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rec.aviation.military Frequently Asked Questions (part 5 of 5)
Section - H.11. Chinese aircraft designations

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Chinese aircraft use a fairly simple system consisting of a letter or
letters to indicate the role, a dash, and a number, sometimes followed by
additional letters or numbers to indicate subtypes.  The role letters are
often replaced by their English equivalents for export versions (for
example, the export version of the Q-5 (Qiang = Attack) is the A-5).

The numeric sequences always start with 5.  Oddly enough for one of the
last bastions of Communism, this is the result of superstition; 4 is
considered an unlucky number in China (because the Chinese words for "four"
and "death" are very similar).  The designation "J-2", often quoted for the
licence-built MiG-15, is mythical; the Chinese aircraft have always been
known simply as MiG-15, even after the Chinese and Russian governments
parted ways.

Role letters:

    CJ (export PT) = Chujiao (basic trainer)
    H  (export B)  = Hong (bomber)
    J  (export F)  = Jian (fighter)
    JJ (export FT) = Jianjiao (fighter trainer)
    Q  (export A)  = Qiang (attack)
    SH (export PS) = Shuihong (maritime bomber)
    Y              = Yun (transport)
    Z              = Zhi (vertical, i.e.  helicopter)

Many Russian, and more recently Western, aircraft have been manufactured in
China and given Chinese designations.  These include:

    CJ-5 = Yakovlev Yak-18 "Max"
    H-5  = Ilyushin Il-28 "Beagle"
    H-6  = Tupolev Tu-16 "Badger"
    J-5  = Mikoyan MiG-17 "Fresco"
    J-6  = Mikoyan MiG-19 "Farmer"
    J-7  = Mikoyan MiG-21 "Fishbed"
    JJ-7 = Mikoyan MiG-21U "Mongol" (but see below)
    Y-5  = Antonov An-2 "Colt"
    Y-7  = Antonov An-24/26 "Coke/Curl"
    Y-8  = Antonov An-12 "Cub"
    Z-5  = Mil Mi-4 "Hare"
    Z-6  = Mil Mi-8 "Hip"
    Z-8  = Aérospatiale AS.321 Super Frelon
    Z-9  = Aérospatiale AS.365 Dauphin 2

Training versions of the J-5 and J-6 were built (JJ-5 and JJ-6); these had
no Russian counterparts (there was no MiG-17U or MiG-19U).  Equating the
JJ-7 to the MiG-21U in the list above is slightly misleading, since the
trainer version was developed independently, not based on the Russian
trainer.

Indigenous Chinese fighter designs have gone up to at least J-12.  The J-8
has entered service (see B.13).  The J-9 was cancelled about 1978, with no
examples built; the J-7III and J-8II were developed partly as replacements
for it.  The J-10 is a current project, started in the late 1980s, and
expected to enter service before the end of this decade.  The J-11
designation has not been used.  The J-12 was built (one or two prototypes
only) in Nanchang during the 1970s (the number seems to have been used out
of sequence for some reason), in competition with the J-7 and J-8; it
resembled a scaled-up MiG-15/17, and was cancelled because of its poor
weapon system.

It has recently been reported that China and Israel are collaborating on a
new fighter based on Israel's abandoned Lavi project (J-11?).

Two Chinese aircraft have been given NATO codenames:  J-8 "Finback" and Q-5
"Fantan".

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Top Document: rec.aviation.military Frequently Asked Questions (part 5 of 5)
Previous Document: H.10. Canadian aircraft designations
Next Document: H.12. German aircraft designations (WW2)

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM