BEIJING – Recently, Chinese media reported on a new version of the JH-7A fighter, which should be called JH-7AII.
Although the version is almost identical to the previous version, the major changes are believed to be related to the avionics and radar of the aircraft.
In addition, it is assumed that changes have been made to the platform mission computer, power supplies, and radar post-processing capabilities.
The JH-7A is a two-seater twin-engined aircraft that entered service with the Naval Aviation and the Chinese Air Force in 2004, with its original version flying for the first time in 1988. The bomber, which is capable of carrying four Anti-ship missiles, as well as other external cargoes, have as their specialty the marine attack.
Of the 270 JH-7 Flying Leopard built today, approximately 240 remain in service , split evenly between Naval Aviation and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, according to The National Interest magazine.
The leopards Flying may use the short- to -air missile PL and PL-5-8 range, and can carry missiles potentially long range air to air guided by PL-11 or PL-12 radar.
Long-range air-to-surface missiles could only be used if the aircraft had long-range sensors, so the next version of the aircraft is likely to feature radar enhancements to facilitate integration with the required systems.
In addition, the aircraft is also expected to upgrade its engines, such as the WS-9A turbofans, which can deliver between 10 and 15 percent more thrust.
Although the aircraft is not one of the most modern, it can still pose some danger to enemies and is therefore part of Chinese plans as well as its national security strategy.
The JH-7 “Flying Leopard”—codenamed “Flounder” by NATO—is an old-school design conceived before the advent of stealth technology. The bomber manufacturer Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation began working on a two-seat supersonic H-7 bomber in the early 1970s inspired by the fast and powerful American F-111 Aardvark.
Over time, the concept was reworked into a fast-anti-ship fighter bomber, (resulting in the “JH” designation), with a pilot and weapons systems officer seated in a tandem arrangement. The resulting jet—the first in China designed using computer software— somewhat resembled an enlarged version of European Tornado and Jaguar attack jets.