Chengdu J-7

The Chengdu J-7 (Chinese: 歼-7; export versions F-7; NATO Code: Fishbed) is a People's Republic of China license-built version of the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21. Though production ceased in 2013, it continues to serve, mostly as an interceptor, in several air forces, including the People's Liberation Army Air Force.

Chengdu J-7
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group
Production Period 1965 - 2013
Origin China
Country Name Origin Year
China 1966
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Albania View
Bangladesh View
Burma View
Ceylon (Sri Lanka) View
China 1966 View
Egypt View
Iran (Persia) View
Iraq View
Namibia View
Nigeria View
North Korea View
Pakistan View
Sudan View
Tanzania View
United States of America View
Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) View
Mozambique View
Myanmar View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group 1965 2013 2400 View

In the 1950s and early 1960s, the Soviet Union shared most of its conventional weapons technology with the People's Republic of China. The famous MiG-21, powered by a single engine and designed on a simple airframe, were inexpensive but fast, suiting the strategy of forming large groups of 'people's fighters' to overcome the technological advantages of Western aircraft. However, the Sino-Soviet split abruptly ended the initial cooperation, and from July 28 to September 1, 1960, the Soviet Union withdrew its advisers from China, resulting in the project being stopped in China.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev unexpectedly wrote to Mao Zedong in February, 1962, to inform Mao that the Soviet Union was willing to transfer MiG-21 technology to China, and he asked the Chinese to send their representatives to the Soviet Union as soon as possible to discuss the details. The Chinese viewed this offer as a Soviet gesture to make peace, and they were understandably suspicious, but they were nonetheless eager to take up the Soviet offer for an aircraft deal. A delegation headed by General Liu Yalou, the commander-in-chief of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and himself a Soviet military academy graduate, was dispatched to Moscow immediately, and the Chinese delegation was given three days to visit the production facility of the MiG-21, which was previously off-limits to foreigners. The authorization for this visit was personally given by Nikita Khrushchev, and on March 30, 1962, the technology transfer deal was signed. However, given the political situation and the relationship between the two countries, the Chinese were not optimistic about gaining the technology, and thus they were prepared for reverse engineering.

Most actions carried out by the F-7 export model have been air-to-ground missions. In air-to-air missions, there have rarely been any encounters resulting in dogfights.



Namibian AF ordered 12 Chengdu F-7NMs in August 2005. Chinese sources reported the delivery in November 2006. This is believed to be a variation of the F-7PG acquired by Pakistan with Grifo MG radar.


In early 2008, Nigeria procured 12 F-7NI fighters and three FT-7NI trainers to replace the 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 in north of the country, near the border successfully checked Yugoslav incursions into Albanian airspace.

East and South-East Asia


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. However, they are now out of service and stored as reserve aircraft as new superior fighters arrived.

Middle East


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.

South Asia


The Bangladeshi Air Force, currently operates F-7MB Airguards, and F-7BG/Gs interceptors. The F-7MB/A-5Cs will be replaced by 16 F-7BGI fighters by 2014. BAF has also upgraded all of its 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 multirole fighter, all F-7P are planned to be retired and replaced with JF-17 Thunder aircraft by 2015.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Air Force used 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.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 14.885 m (Overall) (48 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan: 8.32 m (27 ft 3½ in)
  • Height: 4.11 m (13 ft 5½ in)
  • Wing area: 24.88 m² (267.8 ft²)
  • Aspect ratio: 2.8:1
  • Empty weight: 5,292 kg (11,667 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 7,540 kg (16,620 lb) (two PL-2 or PL-7 air-to-air missiles)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 9,100 kg (20,062 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Liyang Wopen-13F afterburning turbojet
  • Dry thrust: 44.1 kN (9,921 lbf)
  • Thrust with afterburner: 64.7 kN (14,550 lbf)


  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.0 (2,200 km/h (1,189 knots, 1,375 mph)) IAS
  • Stall speed: 210 km/h (114 knots, 131 mph) IAS
  • Combat radius: 850 km (459 nmi, 528 mi) (air superiority, two AAMs and three drop tanks)
  • Ferry range: 2,200 km (1,187 nmi, 1,367 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 17,500 m (57,420 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 195 m/s (38,386 ft/min)


  • Guns: 2× 30 mm Type 30-1 cannon, 60 rounds per gun
  • Hardpoints: 5 in total - 4× under-wing, 1× centreline under-fuselage with a capacity of 2,000 kg maximum (up to 500 kg each)
  • Rockets: 55 mm rocket pod (12 rounds), 90 mm rocket pod (7 rounds)
  • Missiles:
    Air-to-air missiles: PL-2, PL-5, PL-7, PL-8, PL-9, K-13, Magic R.550, AIM-9
    Bombs: 50 kg to 500 kg unguided bombs


  • FIAR Grifo-7 mk.II radar

End notes