The Bayi Aerobatic Team of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force has converted to flying J-10C fighter jets, and will make its first overseas performance with the new aircraft at Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) in Malaysia.
With the use of the J-10C, China has become only the third country in the world after Russia and the US to deliver flight performances with 4.5-generation fighter jets, and the overseas performance shows the PLA Air Force's confidence and openness to the world, experts were quoted as saying by the Global Times on Tuesday.
Based on the PLA Air Force's equipment development plan, the Bayi Aerobatic Team has converted to flying J-10C fighter jets, marking the seventh aircraft conversion since the team was established, Senior Colonel Xie Peng, a spokesperson at the PLA Air Force, announced on Tuesday, a week before the team's scheduled participation in the 16th Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) in Malaysia from May 23 to 27, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Tuesday.
Seven J-10C performance aircraft and two Y-20 transport aircraft set out from a PLA Air Force airfield in Southwest China for Malaysia on Tuesday, CCTV reported.
Since its establishment in 1962, the team has flown with seven types of aircraft - the J-5, the J-6, the JJ-5, the J-7EB, the J-7GB, the J-10A/S and the J-10C.
From the J-5 to the J-10C, the PLA Air Force's equipment development is reflected in the aerobatic team, Li Bin, leader of the Bayi Aerobatic Team, said in the CCTV report. He revealed that the team took only about one month to finish the conversion.
Before the J-10C, the Bayi Aerobatic Team used to fly the J-10A and the J-10S, which are the single-seat and twin-seat versions of the original fourth-generation J-10 fighter jet.
Compared with the previous J-10A/S, the J-10C is reconfigured to use a diverterless supersonic inlet and a different nose cone to optimize the aerodynamic design, Zhang Xuefeng, a Chinese military expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
The J-10C also saw upgrades in avionic systems including the radar system and added an infrared search and track system, making its comprehensive combat capability half a generation ahead of the J-10A, Zhang said.
The J-10C used by the Bayi Aerobatic Team is also different from the J-10C currently used by combat units, and one of the biggest differences is the addition of an enlarged spine, according to the CCTV report.
The large spine can house more electronic devices or extra fuel, Zhang said, and it could also contribute to the aircraft's stability.
Another important point is that the J-10C is equipped with China's domestically developed Taihang engine, Chinese military expert Fu Qianshao told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Fu said that the higher thrust and more accurate controllability of the domestically developed engine will allow the aerobatic team to deliver more stunning moves in its performances.
The Bayi Aerobatic Team's visit to Malaysia and participation in the LIMA exhibition was first announced by China's Ministry of National Defense on Monday. A press release from the ministry said that the Type 052D guided missile destroyer Zhanjiang of the PLA Navy and the Bayi Aerobatic Team of the PLA Air Force will visit Malaysia for the LIMA exhibition from May 23 to 27.
The Bayi Aerobatic Team's upcoming flight performance at the exhibition will be the J-10C's first in an overseas air show, and it is expected to demonstrate the aircraft's outstanding capabilities and the pilots' exquisite skills, observers said.It is also an opportunity to let the world know more about the PLA Air Force, build bonds of friendship, and show the PLA Air Force's image as a peaceful and powerful force, experts said.
In recent years, the Bayi Aerobatic Team delivered flight performances at multiple editions of Airshow China as well as in foreign countries including Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan and Singapore.