The PLA Air force has started decommissioning its old Chengdu J-7 fighter jets with the more advanced next-generation aircraft. Global Times reported.
The J-7 fighter jets are currently part of an aviation brigade affiliated with the PLA Western Theater Command Air Force. The Air Force has recently conducted combat-oriented exercises and these exercises were the ‘curtain call performance’ of the J-7 jets, as the unit will soon receive the new more advanced aircraft to replace the old ones. According to China Central Television (CCTV).
The Air Force is now replacing its old fleet of J-7s with the new third-generation fighter aircraft in large numbers. The new aircraft includes J-10, J-11, and J-16 from third-generation and J-20 from fourth-generation fighter jets. According to the military analyst, it is just a matter of time before the outdated second-generation J-7 retires.
The exercises included the JJ-7, a trainer version of the J-7 jets, which played the role of an enemy aircraft. While two J-7s were dispatched to intercept the aircraft. The report said.
Chengdu J-7 fighter jets:
The J-7 fighter jets, NATO reporting name ‘Fishcan’ is the Chinese second-generation aircraft based on Soviet MiG-21 jets. It can carry short-range, infrared homing air-to-air missiles that are effective in close air-to-air combat.
The J-7 fighter jet is acting as the main source and considered the most experienced fighter jet currently in service with PLA Air Force.
It has a ceiling of more than 20,000 meters. It can move with Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound), making it the fastest aircraft in the PLA Air Force fleet from the 1960s to 1990s and the absolute main force in fighting for air superiority. CCTV reported.
The F-7 jet can be integrated with third-generation fighter jets and early warning aircraft to play a unique role in combat. Still, the J-7 trained pilot cadets can fly advanced fighter jets.
The J-7 is a classic second-generation fighter jet that significantly contributed to safeguarding China’s airspace. Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert said.
PLA Air Force has developed the JL-9 trainer jet by gaining experience from modifications and upgrades run on the J-7 fighter aircraft. Wei added.
Now the J-7 is getting older and needs to be replaced with advanced fighter jets like a third-generation J-10 aircraft, that perform better in both land attack and aerial combat.
The PLA has accelerated the modernization plans of its military with new and more advanced weapons. As the Chinese government has announced an increase in the defense budget by 6.8 percent in 2021. Retiring the old J-7s and replacing them with the new ones is the perfect example of the PLA’s modernization plan.
Modernization in the Chinese Military:
China is inducting the next-generation weapon systems into its military to catch up with its adversaries in terms of technological advancements.
Some modernization done by China to its military includes the induction of fifth-generation, stealth, multi-role J-20 aircraft to its Air Force. It is the most advanced fighting machine currently in service with the PLA Air Force. According to military analysts, the J-20 will compete with the American most advanced F-22 Raptors in the future. F-22s are considered the most advanced fighter jets in the world.
China is also working on the new advanced Shenyang FC-31 aircraft. The aircraft is currently under development by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation. It is also a 5th-generation, stealth aircraft with advanced features and has the capabilities matched with the United States F-35 fighter jets. The F-35 aircraft is also a technological marvel by the USA.
The PLA Navy is also commissioning the advanced corvettes and frigates to strengthen its coastal defense. In recent times China has inducted the Type 056A corvettes into its Navy.
China is also encountering its adversaries in the South China Sea. PLA Navy is working to build larger ships which includes Type 054A frigates, Type 052D destroyer, Type 052D large destroyer, and Type 075 amphibious assault ships.
China’s PLA Air Force is on its way to modernize its military for future combat. Replacing the old fleet of J-7 fighter jets is just one example.