This is a discussion on Do China's third generation fighters have much combat value? within the Air Force forums, part of the China Defense & Military category; A large bulk of China's current airforce are J-7, J-8, Q-5, JH-7 e.t.c. Also I've been thinking perhaps India's airforce ...
A large bulk of China's current airforce are J-7, J-8, Q-5, JH-7 e.t.c.
Also I've been thinking perhaps India's airforce will possibily become stronger than China's. In numbers China has a larger airforce but it seems to have a lot of significantly older aircraft compared to India's.
India also has plenty of fresh Russian/European aircraft ordered like the Rafale, the PAK-FA and still close to another 100 Su-30 on the way.
Last edited by legoboy; 07-17-2012 at 12:25 PM.
J-7, JH-7 and J-8 still form the backbone of PLAAF, but these are there to serve as cost effective alternatives. They will be eventually replaced. Indian Airforce is too small compared to that of PLAAF. As far as Rafale import to India, in the eyes of PLAAF, it's like PLAAF fielding J-10 in the eyes of USAF, they're only as good as current jets and the new jet is almost in service (J-20, F-22).
As of current stage, 3rd generation jets are more than adequate enough to perform most tasks. 5th generation jets like J-20, F22, and PAK-FA are too expensive to produce and operate for simple tasks, they're not cost effective enough. Unless it's a big war between those superpowers, 5th generation are no more useful than 3/4th generation jets in day-to-day tasks.
In addition, don't count the third gen fighters out. The J-7s are still good at WVR combat with its guns and IR missiles and will try to avoid BVR combat if possible. The same with the J-8s which will try to avoid WVR combat but are still formidable in BVR if they're equiped with the latest BVR missiles and fire control radars. The JH-7As are usefull in that they still have the payload/range for launching standoff weapons including antiship missiles.
China's airforce has over 400 Flankers (more than russia), 200+ J-10, 200+ J-8 with BVR capability and 200 JH7 series fighter bombers.
Not to mention that China has the superior logistics and combat support/force multiplicator assets compered to India, which will raise China's airforce's combat value not insignificantly. Beidou, Yaogan, Haiyang satellites, AWACS, and own, more or less independent production lines for spare parts are all contributing to the effectiveness of the PLAAF and increasingly the PLANAF.
I feel OP is just trying to start a flame war. He could of just asked if China's third gen. jets are useless or not but instead he mentions India.
Even though India agreed to buy Rafael fighters does not mean then magically appear and become fully operation as of this day. It will take a lot of time as building, training, deploying, etc goes before they become combat ready. By that time, China is going to be fielding 5th gen fighters. This is a major drawback to buying foreign fighters.
Well, China v India threads are specifically not allowed, so lets not even go there if we want this thread to remain open.
Although the OP did not phrase his question in the most diplomatic or sensible manner, I feel there is still some value in discussing the operational combat value of the PLAAF's J7 and J8 fleets.
The J7E with the new canopy, double delta wings and PL8s are actually very respectable WVR dogfighters. When the PAF first got them, they were suitably impressed with their handling characteristics, some of which were actually a match for the F16.
In addition to it's enhanced handling, the J7 also has a very significant advantage of being very small and hard to spot visually. During the recent Thracian Star exercises, USAF F16s reported difficulties when mock fighting Bulgarian Mig21BIS's because they were very hard to detect visually. A Mig21 driver Maj Georgy Belev who did an interview with AFM flew 5 TI (tactical intercept) missions and had weapons shots on 3 of them.
As the Indian Bisons demonstrated during Red Flag, the Mig21's small visual signature could also be translated into a small radar signature with good jamming support. Indeed, one of the most valuable insights the USAF got from that exchange was just how effective modern jamming pods are in terms of shielding fighters from detection.
The PLAAF does not operate similar jamming pods with their J7s, however, they do operate many dedicated jamming platforms, both in terms of the their High New series as well as JH7As with Growler like jamming pods. Those assets could theoretically provide a jamming umbrella to cover a large number of J7s to allow them to reach WVR with minimal or no losses to enemy BVR shots.
Even without active jamming support, the J7 could still play a significant role.
For J7s the best approach would be to stay low and try to use terrain to mask their approach as much as possible. OTOH, for China's BVR capable fleets, they would want to go high and fast to get the most of their BVRAAMs. Even the best modern fighter radars have limits in terms of field of view and dealing with ground clutter. Those issues would be further exacerbated by the kind of highly focused scanning needed for BVR combat.
It would take a lot of training and skill to pull off, but it is entirely possible to use the PLAAF's BVR capable fleets in concert with the J7s. You have the likes of the J8s, J10s and J11s engaging enemy fighters at BVR, which allows the J7s to close undetected or with minimal attention. After the enemy fleet has been softened up by BVRAAMs, the J7s would pull in amongst them while the PLAAFs BVR fleet either pulls off and leave the J7s to it, piles in to tip the balance, or just hang around in cruise mode to save fuel and then go pick off enemy fighters are they try to disengage when they are out of munitions and/or running on bingo fuel - i.e., when they are easy pickings.
The PLAAF's J8 fleets are kinda like the poor man's Mig31. They have turbojets which are inefficient at normal high subsonic cruise speeds favoured by modern fighters, but they are actually more fuel efficient when going supersonic, which is the flight envelope the J8 is optimised for.
The J8 actually has respectable speed and operating ceilings. Couple that with a modern PD radar and PL12s BVRAAMs and it actually is as good a BVR fighter as J10s and J11s. The J8 handles like a DC9 in WVR, but if properly supported, it shouldn't get that close to the enemy. It is no accident that the J7 and J8 are perfect natural partners that cover each other's weaknesses very well.
In peace time, the J8 makes for a good high speed interceptor to help cover China's vast territory without needing a silly number of fighters and air bases, and are also good first responders because they can travel for extended periods at high supersonic speeds (people are often surprised by just how big J8s are, the are as long as Flankers and carries more fuel than you might expect).
During war, they are very good BVRAAM firing platforms.
One on one, a J7 or J8 are easy pickings for any 4th gen fighter. However, when operating in realistic combat conditions, both could be used to great effect against even 4th gen opponents if given the right kind of support by other friendly assets and fighters. They are hardly ideal, but are anything but useless.
J7 with double delta wings and helmet mounted sight can be quite nasty in a dogfight. However, that's its one trick. Maybe also useful for shooting down UAVs.
J-7 is still good cost effective way for point defence, like loitering over own airfield and other important installations to intercept incoming targets like stand-off weapons (laser or gps guilded bombs), uavs and cruise missiles, which though will need effective radar tracking to shoot them down. In WW2 Meteor jets were used to down German V-2 flying bombs, so there is a precedence.
Today's air strikes rarely go for simple iron bombs and air to ground rockets attacks unless the opponent's air defence is totally annihilated, so I would not think any dog fights around the vicinity of air field or other installation. Therefore you may not meet opponent's strike jets close to your installation.
Short leg J-7 on CAP at its maximum range is unlikely since J-10 and J-11 are better suited for this role, thus jet vs jet firefight could be rare, unless the opponent jet decided to venture close to J-7 with intention to angage it.
That said, it is still possible for J-7 engage in dogfights or BVR engagement. J-7 is agile and good at dogfight, though its small less powerful radar will put it at disadvantage at BVR unless there is assistence from ground radar or AEWC.
Last edited by lcloo; 07-17-2012 at 10:05 PM.
As for fighters, the J-7 & J-8 left are J-7E/G & J-8H/F (or 'D' upgraded to H or F standard). Rest of them are J-10/10A, J-11B, Su-27SK/J-11/J-11A, Su-30MKK (this is excluding the PLAN-AF). Just ask 'franco-russe' or 'deino' for the numbers. There are other programs in additions to the 5th gen J-20.
Last edited by Hyperwarp; 07-18-2012 at 12:01 AM.
At the moment, China is the in the midst of building a modern, lethal and organized military force. This includes induction of J-10s, J-11s, J-20s, F-60s, JH-7s, L-15s and other force-multiplier aircraft. By 2022, China's military would have vastly out classed the indian military. Suffice to say, the indian military's procurement process has had a dismal record.
Last edited by Dizasta1; 07-18-2012 at 03:25 AM.
J-7, J-8II and Q-5 are relics, hopelessly outclassed and outgunned by assets found in its potential enemies, which is why the J-10, J-11 are stepping in, and in the short future WZ-10 take up the role of Q-5 (roles that Q-5 performs now are either taken up by multi-role jets or attack helicopters). PLAAF keeping them around is because they as an organization is also in the midst of major transition, unfortunately the number of J-10 and J-11 are dictated by how many engines they can buy from Russia.
That said, the only advantage - at least in Chinese perspective - is that they're "all MIC", the sourcing problem at least not as acute...in the case of JH-7, they try to make it as the cheaper alternative of the Su-30MKK, capable on some roles but inferior nonetheless.
India? Their logistics is nightmarish enough already - if and when a fight stretches, it'll boil down to how they keep up with the attrition whether it's lost in combat or wear-and-tear.