PLA Eastern Theater Command commissions more J-10C fighters

A J-10 fighter jet attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Southern Theater Command taxies in speed before takeoff during a flight training exercise on October 11, 2021.Photo:China Military

With the aim of better safeguarding aerial and maritime security as well as national unity, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command Air Force recently replaced some of its old J-7 fighter jets with advanced J-10C fighter jets, the state broadcaster revealed on Sunday, shortly after the island of Taiwan commissioned the first combat wing of F-16V fighter jets on Thursday.

Nine J-7E fighter jets recently left an airbase in the east of South China’s Guangdong Province, as they have been retired from active combat service and are being replaced by domestically developed J-10C fighter jets, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday. The J-10C, which has been in service with several other PLA Air Force units, is one and a half generations more advanced than the J-7E, and will give pilots significantly more advantages in combat, analysts said. Colonel Wang Hongbo, one of the pilots in the brigade affiliated with the Eastern Theater Command Air Force switching to fly the J-10C, has been practicing on the new warplane for nearly half a year.

Wang said on CCTV that the new aircraft has changed the way he perceives the battlefield. With the J-10C, the pilot needs to switch his role from just being a pilot to being a combatant, Wang said, noting that since the old J-7 uses mechanical flight controls while the J-10C uses fly-by-wire, the new warplane allows the pilot to focus on the battlefield instead of on steering the aircraft. Judging from the CCTV report footage, the J-10Cs the brigade received are equipped with the domestically developed WS-10 Taihang engines, Shanghai-based news website said.

The announcement of the commissioning of the new batch of J-10Cs came after the commissioning of the island of Taiwan’s first combat wing of US-made F-16V fighter jets on Thursday. Media on the island of Taiwan claimed that the F-16V can face down the J-20 stealth aircraft of the PLA, which is a fifth-generation heavy fighter jet. But in fact, the F-16V is just a 4.5-generation medium fighter jet, and the PLA’s J-10C is enough to rival it, a Chinese mainland military expert told the Global Times on Sunday, requesting anonymity.

The commissioning of more J-10Cs will further widen the power gap across the Taiwan Straits, the expert said.

In addition to the J-10C fighter, the PLA Eastern Theater Command Air Force has previously received delivery of the advanced J-16 heavy fighter, CCTV said, highlighting the speed of new aircraft deliveries.

The PLA Eastern Theater Command Air Force stands ready to safeguard aerial and maritime security as well as national unity, CCTV reported.

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