Experts recommend fighter plane for developing nations
Updated: 2014-12-30 07:33
By Zhao Lei(China Daily)
An Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC)'s JF-17/FC-1, operated by the Pakistan Air Force, stands on display during the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. [Photo/IC]
China could export a modern fighter jet to developing countries to take a bigger share of the international military aircraft market and boost its aviation industry, experts have suggested.
"The FC-1 Fierce Dragon can meet the air defense tasks of most developing nations that can't afford more advanced, fifth-generation fighter jets," said Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine.
"A lot of developing nations' air forces have neither menace from stealth aircraft nor requirements to launch long-distance airstrikes. For them, the FC-1 is a very sensible choice because it is reasonably priced and has a relatively strong capability," he told China Daily.
The FC-1 Fierce Dragon is a fourth-generation, lightweight multirole fighter jet developed by Aviation Industry Corp of China with assistance from Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, the leading aviation company in Pakistan. The aircraft is called the JF-17 Thunder in Pakistan.
Wang said the aircraft has huge potential to be improved and upgraded, as China has gained rich expertise and experience in the fields of composite materials, engines and avionics that can be adopted on the FC-1.
"Using cutting-edge composite materials to upgrade the aircraft will reduce the fuselage's weight, enabling designers to adopt a stealth airframe," Wang said. "In addition, AVIC can replace the plane's Russian-made RD-93 turbofan with China's latest engine."
Extensive upgrading has been effective in reattracting potential buyers. It also allows a manufacturer to diversify its product portfolio and present multiple variants of a plane to the market, according to Wang.
"China should also consider leasing the FC-1 to nations that are unable to afford the full price or are not familiar with Chinese weapons," he said.
Du Wenlong, a senior researcher at the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science, said the FC-1 boasts a high price-performance ratio and can be ranked among the top lightweight fighter jets of its kind.
He said that in addition to aerial combat, it can perform airstrikes on ships or ground targets at a low operational cost, suggesting "it is the best choice for small and medium-sized countries."