Secret fighter plane revealed to public

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 November, 2008, 12:00am

The mainland's latest military devices are on display at an air show in Zhuhai

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.

Overseas media reports have compared the J-10 to the US-built F-16. The plane is said to represent the pinnacle of Chinese aviation technology.

Ace fighter pilot Yan Feng 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 took photos with her mobile phone.

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.

Besides aircraft, air-defence, coastal-defence and surface-to- surface missiles will be on show to demonstrate the country's military technology, such as the new SY-400 guided missile and the FL-3000 anti-ship missile.

As well as giving the public a glimpse of the mainland's military advances, the air show is 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.'

This is the edited version of an article by He Huifeng which ran in the South China Morning Post