Shenyang J-8
The Shenyang J-8 (Jian-8; NATO reporting name
NATO reporting name
NATO reporting names are classified code names for military equipment of the Eastern Bloc...

: Finback; ) is a high-speed, high-altitude Chinese
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

-built single-seat interceptor
Interceptor aircraft
An interceptor aircraft is a type of fighter aircraft designed specifically to prevent missions of enemy aircraft, particularly bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. Interceptors generally rely on high speed and powerful armament in order to complete their mission as quickly as possible and set up...

 fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...



The effort to develop an all-weather interceptor began in full in 1964 and this produced the first Chinese-designed and built jet fighter to combat new, high altitude threats such as the B-58 Hustler
B-58 Hustler
The Convair B-58 Hustler was the first operational supersonic jet bomber capable of Mach 2 flight. The aircraft was designed by Convair engineer Robert H. Widmer and developed for the United States Air Force for service in the Strategic Air Command during the 1960s...

 bomber, F-105 Thunderchief
F-105 Thunderchief
The Republic F-105 Thunderchief, was a supersonic fighter-bomber used by the United States Air Force. The Mach 2 capable F-105 conducted the majority of strike bombing missions during the early years of the Vietnam War; it has the dubious distinction of being the only US aircraft to have been...

 fighter-bomber and Lockheed U-2
Lockheed U-2
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency . It provides day and night, very high-altitude , all-weather intelligence gathering...

 spy plane. In 1964 the People's Liberation Army Air Force
People's Liberation Army Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Air Force is the aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army, the military of the People's Republic of China...

 requested an aircraft from Shenyang Aircraft Corporation
Shenyang Aircraft Corporation
Shenyang Aircraft Corporation is a Chinese civilian and military aircraft manufacturer located in Shenyang. Founded in 1953, it is one of the oldest aircraft manufacturers in the People's Republic of China. Many aircraft manufacturers in China such as Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group or Guizhou...

 and the 601 Institute to develop a fighter/interceptor to counter bombers and spy planes as the, then, newly introduced Chengdu J-7
Chengdu J-7
The Chengdu Jian-7 is a People's Republic of China-built version of the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21. Though production ceased in 2008 it continues to serve, mostly as an interceptor, in several air forces, including China's.-Design and development:...

 (a reverse engineered MiG-21F-13
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed "balalaika", from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the Russian stringed musical instrument or ołówek by Polish pilots due to...

) was incapable of doing so. The prototype took its maiden flight in 1969. Despite the early mid to late 1960s origins of the J-8, due to political turmoils such as the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, the J-8 was not produced until 1979 and entered service in 1980. Its basic configuration resembles an enlargement of the delta-wing of the J-7, with two Liyang (LMC) Wopen-7A turbojet engines and a maximum speed of Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 2.2. The twin engined J-8 competed with rival Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group
Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group
Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group is a Chinese aerospace conglomerate that manufactures aircraft parts as well as designs and manufactures combat aircraft. It was founded in 1958 to be a supplier of aircraft for the Chinese military...

's single, turbofan powered engine, canard-delta J-9
Chengdu J-9

 project and ultimately emerged as the victor largely due to the existing availability of the former's MiG-21 based powerplant and proven layout, while the J-9 project was cancelled in 1980 due to difficulty in creating a suitably powerful engine.

In order to house a large radar set, the design called for a solid nose and variable geometry side air intakes. However, the lack of familiarity with this type of intake meant the J-8 had to settle for a MiG-21 style nose intake. The solid nose J-8 was finally realized in the J-8II (Finback-B), which was based on the layout of the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 is a variable-geometry fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the Soviet Union. It is considered to belong to the Soviet third generation jet fighter category, along with similarly aged Soviet fighters such as the MiG-25 "Foxbat"...

 Flogger fighter. The radar chosen for the J-8 was the Type 204 mono-pulse fire-control radar, a primitive ranging radar for daylight within-visual-range operations. The performance of the radar fell well short of the PLAAFs requirements as research into a more capable fire control radar and power source proved difficult and time-consuming. The aircraft was originally armed with cannons and seven hardpoints for missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

s, bomb
A bomb is any of a range of explosive weapons that only rely on the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy...

s, rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

s or fuel tanks. The original weapons layout of the J-8 was two 30 mm Type 30-1 cannons after initial problems with the 30 mm Type 30-II four-barrel Gatling gun. The J-8 was also planned to be armed with the experimental PL-4 medium ranged missile but technical issues and political upheavals prevented any indepth development and the project was cancelled in 1985 citing unsatisfactory performance. Therefore the PL-2 IR-homing short-range anti-aircraft missile (SRAAM) was used instead. Unguided bombs and rockets can also be carried on the J-8. And nowadays with the development of light-wight military nuclear weaponry, J-8II will now be able to carry the missiles with nuclear warheads.

Despite entering service relatively recently, it was comparable to many older Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 fighter designs, with limited maneuverability. The original combat avionics package was soon replaced with an all-weather capability in aircraft designated J-8I (Finback-A). The J-8I (later redesignated as the J-8A) received a new gun sight, onboard computer, new cockpit design, and redesigned ejection escape system and oxygen supply system. The gun armament was also changed from two 30 mm cannons to a single 23 mm twin-barreled cannon and the PL-5 short ranged AAM was also equipped. The later J-8E featured improved electronic warfare
Electronic warfare
Electronic warfare refers to any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or impede enemy assaults via the spectrum. The purpose of electronic warfare is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly...

 systems. The unsatisfactory performance of the J-8I led to a very short production run of 20-50 aircraft and the J-8I has slowly began being phased out as early as the 1990s. A tactical reconnaissance variant of the J-8, known as the JZ-8 was developed in the mid 1980s to take advantage of the J-8s few favourable qualities, most notably its capability of reaching high speeds and altitudes to replace the Shenyang JZ-6
Shenyang J-6
The Shenyang J-6 was the Chinese-built version of the Soviet MiG-19 'Farmer' fighter aircraft.-Design and development:...

 in the tactical reconnaissance role. Using an under-fuselage reconnaissance pod with a KA-112A long focal-length optical camera, the JZ-8 usually operates at heights ranging from 9,500~15,000m during reconnaissance missions. By 1982 work began to replace the unimpressive J-8I type with a new design known as the J-8II. The new 1982 requirements from the PLAAF demanded being capable of beyond visual range combat (BVR) with the use medium ranged missiles (MRAAM) and secondary ground attack capabilities. In terms of performance, the aircraft was expected to have better aerodynamic performance at medium to low altitudes and at transonic speeds.


The J-8II series appear quite different from the original J-8, with a new forward fuselage, intakes and nose structure more reminiscent of the F-4 Phantom II
F-4 Phantom II
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable,...

 or Sukhoi Su-15
Sukhoi Su-15
The Sukhoi Su-15 was a twin-engined supersonic interceptor developed by the Soviet Union in the 1960s to replace the Sukhoi Su-11, which was becoming obsolete as the United States and Britain introduced newer and more capable strategic bombers...

 to house a new, more powerful radar. J-8IIs are powered by Wopen-13A (WP-13A) engines. The design and development team was led by Gu Songfen, who is also a key member of J-8I design team.

It was hoped to equip the production J-8B with an American AN/APG-66(V) radar (to be dubbed the J-8C), but this proved politically impossible after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

 so the indigenous Type 208A mono-pulse fire-control radar initially was used. Although the Type 208A was an improvement over the original J-8I radar, the Type 208A did not have true beyond visual range capabilities (The detection range of the Type 208 was 40 km) nor look-down/shoot-up ground attack capabilities, thereby falling short of the PLAAFs initial requirements and the redesign of the airframe. The J-8B was the early production batch of the new J-8II series. In addition to receiving a new radar, new engine and a completely redesigned noses, cockpit and intake, the J-8B also benefited from a new HUD, integrated inertial navigation system
Inertial navigation system
An inertial navigation system is a navigation aid that uses a computer, motion sensors and rotation sensors to continuously calculate via dead reckoning the position, orientation, and velocity of a moving object without the need for external references...

/Global positioning satellite system
Global Positioning System
The Global Positioning System is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites...

 and TACN technology
Tactical Air Navigation
A tactical air navigation system, commonly referred to by the acronym TACAN, is a navigation system used by military aircraft. It provides the user with bearing and distance to a ground or ship-borne station. It is a more accurate version of the VOR/DME system that provides bearing and range...

. Later J-8Bs were equipped with the more robust KLJ-1 pulse-Doppler fire-control radar and radar warning receiver, theoretically giving the later batch BVR capabilities. At least 30 J-8Bs have been converted by the PLA Navy to J-8D standard, with an in-flight refuelling probe for use with Xian H-6DU
Tupolev Tu-16
The Tupolev Tu-16 was a twin-engine jet bomber used by the Soviet Union. It has flown for more than 50 years, and the Chinese license-built Xian H-6 remains in service with the Chinese air force.-Development:...

 tankers in addition to newly built J-8Ds. The most significant difference between the J-8B and J-8D is the use of the new Type-02 airframe that was heavier than the J-8B and featured uneven length wing fences. The heavier 'Type 02' airframe is able to carry a larger payload and can tolerate higher G-loadings. The new airframe also has a stiffer radome. A few minor differences between the later J-8B batches and the J-8D are the J-8Ds slightly improved avionics. The use of the KLJ-1 pulse-Doppler radar was used through the J-8Ds entire production run. The J-8B and J-8D both suffered from China's difficulty in developing a MRAAM. Although the Type 208A was theoretically capable of using semi-active radar homing missiles and the KLJ-1 was certainly capable; no such missile, semi-active or active, were available at the time. Both variants were only initially armed with SRAAMs such as the PL-2 and PL-5, and the more advanced infrared-homing PL-8 SRAAM.

An early attempt to remedy these technological shortcoming that were still presenting themselves after the redesign of the J-8 to the J-8II was the J-8C project which began short after the failure to obtain American cooperation for the J-8B so instead Shenyang turned to Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and Russia. The J-8C was considered a 'radical' upgrade of the original J-8II with a new radar based on the Israeli Elta EL/M 2035 multi-mode pulse Doppler radar, digital fire-control system, a new ‘glass’ cockpit, in-flight refuelling probe and equipped with a new WP-14 Kunlun engine. These upgrades are said to 'bring the fighter into the same league as modern Russian and Western fighters such as Mikoyan MiG-29
Mikoyan MiG-29
The Mikoyan MiG-29 is a fourth-generation jet fighter aircraft designed in the Soviet Union for an air superiority role. Developed in the 1970s by the Mikoyan design bureau, it entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1983, and remains in use by the Russian Air Force as well as in many other...

 and Dassault Mirage 2000-5'. The project was cancelled in the late 1990s after two prototypes were built in favour of further development of the Shenyang J-11
Shenyang J-11
The Shenyang J-11 with NATO reporting name: Flanker B+ is a single-seat, twin-engine jet fighter based on the Soviet-designed Sukhoi Su-27 air superiority fighter produced by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation...

 fighter (which is based on the Sukhoi Su-27
Sukhoi Su-27
The Sukhoi Su-27 is a twin-engine supermanoeuverable fighter aircraft designed by Sukhoi. It was intended as a direct competitor for the large United States fourth generation fighters, with range, heavy armament, sophisticated avionics and high manoeuvrability...

). The J-8IIM, first flown in 1996, is a further improved version. One major improvement over the J-8II is the capable Russian-made Zhuk-8II coherent pulse doppler radar, 100 of which have been delivered in the 1990s. Additionally, the J-8IIM carried new multifunction displays, integrated INS/GPS navigation system, new fire-control systems, new alternators and a new electronic countermeasures suite. The J-8IIM possessed true BVR capabilities with the use of the Vympel R-27 semi-active infrared seeker medium-ranged missile. New WP-13B turbojet engines were adopted as well. The J-8IIM has had no new orders from China or the export market, where it is offered as the F-8IIM. It was heavily marketed to Iran but ultimately was not exported anywhere. However the experience and technological achievements gained from the J-8C and F-8IIM projects were later applied by Shenyang Aircraft Company to the later J-8H/F variants.

It was also during this time that the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology certified the PL-11 in 2001 after successfully test firing five missiles from the J-8II. The PL-11 is a copy of the Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Selenia Aspide
Selenia Aspide
The Aspide is an Italian medium range air-to-air and surface-to-air missile produced by Selenia . It is provided with semi-active radar-homing seeker...

 semi-active radar homing medium ranged missile originally acquired in 1989 before Italy refused to cooperate further with the Chinese government in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square incident. This slowed down China's testing of the missile considerably, preventing the J-8B/D from carrying the missile when they were introduced in the 1990s, as the original plan had intended.

The J-8H configuration features the more powerful WP-13B turbojet engines, improved avionics and the improved Type 1471 Pulse Doppler fire control radar with look-down/shoot-down
Look-down/shoot-down is a capability a radar system is said to possess if it is able to detect, track and put a weapon onto an air target moving below the horizon as seen by the radar...

 capability and a range of new operating modes. With the radar upgrade comes the ability to fire the PL-11 and the PL-12/SD-10 MRAAM
The PL-12 , also designated SD-10 , is a radar-guided air-to-air missile developed by China's Luoyang Electro-Optical Technology Development Center...

 which employs an Active Radar Homing (ARH) seeker. The J-8H also is equipped with IFR probe, INS/GPS, HOTAS, integrated ECM suite, with twin wing fences on each side of the wings that greatly increased handling ability. The J-8Ds heavier airframe is used but with modified wing fences. Production of the J-8H and the J-8D it had superseded has now ceased in favor of upgrading earlier J-8D aircraft to J-8H standards. It is uncertain if the older J-8B will be upgraded to J-8H standards gvien the difference in airframe. The J-8F is the most modern and capable J-8 variant currently in service and has been in production since 2003. The J-8H/F has inherited many of the improvements of the earlier J-8C and F-8IIM, and in some cases, has improved on them. The J-8F features a glass cockpit
Glass cockpit
A glass cockpit is an aircraft cockpit that features electronic instrument displays, typically large LCD screens, as opposed to the traditional style of analog dials and gauges...

, a more powerful WP-13BII turbojet engine and enhanced Type 1492 radar for enhanced air-to-air capabilities with the PL-12 active-radar medium range missile, full air-to-ground and air-to-sea capabilities using the AS-17 'Krypton'
The Kh-31 is a Russian air-to-surface missile carried by aircraft such as the MiG-29 or Su-27. It is a sea skimming cruise missile with a range of or more and capable of Mach 3.5, the first supersonic anti-ship missile that could be launched by tactical aircraft.There are several variants, it is...

 anti-radar missile and a variety of Chinese designed precision guided laser and satellite guided bombs, making it the first true multi-role variant of the J-8 series. The J-8F also possesses all the avionic and electronic upgrades the J-8H received as well. The earlier J-8B/Ds can be easily distinguished from later J-8H/Fs by their dark green radomes compared to the later's black radomes. Introduction of the more powerful WP-14 Kunlun turbojet engine for the J-8 series is planned to go under way in the coming years. The J-8F also serves in the People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force
People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force is the naval aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army Navy of the People's Republic of China.-Mission:Primary Mission* Provide fleet air defense for PLAN surface combatants...

 as well. A notable variant of the J-8F is the JZ-8F which has quietly been introduced into the PLAAF in the tactical reconnaissance role. Very little information has been released on the JZ-8F, other than the use of an internal camera compartment replacing the twin 23 mm cannon rather than a camera pod used by the older JZ-8.

In 1988, one J-8II airframe was converted into the J-8ACT an experimental
Experimental aircraft
An experimental aircraft is an aircraft that has not yet been fully proven in flight. Often, this implies that new aerospace technologies are being tested on the aircraft, though the label is more broad....

 fly-by-wire testbed for the J-10
Chengdu J-10
The Chengdu J-10 is a multirole fighter aircraft designed and produced by the People's Republic of China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation for the People's Liberation Army Air Force...

 program. The J-8ACT had a shorter fueslage and a pair of canards were affixed to the side of each intake and replaced older FBW technological demonstrators based on the older Shenyang J-6
Shenyang J-6
The Shenyang J-6 was the Chinese-built version of the Soviet MiG-19 'Farmer' fighter aircraft.-Design and development:...

 and J-8I airframes. To date, no plans for a twin-seat J-8 design have been announced.

Soviet connection

The J-8 project was made possible largely due to the transfer of MiG-21 technology from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in 1961. However, this aircraft lacked the speed, range, altitude, and radar capability the PLAAF needed in an all-weather interceptor. The nascent Chinese jet aircraft industry was established mostly with Soviet assistance and Chinese designers followed Soviet design methodology for the J-8. A Soviet experimental aircraft known as the Ye-152 "Flipper" with similar configuration may have influenced the J-8 layout, as did the Sukhoi Su-15
Sukhoi Su-15
The Sukhoi Su-15 was a twin-engined supersonic interceptor developed by the Soviet Union in the 1960s to replace the Sukhoi Su-11, which was becoming obsolete as the United States and Britain introduced newer and more capable strategic bombers...

 'Flagon-A' airframe.

After the Chinese military delegation led by Field Marshal
Yuan Shuai
Yuan Shuai was a Chinese military rank that corresponds to a marshal in other nations. It is given to distinguished generals during China's dynastic and republican periods. A higher level rank of Da Yuan Shuai , which corresponds to a Generalissimo, also existed.-People's Republic of China:The...

 Peng Dehuai
Peng Dehuai
Peng Dehuai was a prominent military leader of the Communist Party of China, and China's Defence Minister from 1954 to 1959. Peng was an important commander during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese civil war and was also the commander-in-chief of People's Volunteer Army in the Korean War...

 visited Soviet Union in the late 1950s, some believe China subsequently purchased the incomplete Soviet design of Ye-152 (E-12) fighter. Several Russian and Chinese sources do claim The J-8 was modeled upon the Soviet Ye-152A and several Russian authors claim the Ye-152A documentation was sold to China and used for the development of the J-8I, in fact the Chinese designer Wong Nanso said this in an interview regarding Soviet influence on Chinese aviation:

"We wouldn't have anything without hand-in-hand tutelage from the Soviets. Even the Dongfeng 107 (early Chinese supersonic fighter) design team included Soviet experts. Also regarding some aspects of the J-8 aerodynamic characteristics, we studied some results from Soviet design. Of course, "the abbot can open the door to the monastery, but spiritual achievement is up to the individual."

This seems to confirm what has been written in several Russian sources that do claim the Ye-152 documentation was sold to China. The hope of joint development or any Soviet help was lost when the relationship between the two countries soured during the Sino-Soviet Split
Sino-Soviet split
In political science, the term Sino–Soviet split denotes the worsening of political and ideologic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Cold War...


Operational history

There are currently over 300 J-8s of all types serving in the People's Liberation Army Air Force
People's Liberation Army Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Air Force is the aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army, the military of the People's Republic of China...

 and People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force
People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force is the naval aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army Navy of the People's Republic of China.-Mission:Primary Mission* Provide fleet air defense for PLAN surface combatants...

. The J-8 is expected to be superseded by modern J-10 and J-11 variants in the coming years.

April 2001 incident

On 1 April 2001, a Chinese J-8D fighter jet collided
Hainan Island incident
On April 1, 2001, a mid-air collision between a United States Navy EP-3E ARIES II signals intelligence aircraft and a People's Liberation Army Navy J-8II interceptor fighter jet resulted in an international dispute between the United States and the People's Republic of China called the Hainan...

 with a U.S. EP-3
EP-3E Aries II
|-See also:-References:* Winchester, Jim, ed. Military Aircraft of the Cold War . London: Grange Books plc, 2006. ISBN 1-84013-929-3.-External links:* and * *...

 reconnaissance aircraft flying over disputed waters about 70 miles (112.7 km) south of China. The EP-3 crew was forced to make an emergency landing on China's Hainan
Hainan is the smallest province of the People's Republic of China . Although the province comprises some two hundred islands scattered among three archipelagos off the southern coast, of its land mass is Hainan Island , from which the province takes its name...

 Island; according to Chinese officials, the pilot of the J-8D, Wang Wei, ejected, but he was never found and is presumed dead. American reconnaissance crews had been intercepted many times before, in some instances the interceptors flew as close as ten meters away from the American surveillance aircraft. The crew of 24 Americans was eventually allowed to return home on 11 April. The American aircraft was not returned for another 3 months.

J-8 (Finback-A) Series

First flew on 5 July 1969. Initial day fighter variant, resembles an enlarged MiG-21. Equipped with 2 x WP-7A turbojet engines, SR-4 ranging radar 2 x Type 30-I 30mm cannon (200 rounds each), and 2 x PL-2 IR-guided AAMs. Limited production.

First flew in 24 April 1981. Improved all-weather version with SL-7A fire-control radar (40 km range), twin-barrel Type 23-III 23 mm cannon, & up to 4 AAMs (or rockets/bombs). Limited production.

Mid-life upgrade for J-8I.

JZ-8 (J-8R)
Reconnaissance version of J-8 or J-8I.

First flew on 24 June 1990, fly-by-wire testbed aircraft.

J-8II (Finback-B) Series

J-8II (Finback-B)
First flew on 12 June 1984. Improved J-8I prototype with redesigned nose/front section and fuselage. Replaced nose air inlet with solid nose and lateral air intakes, similar to those of the MiG-23
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 is a variable-geometry fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the Soviet Union. It is considered to belong to the Soviet third generation jet fighter category, along with similarly aged Soviet fighters such as the MiG-25 "Foxbat"...

 China indeed received several MiG-23s in the late 1970s from Egypt and the hinged ventral fin and lateral intakes shown reversed engineering of these MiG-23 features into the J-8II, in fact China followed a very similar development process to the Su-15 when from the Sukhoi T-5, the large T-58 (Su-15) was spawned, the MiG-23PD also has some similarities with the J-8II however the MiG-23PD is a single engined experimental fighter with direct lift engines, but the transformation of the MiG-21 into the MiG-23PD was mirrored in the J-8II. Equipped with Type 208 (SL-4A) monopulse radar (40 km range).

J-8II Batch 02 (J-8IIB)
First flew in November 1989, improved J-8II with SL-8A (Type 208?) PD radar (70 km range). Powered by 2 x WP-13AII turbojet engines. Armed with twin-barrel 23mm Type 23-III cannon (copy of GSh-23L) and up to 4 PL-5 or PL-8 AAMs (or rockets/bombs). No BVR capability.

Peace Pearl J-8 (J-8II)
During the Sino-US cooperation era, up to 50 J-8IIs were to be delivered to the US for upgrades and installation of AN/APG-66(v) radar and fire control system for US$500 million, under the Peace Pearl program. However, the project was canceled and only about 24 J-8II were produced. USAF Air Force Flight Test Center(6510 Squadron)took the task of test flight of modified J-8II.

First flew in 1988, fly-by-wire testbed and technology demonstrator.

J-8IID (J-8D)
First flew on 21 November 1990, modified J-8B with fixed refuelling probe and updated avionics such as TACAN navigation system.

Unveiled in Zhuhai Air Show 1996, export version of J-8B with Russian Phazotron Zhuk-8II PD radar (75 km range, and able to track up to ten airborne targets and attack two of them simultaneously), R-27R1 (AA-10) AAM and Kh-31P anti-radiation missile. The F-8IIM was to be powered by two, more powerful WP-13B turbojet engines. This aircraft is often mistakenly referred to as the "J-8IIM" with Kh-31A anti-ship missile (ASM) capability, but its radar lacked sea search mode for anti-shipping role. The F-8IIM Failed to attract any export customers and no domestic orders. Conversion from older airframe was reportedly much fewer than the 100 units of Zhuk-8II radar delivered, and the conversion might have only been an experimental program with none entering service.
The F-8IIM fighter will probably be equipped with Russia's or China's helmet sight and advanced PL-9 and P-73 missiles. Phazotron, a Russian firm, has signed contracts with China to provide 150-200 improved Zhuk radars mainly in support of China's new F-8II fighter, but also to equip the new Chengdu J-10 fighter. These radars have six times the data and signal processing power of the basic variant and greater detection range than the current 80KM. They can track while scanning on 24 targets, display up to 8 of them, and simultaneously provide fire-control solutions for 2-4 of them.

J-8III (J-8C)
Upgraded J-8II with FBW system and 2 x WP-14 powerplants. Compared to the J-8II, the J-8C had a number of improvements including a new multi-mode pulse Doppler radar which was reportedly based on the Israeli Elta EL/M 2035 radar technology. The aircraft was also equipped with a digital fire-control system and a new ‘glass’ cockpit with multifunctional displays (MFD). The J-8C programme entered full scale development around 1991 and the aircraft first flew successfully in 1993. Development halted in favor of other version described below, but was used to test new radars such as Type 1471 (KLJ-1) and other avionics associated with FBW system. From this version on, electronic warfare pods such as BM/KG300G
The BM/KG300G self protection jamming pod is an airborne ECM pod that was first revealed to the public at 1998 Zhuhai Air Show, China, and it is designed by Southwest Institute of Electronic Equipment at Chengdu....

 and KZ900
The KZ900 reconnaissance pod is an airborne SIGINT pod, used by the Chinese Military, that was first revealed to the public at 1998 Zhuhai Air Show, and it is designed by Southwestern Institute of Electrical and Electronics at Chengdu....

, as well as navigational / targeting pods including Blue Sky navigation pod
Blue Sky navigation pod
The Blue Sky navigation pod is an airborne navigation / targeting pod designed to provide aircraft with all weather / night attack capabilities. It was first revealed to the public at 1998 Zhuhai Air Show, and it is designed by CLETRI, or more commonly known as the 607th Institute...

 and FILAT
FILAT pod is an airborne attack pod designed to provide aircraft with all weather / night attack capabilities...

 become operational on J-8II.

J-8IIH (J-8H)
First flew in December 1998, upgraded J-8II with new glass cockpit, WP-13B power plant, Type 1471 (KLJ-1) PD radar (75 km range) with look-down, shoot-down capability. Can use medium-range R-27 (AA-10), PL-11 AAMs, and YJ-91 anti-radiation ASMs.

J-8IIF (J-8F)
First flew in 2000, J-8H with WP-13BII powerplant, in-flight refueling probe, and Type 1492 PD radar. Successfully test-fired PL-12/SD-10 AAM in 2004. It is reported that during 2006-2008, J-8II production suffered major setback due to engine problem.

An advanced modified variant of the J-8II tasked with the suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) mission was said to have been developed by the SAC in 2000s. The aircraft, reportedly designated J-8G, was said to be capable of carrying two indigenous YJ-91 anti-radiation missile and electronic warfare suite to attack enemy radar stations.

J-8IIM (2006)
At Zhuhai Air Show 2006, a new variant "J-8IIM" was put on display with upgraded systems similar to the J-8H. The most significant improvement is the radar upgrade with a new Type 1471 domestic radar used by the J-8H. In comparison to F-8IIM's Russian Zhuk-8II radar, the Type 1471 radar has a number of performance enhancements:
  • Type 1471 radar has 75 km maximum range for targets with 3 square meters RCS, in comparison to Zhuk-8II's 70 km maximum range against target of 5 square meters RCS.
  • Additional ability to handle sea-borne targets that Zhuk-8II does not have. For sea targets with 50 square meters RCS, the max range is greater than 100/80 km for sea state 1/2.
  • Simultaneously tracking 10 targets and display 8 most threatening ones out of the 10 on displays, engaging 2 out the 8.
  • Air-to-Air modes: VS (Velocity Search), RWS (Recon./Search while Scan), TWS (Track While Scan), STT (Single Target Tracking), Air Combat Mode (ACM). AMTI, (aerial moving target indication
    Moving target indication
    Moving target indication is a mode of operation of a radar to discriminate a target against clutter. In contrast to another mode, stationary target indication, it takes an advantage of the fact that the target moves with respect to stationary clutter. The most common approach takes advantage of...

    ) mode which is used to discover hovering helicopters can be added upon customer request, though this does not come as standard feature.
  • Air-to-Ground modes: Mapping (Real Beam Mapping RBM), Mapping Expansion/Freezing (EXP/FRZ), Doppler Beam Sharpening (DBS), Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI), Sea Single Target Tracking (SSTT), Air-to-Ground Ranging (AGR).
  • An improved beacon navigation (BCN) and weather (WX) capability.

A reconnaissance version of the J-8F with internal camera in the forward fuselage replacing the cannon.

Upgraded J-8 with JL-10A
The JL-10A airborne radar is a highly digitized pulse-Doppler radar with slotted planar array developed for the People's Liberation Army Air Force as a replacement for the older Type 232H radar currently employed by the Chinese air force. The radar is built to MIL-STD-1553 standard so it is...

 X-band radar. Export variant, F-8T, has WP-13B-II engines.


  • People's Liberation Army Air Force
    People's Liberation Army Air Force
    The People's Liberation Army Air Force is the aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army, the military of the People's Republic of China...

    : 24 J-8, 60 J-8A, 108 J-8B, 36 J-8D, 12 J-8E, 24 J-8F, 48 J-8H, 24 JZ-8, 24 JZ-8F in service in 2010
  • People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force: 48 J-8I/J-8F/J-8B/J-8D in service in 2010

Specifications (J-8II/J-8B)

Specifications (F-8 IIM)


6 under wing hard points for fuel, bombs, rockets or missiles: 4 PL-2 or PL-7 and one 800 lt. drop tank, 2 PL-2 or PL-7 and 2 x 480 lt. drop tanks and one 800 lt. drop tank

See also

External links

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