Air Weapons

Chengdu

J-7 'Fishbed'

Based on the MiG-21, the Chengdu J-7 'Fishbed' followed the Chinese practice of locally-producing most major Soviet designs up until the Sino-Soviet split. The first series of aircraft were built under license although after relations deteriorated the Chinese were forced to reverse-engineer most subsequent variants, as was typical at the time most initial units were of poor quality which forced a number of suspensions especially during the Cultural Revolution. Large-scale production resumed afterwards with improved variants entering service and many others destined for export with the option of including Western avionics as well as other advanced features, giving them a significant boost in capability at a fraction of the cost of modern fighters. J-7s have been exported to Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, North Yemen, Burma, Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Pakistan and various hundreds still serve with the PLAAF and PLANAF despite being obsolete.

First flight of the J-7 (based on the MiG-21F-13) was achieved on 17 January 1966 and entered service as the J-7I one decade later due to production delays. The improved J-7II (or J-7B)was also developed during this time and included features from the MiG-21PFMA such as more powerful engines and avionics. Further enhancements led to the J-7E which has since replaced earlier versions of the J-7 in PLA service, on the other hand a planned copy of the MiG-21MF known as the J-7III (or J-7C) failed to meet expectations and was produced in minimal quantities. The most recent Chinese variant is the J-7G which is expected to breathe new life into this venerable fighter in the years to come. Export versions of the J-7 are known as the F-7 and generally share the same variant letter as their Chinese counterparts although some exceptions are the F-7M Airguard and the F-7P Skybolt for Pakistan both of which are heavily equipped with Western avionics and control systems plus an increased range of weapons (another more recent export variant, the F-7MG, is based on the J-7E). Finally, a two-seat trainer is known as the JJ-7.

Preceded by:

None

Succeeded by:

None

Datafile

DesignJ-7J-7EF-7M
Name--Airguard
TypeFighterFighterFighter
Year196619901983
Crew111
Dimensions
Length14.89 m14.89 m13.94 m
Height4.10 m4.10 m4.10 m
Wing Span7.15 m8.32 m7.15 m
Wing Area23 m²?23 m²
Weight
Empty5,275 kg5,292 kg5,275 kg
Maximum7,531 kg9,100 kg8,880 kg
Wing Loading327.4 kg/m²?386.1 kg/m²
Performance
SpeedMach 2.0Mach 2.0Mach 2.0
Ceiling18,800 m18,800 m18,200 m
Range2,230 km2,200 km1,750 km
Powerplant
Engine1 x WP-7B
Liyang
6,100 kgf
1 x WP-13F
Liyang
6,720 kgf
1 x WP-7BM
Liyang
6,600 kgf
Thrust/Weight1.051.151.14
Sensors
Radar-Type 226
-
Armament
Guns2 x 30-mm
2 x 30-mm
2 x 30-mm
Payload1,000 kg2,000 kg1,000 kg
Hardpoints444
AA WeaponsPL-2
PL-5
PL-7
PL-8
PL-9
PL-2
PL-7
R.500
Production
Built???
Total2,400

Gallery