J-10B “Vigorous Dragon” Fighter Jets are a Full Set, Soon to be a Regiment

New pictures have emerged of additional production models of the J-10B “Vigorous Dragon” fighter jets, one of the latest planes to equip China’s growing air force (PLAAF).

The J-10B differs from the original J-10A model in several ways: active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, integrated jamming pods, IRST sensor, diverterless supersonic intake (DSI), and an uprated AL-31FN Series III turbofan engine. These upgrades give the J-10B increased engine power, infrared detection against stealthy aircraft and increased jamming capability against enemy missiles. In particular, the DSI has two advantages over traditional engine intakes: it saves weight and is more stealthy against radar. The most important upgrade in the J-10B is its AESA radar, which features a longer range, frequency hopping to foil enemy jamming and higher power to track stealth aircraft (such as the US B-2, F-22, and F-35) at long range. The J-10B also possesses a strong multirole capability– it can carry both 100km ranged PL-12 air to air missiles and LS-500J laser guided bombs on the same mission. These advanced “4.5+ generation” features places the J-10B in the same class as the F-16 Block 60 (flown only by the UAE), French Rafale, and Eurofighter Typhoon.

The “122” serial number indicates that this fighter is the 22nd J-10B fighter to be produced for the PLAAF; the highest production serial number to date is “124”. Since late 2013, Chengdu Aviation Corporation has begun serial production of the J-10B, the latest Chinese fighter, which had its first flight in 2008. There are also three prototype J-10Bs, numbered 1031, 1034 and 1035. Compared to all the other J-10s, which have Russian AL-31FN engines, Number 1035 was fitted with a domestic WS-10B turbofan engine, though the WS-10B was not adopted, likely for cost reasons and in order to streamline logistics. This is potentially significant to the international arms trade. A J-10B powered by the WS-10B would be a completely domestic Chinese fighter, thus bypassing any Russian objections J-10B exports, which could compete with the MiG-35 in foreign markets.

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