J-7/Mig-21 Fighter - PLAAF
The J-7 is a single-engine, lightweight fighter aircraft designed and manufactured by Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China. Its design is based on its predecessor, the MiG-21 aircraft. The export version of J-7 has been designated the F-7.
The J-7 / F-7 has been built principally to meet the requirements of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), and more than 2,400 J-7s are currently operational worldwide.
In an effort to meet the operational requirements of the defence forces, the CAC has developed 54 variants of the J-7.
Two types of J-7 variants have been built by the company, including a domestic Chinese variant and an export variant. About 28 domestic variants and 26 export variants are in operation worldwide.
Orders and deliveries
In August 2005, the Namibian Air Force ordered 12 F-7NM aircraft. And the Nigerian Air Force acquired 12 F-7NI fighters and three FT-7NI trainers from CAC in 2008; the first batch of aircraft was delivered in December 2009.
The Bangladeshi Air Force purchased 16 F-7MB, 16 F-7BG and eight FT-7B aircraft. These F-7MB aircraft will be replaced with 100 beyond visual range-capable F-7BGs by 2010.
"The export version of J-7 fighter aircraft has been designated the F-7."
The Pakistani Air Force (PAF) procured 120 F-7P and 60 F-7PG, while between 600 and 720 J-7s have been acquired by PLAAF. The Sri Lankan Air Force has purchased 13 F-7BS and F-7G aircraft.
Further F-7 orders include those from the Sudanese Air Force (22), Egyptian Air Force (90), Tanzanian Air Force (16), Yemen Air Force (18), Air Force of Zimbabwe (24), Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (24), Myanmar Air Force (64) and the North Korean Air Force (40).
Ground attack missions
The J-7 has been designed to perform ground attack missions in all weather conditions. It can climb to higher altitudes with its delta wings at transonic and supersonic speeds. The aircraft also features a small-sized airframe fitted with a powerful engine.It is suitable only for point air defence due to its short-range attacking capability.
Russia signed an agreement with China in March 1961 to transfer the MiG-21 technology. The aircraft, along with assembly kits and technical documents were sent to Shenyang Aircraft Factory in August 1962.
The delivery of technical documents to Shenyang Aircraft Factory was, however, not carried out due to deteriorating relations between Beijing and Moscow. This allowed the company to develop its own version of the MiG-21 through a reverse engineering process. The Chinese-made MiG-21 was developed in March 1964 and initially known as Type 62. It was later redesignated the J-7 (Jian-7).
The airframe of the J-7 was tested in November 1965 and the aircraft completed its maiden flight in January 1966. The J-7 was certified as an operational aircraft by the Chinese Military in June 1967. J-7s were produced at the rate of 14 aircraft per month during 1989. Despite the termination of production in 2008, the J-7 is currently in operation with a number of air forces worldwide.
The aircraft is equipped with an efficient avionics system which includes a GEC-Marconi Avionics HUDWAC (head-up display and weapon aiming computer) plus GARMIN global positioning and bombing navigation systems. It is also equipped with a Super Skyranger radar, an FIAR Grifo-7 mkII radar (export) and a Type 226 PD radar.
The J-7/F-7 is armed with two 30mm cannons, which can fire munitions at the rate of 60 rounds a minute. The aircraft has five hardpoints, four of which are located under the two wings and one beneath the centreline fuselage section. It can carry a payload of up to 2,000kg. The J-7 is fitted with PL-2, PL-5, PL-7, PL-8, PL-9, Magic R.550 and AIM-9 air-to-air missiles (AAM), unguided bombs weighing 50kg to 500kg, a 55mm rocket pod and a 90mm rocket pod.
Single turbojet engine
Powered by a single Liyang Wopen-13F/WP-7 turbojet engine the J-7's engine produces 44.1kN of dry thrust, while its afterburner thrust is 65.17kN. The developer of the WP-7 turbojet engine is Shenyang Aero Engine Factory.
The J-7 can climb at the rate of 155m/s, while the maximum and cruise speeds of the aircraft are 2,120km/h and 1,200km/h respectively. Its combat range is 850km. The ferry range of the J-7 is 2,000km and the aircraft can fly to a maximum altitude of 17,800m.
The take-off and landing distances of the aircraft are 800m and 750m respectively. The aircraft weighs around 5,292kg and its maximum take-off weight is 9,100kg.
Most actions carried out by the F-7 have been air-to-ground missions. In air-to-air missions, there have rarely been any encounters resulting in dogfights.
Chinese sources reported the delivery of FT-7NGs in November 2006. Namibian AF ordered 12 Chengdu F-7NMs in August 2005 . This is believed to be a variation of the F-PG acquired by Pakistan.
In early 2008, Nigeria procured 12 F-7NI fighters and three FT-7NI trainers to replace her existing stock of MiG-21 aircraft. The first batch of F-7s arrived in December 2009.
Sudanese F-7Bs were used in the Sudanese Civil War against ground targets.
Tanzanian Air Force F-7As served in the Uganda-Tanzania War against Uganda and Libya in 1979. Its appearance effectively brought a halt to bombing raids by Libyan Tupolev Tu-22s.
During Zimbabwe's involvement in the DRC, six or seven F-7s were deployed to the Lubumbashi IAP and then to a similar installation near Mbuji-Mayi. From there, AFZ F-7s flew dozens of combat air patrols in the following months, attempting in vain to intercept transport aircraft used to bring supplies and troops from Rwanda and Burundi to the Congo. In late October 1998, F-7s of the No.5 Squadron were used in an offensive in east-central Congo. This began with a series of air strikes that first targeted airfields in Gbadolite, Dongo and Gmena, and then rebel and Rwandan communications and depots in the Kisangani area on November 21.
The stationing of F-7As near the border successfully checked Yugoslav incursions into Albanian airspace.
In the mid 1990s, the PLAAF began replacing its J-7Bs with the substantially-redesigned J-7E variant. The wings of the J-7E have been changed to a unique "double delta" design offering improved aerodynamics and increased fuel capacity, and the J-7E also features a more powerful engine and improved avionics. The newest version of the J-7, the J-7G, entered service with the PLAAF in 2003.
The role of the J-7 in the People's Liberation Army is to provide local air defence and tactical air superiority. Large numbers are to be employed to deter enemy air operations.
F-7Ms were planned to use for interception. But, they are now out of service and stored as reserve aircraft as new superior fighters arrived.
Relations between Egypt and Libya deteriorated after Egypt signed a peace accord with Israel. Egyptian Air Force MiG-21s shot down Libyan MiG-23s, and F-7Bs were deployed to the Egyptian-Libyan border along with MiG-21s to fend off possible further Libyan MiG-23 incursions into Egyptian airspace.
Although not in any known combat actions, it was in several movies portraying Iraqi MiG-21s during the Iran–Iraq War. One tells the story of an Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force strike on the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak on September 30, 1980. Another "Attack on H3" tells the story of the 810 km-deep raids into the Iraqi heartland against Iraqi Air Force airfields on April 4, 1981, and other movies depicting the air combat in 1981 that resulted in the downing of around 70 Iraqi aircraft. However, unconfirmed reports claimed that during the later stages of the war, these aircraft were used for air-to-ground attacks. On July 24, 2007 an Iranian F-7 crashed in northern eastern Iran. The plane crashed due to technical difficulties.
F-7Bs paid for by Egypt arrived too late for the aerial combat in the early part of the Iran–Iraq War, but later participated mainly in air-to-ground sorties.
The Bangladeshi Air Force, one of the largest operator of F-7, currently operates F-7MB Airguards, F-7MG and BVR capable F-7BG/Gs interceptors. The F-7MBs will be replaced by 100 or so BVR capable F-7BG fighters by 2010. BAF has also upgraded all of its F-7MBs and F-7BGs to fire Chinese built LS-6 and LT-2 ground attack munitions, giving them a potent strike capability.
Pakistan is currently the largest non-Chinese F-7 operator, with ~120 F-7P and ~60 F-7PG. The Pakistan Air Force is to replace its entire fleet of F-7 with the JF-17 light-weight fighter, all F-7P are planned to be retired and replaced with JF-17 by 2015.
Sri Lanka Air Force currently uses three F-7BS and for ground attack missions against the LTTE and three FT-7 trainer. Due to the lack of endurance and payload, SLAF some times uses their F-7s for pilot training purposes.
Early 2008 the air force received six more advanced F-7Gs, these will be primarily used as interceptors. All The F-7G's, F-7BS's and FT-7s are flown by the No 5 Jet Squadron.
Sri Lankan officials reported that on 9 September 2008, three Sri Lankan Air Force F-7s were scrambled after two rebel flown Zlín-143 were detected by ground radar, two were sent to bomb two rebel airstrips at Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi areas, the government claims the third intercepting one ZLin-143 resulting in one LTTE Zlín-143 shot down by the chasing F-7G using air to air missiles while the rebel flown light aircraft was returning to its base at Mullaitivu after a bombing run against Vavuniya base There is no public evidence for shooting down LTTE flight.
May 2012, a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Chenghu F7-Ni single-seat fighter jet, on a routine training exercise, crashed Tuesday afternoon close to the Kaduna International Airport, sources close to NAF told PANA here. A statement by the NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas, said that there were, however, no casualty as “the pilot on board the aircraft ejected successfully”. Anas said that immediately the incident happened, a Search and Rescue Team, from the Nigerian Air Force 301 Flying Training School, Kaduna, rescued the pilot who is in a stable condition after receiving treatment at the Nigerian Air Force Aero Medical Hospital, Kaduna.
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