Murphy's Law: Warplanes For Anyone


September 6, 2007: China is offering two additional aircraft for foreign customers (like Iran, Sudan and anyone else who can pay). One is the JH-7A (a 27 ton, twin engine aircraft, with a 40 foot wingspan). It has been renamed FBC2 for export sales. It is underpowered, and only has a five ton bomb load. But new precision weapons make the most of the FBC2, which is used mainly by the Chinese navy. The aircraft has an operational radius of about 900 kilometers, and can carry four of the new KD88 missiles ( 21 feet long, 360mm diameter, 1,500 pound missile, with a 360 pound warhead, a range of over a hundred kilometers and precision targeting via heat sensing and/or television guidance).

Also available for foreign customers is the J10A. This is also Chinese made, and will be exported as the FC10. It looks something like the American F-16, and weighs about the same (19 tons). Like the F-16, and unlike the Su-27, the J10A has only one engine. Originally, the J10A used a Russian AL-31FN engine, but China has been working for a decade to manufacture their own version of this, the WS10A. The Chinese engine is underpowered and not as reliable as the Russian one it was modeled on. The FC10 has modern electronics, including an AESA radar that can track and attack multiple targets simultaneously.

The FBC2 is not as agile as the FC20, but is considered more reliable because it has two engines. Both aircraft would be sold mainly on price ($20 million per, or even less if there were side deals or diplomatic considerations). The problem is, there are not many customers for Chinese warplanes. Russia has a lock on the low end market. China sells mainly to outlaw states, and most of them are broke (like Burma and North Korea). Sudan has not been pumping oil for long, and not a lot. Sudan would like some cheaper warplanes from China. The Sudanese only really want bombers for use against their own people, so they don't need anything really high tech. It's believed that Sudan is interested in the Chinese-Pakistani joint venture, the JF17. This is another F-16 competitor, that competes mainly on price (presumably for as little as $10 million each). But the JF17 uses a Russian engine and requires Russian permission to export.


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