Chengdu J-10

The Chengdu J-10 (simplified Chinese: 歼-10; traditional Chinese: 殲-10, Known in the West as the "Vigorous Dragon", or by the NATO Reporting Name Firebird) is a lightweight multirole fighter aircraft capable of all-weather operation, configured with a delta wing and canard design, with fly-by-wire flight controls, and produced by the People's Republic of China's Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) for the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The Pakistan Air Force is the only export customer for the J-10.

Chengdu J-10
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group
Origin China
Country Name Origin Year
China 1998
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
China 2005 View
Laos View
Pakistan 2007 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group 2002 264 View

The program was authorized by Deng Xiaoping who allocated ¥ 0.5 billion to develop an indigenous aircraft. Work on Project #10 started several years later in January 1988, as a response to the Mikoyan MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-27 then being introduced by the USSR. Development was delegated to the 611 Institute, also known as the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute and Song Wencong was nominated as the chief designer, as he had previously been the chief designer of the J-7III. The aircraft was initially designed as a specialized fighter, but later became a multirole aircraft capable of both air-to-air combat and ground attack missions. The J-10 bears some resemblance to the IAI Lavi and some news and technical articles have claimed that some of the Lavi's technology had been sold to China by the Israelis, these claims have been denied by both China and Israel. The general designer Song Wencong said that J-10 was a development of the indigenous J-9 which preceded the Lavi. This was echoed by a PLAAF's major Zhang Weigang in a 2012 interview.  2006, the Russian Siberian Aeronautical Research Institute (SibNIA) confirmed its participation in the J-10 program; SibNIA claimed to have only observed and instructed as "scientific guides", while its engineers also believed the J-10 was "more or less a version" of the Lavi design, incorporating "a melting pot of foreign technology and acquired design methods".  J-10 was officially unveiled by the Chinese government in January 2007, when photographs were published by Xinhua News Agency. The aircraft's existence was known long before the announcement, although concrete details remained scarce due to secrecy. A J-10 prototype was speculated to have crashed during flight testing. Xinhua News Agency and the PLA Daily denied such rumors, and listed this as one of the test pilots' accomplishments. The prototype "J-10 01" was rolled out in November 1997 and first flown on 23 March 1998 in a twenty-minute flight. AVIC plans to market an upgraded J-10 for export, most likely the J-10B, once development is complete. Several countries have shown interest. In 2015, China Military Online published an analysis advocating Argentina's adoption of the J-10, claiming that while the operational range of current versions could not yet allow it to reach the Falkland Islands, the aircraft, particularly its radar, were superior to the Typhoon and that tanker aircraft could place the islands within range. China has been promoting the J-10 to the Argentine republic and during a February 2015 visit to China by President Kirchner established a joint fighter aircraft working group.


The first aircraft were delivered to the 13th Test Regiment on 23 February 2003. The aircraft was declared 'operational' in December of the same year, after 18 years in development. The first operational regiment was the 131st Regiment of the 44th Division.


In February 2006, the then President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, toured the J-10 and JF-17 production facilities on a trip to China during which the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was offered the J-10, and the purchase of 36 FC-20s, a Pakistan-specific J-10B variant, was approved in April 2006. In November 2009, Pakistan signed a deal with China to buy 36 J-10B fighters in a deal worth around $1.4 billion. Deliveries to Pakistan were expected to begin from 2014–15 and the aircraft was to be designated as FC-20 in Pakistan. In July 2011, Daily Jang reported that China will give a squadron of the advanced J-10B fighter aircraft to Pakistan. According to the report,"the offer was made by senior Chinese military leaders to visiting Pakistan Army's Chief of General Staff, Lt Gen Waheed Arshad". In March 2012, talks were held between the two countries to discuss the delivery of latest J-10B fighter jets to Pakistan.

Role Multirole combat aircraft
National origin China
Manufacturer Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group
Designer Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute
First flight 23 March 1998
Introduction 2005
Status In service
Primary user People's Liberation Army Air Force
Produced 2002 – present
Number built 264+ As of February 2014
Program cost 500 million RMB allocated in 1982 (Project #10)
Unit cost 190 million RMB (27.84 millionUSD; 2010)
Developed from Chengdu J-9

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 15.49 m (50.82 ft)
  • Wingspan: 9.75 m (31.99 ft)
  • Height: 5.43 m (17.81 ft)
  • Wing area: 39 m² (356.3 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 9,750 kg (21,495 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 12,400 kg (28,600 lb)
  • Useful load: 6,000 kg (13,200lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 19,277 kg (42,500 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Saturn-Lyulka AL-31FN or WS-10A turbofan
  • Dry thrust: 79.43 kN / 89.17 kN (17,860 lbf / 19,000 lbf)
  • Thrust with afterburner: 125 kN / 130 kN (27,999 lbf / 29,000 lbf)


  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.2 at altitude, Mach 1.2 at sea level
  • Combat radius: 550 km (342 mi)
  • Ferry range: 1,850 km (1,150 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 18,000 m (59,055 ft)
  • Wing loading: 381 kg/m² (78 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 1.15 (with AL-31FN3); 1.16 (with WS-10B)
  • Maximum g-load: +9/–3 g


  • Guns: 1× Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23
  • Hardpoints: 11 in total (6× under-wing, 5× under-fuselage) with a capacity of 7,000 kg (15,400 lb) external fuel and ordnance[42]
  • Rockets: 90 mm unguided rocket pods
  • Missiles:
    Air-to-air missiles:
    Air-to-surface missiles:
  • Bombs:
    laser-guided bombs: (LT-2)
    glide bombs: (LS-6, GB3, GB2A, GB3A)
    satellite-guided bombs: (FT-1)
    unguided bombs: 250 kg, 500 kg
  • Others:
    Up to 3 external fuel drop-tanks (1× under-fuselage, 2× under-wing) for extended range and loitering time


  • Type 1473H pulse-doppler fire control radar
  • Externally mounted avionics pods:
  • Type Hongguang-I infra-red search and track pod
  • BM/KG300G self-protection jamming pod
  • KZ900 electronic reconnaissance pod
  • Blue Sky navigation/attack pod
  • FILAT (Forward-looking Infra-red Laser Attack Targeting) pod

End notes