J-10 vaults Chinese aviation into 'top rank'
He Huifeng and Minnie Chan
The J-10 multi-role fighter involves a significant amount of new military technology and puts the Chinese aviation industry on par with the best in the world, its developer says.
Wang Guangya, chairman of the Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group, the J-10's main developer, said that although it had not been tested in combat, it was good enough to rival any western fourth-generation fighter, such as the US F-16 Fighting Falcon or Russia's Mikoyan MiG-29.
'We have been putting the J-10 through practice drills for years. Now we can finally show the J-10 to the public because we are very confident of its fighting capacity,' Mr Wang said.
'Through developing the J-10, China has greatly advanced its aviation industry and made us professional, world-class experts in new fighter design and development.'
He insisted the fighter's development was an attempt to strengthen China's defences and not to threaten any other country or region.
Pakistan has expressed strong interest in buying the J-10.
Mr Wang said that if Beijing approved, the company would try to sell the J-10 to other countries.
With the world market needing at least 1,200 fourth-generation fighter jets like the J-10 in the next few decades, one military commentator said China was hoping to attract buyers at Air Show China.
Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canada-based Kanwa Asian Defence Monthly, said: 'The J-10's appearance in the air show was expected because it had been China's selling point to third-world countries, especially oil exporters.
'But China knows that the J-10 faces great competition from other aircraft like the US's F-15 and Sweden's JAS-39C.'
Mr Chang said the J-10 featured in the air show was probably still powered by an AL-31F turbojet engine imported from Russia, and not a made-in-China WS-10 engine, because it was a more stable and mature technology.
Chengdu Aircraft is also reportedly working on a J-13 stealth fighter based on the J-10.