The PLA Air Force (PLAAF) will send its indigenous Chengdu J-10B multirole fighters to take part in the ‘Aviadarts’ competition between July 30 and August 9, the Chinese Ministry of National Defence (MND) has confirmed.
The ‘Aviadarts’ competition is an annual tactical aviation training and contest event involving the Russian Aerospace Forces as well as air forces of its close allies including China and some CIS countries including Belarus and Kazakhstan. The event is part of the 3rd International Army Games, which includes a wide range of air, sea, and land contest events to improve training and exchange experience between partner armed forces.
The ‘Aviadarts’ competition has been traditionally hosted in Russia but for this year the event is taking place in Changchun, Jilin Province in northeast China—the first it is held on a foreign soil.
The Chengdu J-10B is an improved variant of the single-engine J-10 fighter, which was first introduced in the late 1990s as China’s first indigenous 4th-generation fighter. The original mission was air superiority, but the changing requirements shifted development towards a multirole fighter to replace the large numbers of J-6 and J-7 fighters in service with the PLAAF at the time.
The J-10B first flew in December 2008 and entered service with the PLAAF around 2014. It made the first public debut during the 2016 Zhuhai Air Show. The most distinctive modification on the J-10B is its chin-mounted diffuser supersonic inlet (DSI), which employs a one-piece bump at the top of the inlet replacing the movable ramp on the original J-10. This eliminates all moving parts on the inlet, lightening the overall weight and reducing the aircraft’s radar signature.
The J-10B has also been added with an electronic-optic targeting system (EOTS). Placed forward of the cockpit canopy to the right, the system comprises an infrared search and track (IRST) sensor and a laser rangefinder, which can detect enemy targets passively without requiring to turn on the fire-control radar, thus reducing the chance of the aircraft being detected. Like its predecessor, the aircraft is powered by a single Russian Saturn AL-31FN engine.
The aircraft has also been upgraded with an improved suite of avionics, including an indigenous passive electronically scanned array (PESA) fire-control radar, capable of engaging 4 targets simultaneously. The upper edge of the aircraft’s tailfin is curved, in contrast to the straight-edged tailfin of the J-10. A large fairing is added to the tip of the tailfin to accommodate electronic warfare and countermeasures (EW/ECM) equipment. There are also four black electronic countermeasures (ECM) antenna arrays attached externally to the fuselage.
The J-10B can carry a wide range of air-to-air and ground strike weapons, including the latest PL-10 IR-homing SRAAM, PL-15 active radar-homing LRAAM, and laser-guided bombs. As well as serving with the PLAAF, the aircraft is also available to the international market.
This year’s ‘Aviadarts’ competition will be the first time the J-10B is placed in direct competition with Russia’s 4th-generation fighters such as the Su-30MS and Su-35S.