China develops new jets to train pilots for new generation aircraft carriers

China new trainer jets carriers
Chinese JL-9 or FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle.

The Chinese company Guizhou Aircraft Industry Corporation (GAIC) has developed a project to upgrade the old JL-9 fighter aircraft - also known as FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle - to obtain a training jet for pilots who will serve on the nation's new aircraft carriers, the Type 002, which is currently under development.

The two current Chinese aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and Shandong, use a ski-jump launch system for the J-15 jets, while the Type 002 will be equipped with an electromagnetic catapult similar to that used on the USS Gerald Ford. Manufacturing of the Type 002 began in 2018 and is expected to be completed next year, it is not yet known when it will be operational.

The modified JL-9 is much cheaper than the J-15, according to Peking military expert Zhou Chenming. He said the naval version of the JL-9 will save the Navy a lot of money as a twin-engine J-15 costs at least $ 61 million, while a single-engine JL-9 costs around US $ 10 million. In addition, the J-15 is more expensive because it is a fighter jet and must be equipped with sophisticated devices and weapons, but a trainer does not need them.

Meanwhile, military expert Antony Wong Dong, said that the Hongdu Aircraft Industry Group has developed another trainer aircraft capable of operating from the new aircraft carriers. It is based on the JL-10 already in service with the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The JL-10 was developed from the Russian Yak-130 aircraft project.

Chinese JL-10 trainer light combat aircraft (Photo: Aleksey Korshunov).

The new trainer jet will represent the backbone of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) as it intends to have 4 carrier strike groups by 2030 equipped with a total of 200 aircraft. Training new generations of pilots is therefore a priority.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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