New improved Xian JH-7B Flying Leopard makes first flight


    Damien Dang


When the PLA examined the future role of air forces, it identified a need for precision air-to-surface capability. An improved JH-7, the JH-7A, was designed to meet this requirement. The JH-7A's general and deputy general designers were Tang Changhong (唐长红) and Wu Jieqin (吴介琴) respectively.
The JH-7A had a lighter and stronger airframe than the JH-7, allowing the newer aircraft to carry a maximum ordnance load of 9000 kg. In PLANAF, this allowed four YJ-82 anti-ship missiles to be carried, compared to the two on the JH-7.
The JH-7A is equipped with domestic Chinese helmet mounted sight (HMS) for evaluation, and this HMS currently being tested is developed by Xi'an Optronics Group (Xi Guang Ji Tuan 西光集团), a member of Northern Electro-Optic Co. Ltd (北方光电股份有限公司), the wholly owned subsidiary of Norinco, and the HMS on JH-7A was developed from the helicopter HMS manufactured by the same company, thus both share many common components. HMS tested on JH-7A is compatible with air-to-air/surface missiles, and it is also compatible with airborne sensors such as radars and electro-optics so that the sensors are slaved to HMS, enabling the fast tracking and aiming of the weaponry. The cockpit of JH-7A still retains some traditional single function dial indicators, but there are two large color liquid crystal display multi-function displays which can be monochrome if pilots choose. Other avionic upgrades of JH-7 include: replacing Type 960-2 noise jammer with BM/KJ-8605, replacing Type 265A radar altimeter with Type 271 radar altimeter, fully digitized fly-by-wire flight control system, and in addition, Type 232H airborne radar is replaced by JL-10A pulse Doppler radar, enabling JH-7A to fire laser-guided bombs and Kh-31P anti-radiation missiles. The existing JH-7s were upgraded with JH-7A electronics. Two additional hardpoints increased the total to 6 from the original 4, and one-piece windscreen replaced the original three-piece windscreen.
The JH-7A was the first Chinese aircraft to use paperless design, and the software used was CATIA V5. 


A new and much improved JH-7B is currently under development. It features a whole new avionics system, added stealth features to reduce frontal RCS; a more powerful WS-9A engine and new advance weapon package including the YJ-12. The new JH-7B also added aerial refuel capabilities which greatly increases its combat radius. However new pictures of the JH-7B shows no changes in airframe as opposed to anticipated incorporated stealth features. The development worked on JH-7B variant was mainly on update of avionics and weapon system.
It is expected to enter production in 2015. Wikipedia

General characteristics
  • Crew: 2: pilot, weapons operator
  • Payload: 9,000 kg (19,842 lb) of weapons
  • Length: 22.32 m (73 ft 2 in)
  • Wingspan: 12.8 m (41 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 6.22 m (20 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: m² (ft²)
  • Empty weight: 14,500 kg  (31,900 lb)
  • Loaded weight: kg (lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 28,475 kg  (62,720 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Xian WS-9 afterburning turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 54.29 kN (12,250 lbf) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 91.26 kN (20,515 lbf) each
  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.75 (1,808 km/h, 1,122 mph)
  • Combat radius: 1,759 km (890 nm, 1,093 mi)
  • Ferry range: 3,700 km (1,970 nm, 2,299 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 16,000 m (51,180 ft)
  • Wing loading: kg/m² (lb/ft²)
JL-10A pulse Doppler radar.

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