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Thread: FC-1 and J-10, did China err by making both of them?

  1. #1
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    Apr 2013
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    FC-1 and J-10, did China err by making both of them?

    the J-10 is the lo of the hi-lo set up China has with its Flanker clones, like the F-16 is with the F-15 and we know how well the F-16 did on the export market.

    Did China err by making a slightly smaller, less capable aircraft for export (and keeping the J-10 domestic)? diverting time, money and resources into two projects and killing its J-10 export potential (now that its open). not to mention weakening Pakistan

    China had a policy of developing monkey models for exports for a limited time. FC-1 instead of J-10, Type 90 instead of Type 96, FC-31 instead of J-20, etc.
    Instead they could've saved resources by making a dumbed down J-10 for Pakistan, similar to what the Soviets did with their MiGs

  2. #2
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    I think CAC and other Chinese companies would be happy to sell dumbed down versions of the J-10, but PRC Gov has to clear them for export.

    The other thing is the price and the market they are targetting. FC-1/JF-17 literally has no competition at that price point for brand new A/C (Only exception maybe Korean T-50/A-50). To get something cheaper you have go for 2nd-hand A/C or J-7 variants. But an export J-10 will be pricier (probabaly significatly pricier) and will have to compete with MiG-35, F-16, Gripen etc. J-10 still uses AL-31FN and the Russians migh not want to clear them for export for a 3rd-party that will be in competition with MiG-29/MiG-35. Off-course the WS-10 has been going through many breakthroughs so this should change but we have to wait and see.

    Plus, PRC is exporting more and more sohphisticate equipment. Saudi Arabia is getting Wing-Loong II UCAV. Thailand recently bought VT-4 tanks which probably better than any tank in the PLA with the exception of the Type-99 variants. Thailand also bought SSK that are a variant of the PLAN Yuan class. I think Pakistan will also get some.

  3. #3
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    The export restrictions from Russia is likely what pushed the FC-1 because of Pakistani-India-Russian relations

    they thought the domestic alternative the WS-13 would arrive before the WS-10. But it seems the WS-10 came out first, so ultimately the J-10 will have even less Russian content.

    I think the price point is also not so clear as an only J-10 development would drive J-10 costs down, while the FC-1 is becoming more expensive with all these new features being added.

  4. #4
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    The J-10 was such a long time coming yet it seems like they popped out the FC-31 pretty quick. They should have made the FC-31 instead of the J-10

    The J-10 is like the Euro fighter. Its stuck between era's. It was introduced in the same year that the Raptor was. Talk about being an era behind. And then they catch up with the FC-31 yet they are shelving it ?

  5. #5
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    Russia and China should do a joint venture with the FC-31. (I think its a Mig 29 chassis under there ) Instead of Russia trying to squeeze the last bit of juice out of the Mig 29 with the 35, and China dumbing down the J-10, (dated design again), they could both make something out of the FC-31. The SC-35 (Sukhoi-Chengdu)

  6. #6
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    FC-1 was a child of Pakistani need and requirements, and Chinese expertise. Basically, Pakistan came to China and asked if they could design such and such plane for them. Then both sides agreed to share the cost of development to some degree. CAC is still making money on ever airframe made, be it for Pakistan or for export (the latter case should bring in more money per airframe). With Pakistan getting to 50% of domestic production for the plane the pakistani sales are not as profitable.

    One can only guess that CAC had some engineers with nothing to do and they went and made FC1. Contract was signed in 1999 and first plane flew in 2003. It was designed in the time when most of J10 work was over (J10 flew in 1998) and J20 work didn't heat up yet. Allegedly, lead designer of both FC1 and J20 is actually the same person. After j10, making FC1 was certainly an easier task. Plus CAC could leveraged some knowledge from tests they did on Super-7 project in 1980s.

    What prevents both j10 and fc1 from (serious) export sales is the issue of lack of suitable chinese made engine. It pretty much means J10 has no chance of being sold as long as Russia also offers its Mig-29 to any prospective buyer. And it means only the poorest china aligned countries' air forces will get the FC-1, as ones with at least a little money will also be eyeing the Mig-29, which will mean russia can, again, choose not to sell the engine. (potentially recent case of Bangladesh contest, though alignment with india and previously existing ecosystem for older mig29 also played a big role)

    Even though we keep reading news about domestic engine being tried on FC-1, to date we haven't seen a single image. On the other hand, J10 was seen with domestic engine, so one can perhaps assume that j10 actually has bigger chances of being exported in large numbers in the near future.

  7. #7
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    Given that the head designer of the J-20 started with the JF-17, moved up to the J-10B, and ended up designing the J-20, I wouldn't say the JF-17 was a failure at all. If you see it as a fundamentally Pakistani plane with Chinese design and technology, it was a cheap project that gave Yang Wei his start in aircraft design. Moreover, it gave Chengdu experience in playing with LERXes, without which the J-20 might have been a stealth Eurofighter instead of a stealth long-coupled Rafale. Remember, the Chinese came up with the long-coupled LERX-canard-delta airframe and it was the Europeans that followed, instead of the other way around.

  8. #8
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    im quite curious about the potential of the L-15 in the light attack, light fighter roles, and if it would truly be cheaper to buy and operate than the FC-1.

    ideally the PLAAF fleet would be L-15 / J-10 / Flanker clones with a gradual shift to J-20

  9. #9
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    L15 is too light to be taken seriously for anything other than training roles within PLAAF and PLANAF. That being said, out of the trio of lookalikes (Italian and Russian cousins) L-15 is the one with most redesign effort in the realms of supersonic flight. It's not only the redesigned rear end for the afterburners but lerx, wings and tails are also of different sweep angle. That may be due to advanced training requirements, but it may also signal the maker of L-15 plans to try and advertise their plane to small and poor countries as some sort of ultra-cheap multirole plane.

  10. #10
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    What 'light fighter' role can L-15 play? given there would be plenty of legacy Mig-21s or better fighters flying around in the neighbourhood. Perhaps just for policing duties.

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