at least 540 J-10s have been built by the Chinese Air Force. The Chengdu J-10 fighter is a reliable mainstay multirole aircraft of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
The development of the Firebird began in 1988 as an answer to the Soviet Su-27 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum, amid the backdrop of the ongoing rivalry between the two then-communist powers.
Designed by the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute, China‘s J-10 was devised with state-of-the-art radar and missile technology in mind and was intended to be a replacement for the J-7 fighter aircraft and the Q-5 ground-attack aircraft.
China’s initial version of the fighter, the J-10A, was a relatively basic fourth-generation fighter that entered service in 2004.
The J-10B, an upgraded version of the fighter, had its first flight in 2008 and entered service in 2014, including air-refueling capability and improvements in its thrust-vector capabilities and radar technologies.
Most recently in the Firebird’s development, the J-10C variant notably is the first Thunderbird to include a domestically produced engine.
The J-10 can carry Chinese laser-guided bombs, anti-ship missiles, and land-attack missiles in keeping with its multirole classification.
The aircraft’s official specifications indicate a maximum flight speed of 1,350 kilometers per hour, a combat range of 1,240 kilometers, and a patrol range of 2,600 kilometers with air refueling support.
The J-10C includes a modern Active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, which would allow the PLAAF to continue to employ the Firebird into the medium-term future, just as the United States Air Force plans to employ the F-16 alongside newer airframes.
To date, no variant of the J-10 has been operationally tested or experienced combat like some of its fourth-generation peers such as the F-16 or Su-27. Nonetheless, China’s PLAAF leadership has assigned the J-10 the role of the “backbone” of the air force.
In addition to using the air force and navy, China also exports the J-10 to foreign countries. However, so far, only one country has put the J-10 into combat service, which is Pakistan.
The J-16 is a multi-role fighter jet, which was introduced in 2004. The aircraft is equipped with a modified AESA radar and is capable of conducting both air-to-air as well as air-to-ground combat missions.
It was previously reported by Chinese media that more than 200 J-16 heavy fighter jets were officially in service in China. J-16 fighter aircraft is the bomb truck of PLAAF. According to Chinese site J-16 carry more than 9 tons of weapons which is similar to Rafale but less than the US F-15 but more than the Indian air force Su-30MKI. Frankly J-16 is a truly air superiority fighter aircraft of PLAAF.
According to some information China will build at least 350 J-16 fighter to replace the old Russian and USSR made flanker series aircraft
J-16 is the middle man between J10 and J-20, which can not only form a combat advantage over ordinary fourth-generation aircraft in other countries but also does not require the high cost of the J-20.
The J-16 will be used as a high-end model to fill the huge gap in combat power between the fourth-generation aircraft and the fifth-generation aircraft . It can not only form a team with the J-10 and J-11, and act as the main attacker of the fleet; it can also cooperate with the J-20 to assist the J-20 in performing difficult and high-value tasks.
J-16 is equipped with a third-generation active phased array radar made of gallium nitride semiconductor materials, which is similar to the fifth-generation aircraft. The J-20 radar with the same technology has higher power and longer detection distance. According to official data, the maximum detection range of the J-16’s radar can exceed 250 kilometers