Warplanes: Twin Engined Turkey Tweaked To Sell

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September 28, 2009: China is pushing its J-8 fighter for export sales. The latest model, the J-8T, has a more modern radar and has been shown carrying a reconnaissance/electronic warfare pod.

The J-8 is an 18 ton, two engine, variant of the MiG-21. This was China's first attempt at building their own aircraft design. But it was not a very original or successful effort. The J-8 first flew in 1969, and didn't get into service until 1980. It was quickly realized that this was a turkey.

Fewer than 400 were built. The F-8 carries about three tons of bombs, and is not very maneuverable. China decided to make the most of it, and used the J-8 as a reconnaissance and electronic warfare aircraft. Thus the navy adopted it as well. It was a J-8 that collided with an American EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft off the coast in 2001. The J-8, which made the mistake of maneuvering too close to the much slower (propeller driven) EP-3, and crashed. The EP-3 survived and made an emergency landing in China, kicking off months of diplomatic tension.

 


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