Naval Air: Chinas F-15E


January21, 2007: The Chinese Navy has worked most of the bugs out of its locally designed and manufactured light bomber. The JH-7 serves the same purpose as the American F-15E or the Russian Su-24. The JH-7 is a 27 ton, twin engine aircraft, with a 40 foot wingspan. However, it is underpowered, and only has a five ton bomb load. The navy would use it mainly for carrying anti-ship missiles. The aircraft has an operational radius of about 900 kilometers, enabling it to contribute to an attack on Taiwan, or a blockade of the islands ports.

The JH7 entered service a decade ago, and about a hundred (four regiments) of them are available. Mass production was delayed because the aircraft was designed to use a British engine. China thought it could reverse-engineer this engine, but was unable to do so, and had to arrange for a manufacturing license. The Chinese air force has expressed some interest in the aircraft, especially now that the Chinese are making smart bombs.


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