Italeri ITA48153 Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Air Force Chengdu J-10A Multirole Fighter - 44th FD, 131th Air Regiment, Kunming Wujiba AB (1:100 Scale)
"Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed."
- Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Tse-Tung
The J-10 development program officially began in the mid-1980s, originally intended to be a high-performance air-superiority fighter to counter then emerging third-generation fighters such as F-16 and MiG-29. However, the end of the Cold War and changing requirements shifted the development towards a multirole fighter with both air-to-air and ground attack mission capabilities. This change was partially due to financial reasons, but more importantly it was a reflection of People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)'s transformation from solely the air defence role to a more balanced power with both defensive and offensive capabilities.
The J-10 fighter marks the highest achievement of the Chinese aviation industry in the 20th century. The programme involved a significant amount of new technologies, including composite materials, computerised flight-control ('fly-by-wire'), advanced avionics, computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM), etc. In the J-10 programme, China not only obtained a modern fighter aircraft, but also gained considerable knowledge and experience in designing and developing modern combat aircraft. The programme has also benefited from Israeli and Russian technologies, including the fly-by-wire (FBW) software and AL-31FP turbofan engines.
The J-10 made its first successful flight on March 22nd, 1998. After five years of flight test at the China Flight Test Establishment (CFTE), the aircraft entered service with the PLAAF on March 10th, 2003, when six pre-production variant single-seat J-10s were handed over to the PLAAF Flight Test & Training Base / 13th Test Regiment at the Cangzhou Airbase. Further tests and evaluation of the aircraft were carried out by the PLAAF before it was certified for design finalisation in early 2004. The first operational J-10 fighter unit was activated in the PLAAF 44th Air Division / 132nd Fighter Regiment based at Luliang Airbase in Yuannan Province on July 13th, 2004.
The initial batch of 80~100 examples in both the single-seat variant and two-seater variant ( J-10S) were delivered to the PLAAF between 2004 and 2006. It was estimated that a total of 300 aircraft may be required by the PLAAF and PLA Navy. A number of countries including Pakistan, Iran, and Thailand have also shown strong interest in the aircraft. In March 2007, the Chief of Air Staff of the Pakistani Air Force told the press that the country was finalising a deal with China to purchase up to 32~40 J-10 fighters, with the delivery expected to take place in 2009.
The J-10 program was kept under tight security and high secrecy. The Chinese state media only announced the J-10 in November 2006, nearly two years after it entered service. Despite the huge publicity the J-10 has enjoyed on the Chinese media, no official data has been provided regarding the actual capabilities and performance of the aircraft. Without basic data such as the aircraft's dimension and weight, one can only make estimates based on information available from open sources. The real performance of the aircraft, however, remains a state secret.
Pictured here is a 1:100 scale replica of a Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Air Force Chengdu J-10A Multirole Fighter that was attached to the 44th FD, 131th Air Regiment, deployed to Kunming Wujiba AB
Length: 6 inches
Wingspan: 3-3/4 inches
Release Date: February 2014
Historical Account: "The People's Court" - Although the Chinese Red Army (PLA's predecessor) had operated a few aircraft since the Second Sino-Japanese War, the first organized air arm of the PLA was the Nanyuan Flying Group, formed in the summer of 1949 with about 40 ex-Nationalist aircraft, responsible for the air defence of the soon-to-be capital city of Beijing, China.
The PLAAF itself was founded on November 11th, 1949, shortly after the establishment of the People's Republic of China. At the beginning it relied heavily on Soviet help and was armed with Soviet aircraft. Within 6 years, the PLAAF began manufacturing its own aircraft, but initially these were copies of Soviet types. The first of them was the J-2, corresponding to the MiG-15. Some western observers refer to the upgraded MiG-15bis variant as J-4, but PLAAF never used "J-4" aircraft designation.
Soviet involvement also extended to training combat pilots. Those took part to some degree in the Korean War, where Chinese pilots along with their Russian counterparts often engaged American aircraft in combat. This increased cooperation between the two Communist nations also allowed the Chinese to begin building their own versions of the MiG-17 and MiG-19: the J-5 and J-6.
The 1960s proved to be a difficult period for the PLAAF. This was due to the break in relations with the Soviet Union, and as a consequence the Chinese aircraft industry almost collapsed. The outbreak of the Vietnam War helped it to recover, though, as the PRC government began providing the forces of North Vietnam with J-2s, J-5s, and some J-6s. The 1960s also saw the first indigenous Chinese designs, namely the J-8.
Although the PLAAF received significant support from Western nations in the 1980s when China was seen as a counterweight to Soviet power, this support ended in 1989 as a result of the Chinese crackdown on the Tiananmen protests of 1989 and the later collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Ironically, China's former foe, Russia, became its principal arms supplier to the effect that Chinese economic growth allowed Russia to sustain its aerospace industry.
Between the Vietnam War and the early 1990s, the PLAAF's flying consisted mostly of large numbers of near-obsolete Soviet planes. The main mission scenario under consideration by the PLAAF during this time was to support the PLA in defending China against a massive Soviet tank invasion. Under the doctrine of People's War, Chinese air strategy involved large numbers of short-range low-technology fighters. This mix of forces would not have stood up well to the Republic of China Air Force, which had fewer but much more modern planes such as the F-16 and Mirage 2000.