Fighter makes debut at air show
Top-secret jet stars in display of gear aimed at overseas arms buyers
The mainland's top-secret J-10 fighter plane made its much-awaited public debut yesterday in a six- minute aerial display that is set to be the highlight of this year's Air Show China in Zhuhai .
The multi-role fighter is just one of the numerous mainland-developed aircraft and missiles on display at the military show, on until Sunday.
Overseas media reports have compared the J-10 to the US-built F-16, and the plane is said to represent the pinnacle of Chinese aviation technology. Public displays of the J-10 have been postponed several times, but at 10am yesterday it took off with ace fighter pilot Yan Feng at the controls.
He put the jet through its paces in a series of aerial displays that included climbing rolls and manoeuvres just metres above the ground.
'Fabulous! I can finally see the J-10,' a Hongkonger said as she held up a mobile phone to share the moment with friends in the city.
But not everyone was impressed with the J-10's debut.
Wang Shuyun, a retired Shenyang military region official, said it was impossible to gauge the fighter's real military capacity from a six- minute performance.
'I'm a huge fan of the J-10 and was so happy to see the fighter showing off its power,' Ms Wang said. 'But I'm a little disappointed this time because we can't have a close look.
'There were few surprises. Its fighting capacity is still secret to us, like its airborne weapons and radar system. But I also understand, because it's a top secret for our military system.'
This year's Zhuhai air show is the biggest so far and promises aerial displays by more than a dozen high-end aircraft, including the L-15 advanced trainer and the Xinzhou-600 passenger plane. For the first time at an air show, the Chinese-built H-6U tanker aircraft will conduct in-flight refuelling with a J-8 fighter today.
Besides aircraft, air-defence, coastal-defence and surface-to- surface missiles will be on show to demonstrate the country's military technology, including the new SY-400 guided missile and the FL-3000 anti-ship missile.
Apart from giving the public a glimpse of the mainland's military advances, the air show has become a stage for hi-tech arms sales.
A Pakistan Air Force official said his country was satisfied with the J-10 and would buy 14 of the jets next year.
'Pakistan has five decades of good co-operation with China in the military field,' he said.
'We jointly developed the FC-1 Thunder fighter, which was used in Pakistan. And we will keep co-operating. The market and future will be very bright.'
Last year the chief of staff of the Pakistan Air Force said the country was finalising a deal with China eventually to buy up to 40 J-10 fighters.