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Abominable

Captain
Registered Member
An idea I had. The PLAAF has hundreds (thousands?) of J-7s that have either been retired or will be soon.

Why not convert them into drones? Stripping out all pilot support systems, maybe even the canopy. You've got a significant reduction in weight. The balance will be thrown off but I'm sure it can be mitigated.

Arm each with 2 PL-9s and you've got a very cost effective interceptor. With anti-radiation missiles you've got the perfect platform for "suicide" SEAD missions. Any reason why this would be a bad idea?
 

lcloo

Senior Member
An idea I had. The PLAAF has hundreds (thousands?) of J-7s that have either been retired or will be soon.

Why not convert them into drones? Stripping out all pilot support systems, maybe even the canopy. You've got a significant reduction in weight. The balance will be thrown off but I'm sure it can be mitigated.

Arm each with 2 PL-9s and you've got a very cost effective interceptor. With anti-radiation missiles you've got the perfect platform for "suicide" SEAD missions. Any reason why this would be a bad idea?
PLAAF had been toying with this idea for a long time, there were rumour that some J6/J7 had been converted into one-way suicide drone. Some were converted into target drones.

09111700249b80325fdfbe23d1.jpgB9yXf.jpgczoGR.jpg
 

lcloo

Senior Member
Technically, it's quite doable. The question is in opportunity cost: could the resources spent on these conversions be better used elsewhere?
The role of a sucide J6 drone is very simple, a oneway ticket to crash into a SAM site or any military installation, or just let a Taiwanese Patriot missile shot it down.

The J6 drone will not be reusable, not equiped with SATCOM like CH-5 or CH-5, it will much cheaper since the airframe cost has near zero residual value. (the airframe would have value of scrap metal).

If the cost of a J6/J7 drone is cheaper than a Patriot missile then why not? And instead of having the possiblity of a J10/J11/J16/H6 downed by a SAM, one less J6/7 drone in exchange for one less SAM in Taiwan's limited inventory of SAM should be worth the effort.


This is a very recent photo just a few months old. Note the J6 with its cannons removed, I suspect this could be converted drone. As far as I know, all J6 manned fighter jets have been retired many years ago.
1E3D7F5D-E5AF-4F82-AD0B-31F69DAF8483.jpeg
 

Deino

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
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lcloo

Senior Member
But to remind, only the first image is real and the second a model or CG based on the faked third one.
Thanks for the clarification.

For members who are interested in locating this airbase, you can do a Google Earth search - Liencheng, Loyan, Fujian. There were 46 J6, 3 Flankers and one KJ-500 AEW&C in lastest satellite image. You can also check on the historical images showing difference in numbers and positions of these aircraft from time to time.
 

Abominable

Captain
Registered Member
PLAAF had been toying with this idea for a long time, there were rumour that some J6/J7 had been converted into one-way suicide drone. Some were converted into target drones.
Impressive find, and even if they are fake it tells us someone else had this idea before. I wonder what the performance would be like with a J-7 stripped down and with the canopy removed.
Technically, it's quite doable. The question is in opportunity cost: could the resources spent on these conversions be better used elsewhere?
It wouldn't cost much at all, you've got the airframe for free. It'll certainly be cheaper than building an interceptor mach 2+ drone from scratch.
 

FairAndUnbiased

Colonel
Registered Member
An idea I had. The PLAAF has hundreds (thousands?) of J-7s that have either been retired or will be soon.

Why not convert them into drones? Stripping out all pilot support systems, maybe even the canopy. You've got a significant reduction in weight. The balance will be thrown off but I'm sure it can be mitigated.

Arm each with 2 PL-9s and you've got a very cost effective interceptor. With anti-radiation missiles you've got the perfect platform for "suicide" SEAD missions. Any reason why this would be a bad idea?
one thing to note: unlike cruise missiles, these will take up airbase runway space and time to launch! they can't be launched from containers like missiles. so the value of these cannot be compared to a cruise missile as runway space and time is very limited.

I don't know how many sorties can be generated per day per base, so that is a key determinant of how good this is. they should be compared to something with equivalent opportunity cost like a purpose built drone. And an empty drone piloted J-6 might not be too worth.

Also have to note that a fighter crash doesn't necessarily do much damage. Here's a picture of what happened in WW2 when a kamikaze hit HMS Sussex, a cruiser, not even a battleship.

Japanese_kamikaze_on_HMS_Sussex.JPG

It literally only can scratch the paint.

Now if you add a 1000 kg bomb though... then things get much more interesting. Almost no cruise missiles can hold 1000 kg, but a J-6 can. And 1000 kg is a huge payload that is usually only on drop bombs, but a 1000 kg cruise missile is absolutely devastating.
 

Abominable

Captain
Registered Member
one thing to note: unlike cruise missiles, these will take up airbase runway space and time to launch! they can't be launched from containers like missiles. so the value of these cannot be compared to a cruise missile as runway space and time is very limited.

I don't know how many sorties can be generated per day per base, so that is a key determinant of how good this is. they should be compared to something with equivalent opportunity cost like a purpose built drone. And an empty drone piloted J-6 might not be too worth.

Also have to note that a fighter crash doesn't necessarily do much damage. Here's a picture of what happened in WW2 when a kamikaze hit HMS Sussex, a cruiser, not even a battleship.

Japanese_kamikaze_on_HMS_Sussex.JPG

It literally only can scratch the paint.

Now if you add a 1000 kg bomb though... then things get much more interesting. Almost no cruise missiles can hold 1000 kg, but a J-6 can. And 1000 kg is a huge payload that is usually only on drop bombs, but a 1000 kg cruise missile is absolutely devastating.
No reason why they would need to be one way drones, I think that would be very wasteful.

If you're using them in a strike role, fly to target, drop bomb(s) and return to base. If it doesn't make it back it's not a big loss, better than losing a pilot.

Still a jet fighter will have way more kinetic energy and fuel than a WW2 Mitsubishi zero.
 

FairAndUnbiased

Colonel
Registered Member
No reason why they would need to be one way drones, I think that would be very wasteful.

If you're using them in a strike role, fly to target, drop bomb(s) and return to base. If it doesn't make it back it's not a big loss, better than losing a pilot.

Still a jet fighter will have way more kinetic energy and fuel than a WW2 Mitsubishi zero.
ok then you need them to have at minimum a release mechanism and a target designation kit (rangefinder, compass, altimeter) for Beidou guided munitions. that's not too bad but adds to the cost.
 

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