In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Grande Strategy

Chinese FC-1 / JF-17 As Q-5 Replacement

4/5/2012
Meinhaj Hussain, m.hussain@grandestrategy.com

While the J-10 and J-11 are becoming the backbone of china's air superiority force, the FC-1 has been commented upon as a fighter that China perhaps does not need. There is some speculation though that the FC-1, built to Chinese needs will serve as a potential replacement for China's Q-5s. Incidentally, the first aircraft to be replaced by the JF-17 in Pakistani service is the A-5, an export version of the Q-5s. The Q-5s in Chinese service are highly outdated, and a large portion of the Chinese fleet of Q-5s are ageing and sorely need replacement.

The FC-1 airframe has all the necessary characteristics to be an ideal Q-5 replacement - it has excellent low level and low speed characteristics, STOL capability, a design that inherently minimizes battle damage to vital sectors such as the engine, and a built-in cannon. Integration of air-to-ground munition is already well advanced, and a two-seater is said to be well underway.

A cheap CAS (Close Air Support) aircraft just may be what PLAAF needs, given that the J-10's aerodynamics is not particularly suited for the Job, and the J-11s, while having the low wing-loading and slow speed handling, may just be too big and too valuable an asset for the task.

One critical problem with the FC-1 vis-a-vis Chinese service has been the foreign engine. However, recent development suggest the WS-13 development is headed in the right direction, as indicated by the J-31's planeform and class of engine used. It seems particularly reflective that the Chinese aircraft industry is putting its faith that the WS-13 will come through. RUMINT suggests too that the WS-13 is now in advanced development. With the WS-13 development now reaching its final stages, the FC-1 seems poised to start its career with the PLAAF.
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