Warplanes: June 17, 2003

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The first flight of the Chinese FC-1 (or "Super 7") fighter is now supposed to take place later this year. The redesign of the Chinese J-7 (a MiG 21 clone) began in the 1980s with American warplane builder Grumman as a partner. But this fell apart in the early 1990s and the Russians and Israelis took over. The Super 7 will have an Israeli Elta-2032 radar for fire control, and a Russian RD-93 turbofan engine. The development project may be slow, but it is also cheap, with a total investment of les than $250 million, including $75 million from Pakistan, with the rest from the Chinese government. The Super-7 is mainly for export, with the major customer being Pakistan (to replace the 120 F-7M/P fighters they already have.) If the Super 7 performs well, the Chinese Air Force may use this aircraft as well. Originally, the Super 7 was seen as a replacement for American F-5s and Russian MiG-21s in third world air forces. But when the Russians joined the project, they turned the design into a continuation of their 1980s R33 project. This means that, potentially, the Super 7 could be more like the F-16 than an improved MiG-21. Even so, the Chinese plan to sell the Super 7 for less than $15 million each, less than half of what a current F-16 costs. 


 


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