November 13, 2006:
Some Chinese JH-7 naval bombers have been spotted sporting an interesting modification; folding wings. This sort of thing is only done for large aircraft you want to operate from an aircraft carrier. The JH-7 is a 27 ton, twin engine aircraft, with a 40 foot wingspan. The JH7 entered service a decade ago, and about fifty of them are available. Mass production is delayed because the aircraft was designed to use a British engine. China thought it could reverse-engineer this engine, but was unable to do so. Now China is trying to get a proper production license from the British engine manufacturer, so that it can build more JH-7s. Using some of these aircraft for developing folding wing technology seems a worthwhile approach, as the aircraft may have to be abandoned if the engine production license cannot be obtained.