Satellite photos of China show
construction of what appears to be a base for a fourth squadron of J-10
fighters. That would mean about 130 in service by the end of the year. Each
squadron has 28 J-10s. There are a few other aircraft assigned to training
centers. At least one more squadron is expected to appear next year.
looks something like the American F-16, and weighs about the same (19 tons).
Like the F-16 the J10 has only one engine (built in Russia). It's no accident
that the J10 resembles the F-16, because Israel apparently sold them technology
for their Lavi jet fighter, a "super-F-16" that Israel abandoned because it was
the help from Israel and Russia, the J10 turned out to perform poorly in
air-to-air combat. In response, the
Chinese have been reconfiguring some of them as a fighter-bombers (the J-10C).
This two seat version can carry over four tons of bombs and missiles and has
been equipped with a fire control system for delivering missiles and smart
bombs. The J10C will have a weapons officer to concentrate on hitting things on
recent earthquake in central China damaged several of the plants building J-10
components, this is not expected to slow down production significantly. China
is seeking export sales for the J-10, selling the aircraft as an "F-16 replacement",
but for half the price.