Chinese name: Jianjiji-8 (Fighter aircraft 8)
Westernised designation: F-8
NATO reporting name: Finback-B
TYPE: Multirole fighter.
PROGRAMME: Development of original J-8 started 1964; first flight 5 July 1969; initial production authorised July 1979, began December 1979. All-weather J-8 I made maiden flight 24 April 1981 and production approved July 1985; ended 1987 after between 100 and 150 J-8s and J-8 Is.
Present configuration is improved J-8 II, on which design work began 1980; maiden flight of first of four prototypes took place 12 June 1984. Peace Pearl programme, to upgrade J-8 II with Western avionics, embargoed by US government mid-1989 and cancelled by China 1990; alternative (F-8 IIM) upgrade programme now in progress. Trials with some parts of structure covered in Xikai SF18 radar-absorbent material were reported in early 1999.
CURRENT VERSIONS: J-8 ('Finback-A'): Initial clear-weather day fighter. Single-piece forward-opening canopy; simple ranging radar in nose centrebody; single-barrelled gun on each side of nosewheel bay, with PL-2 AAMs on inboard wing pylons and provision for external tanks outboard.
J-8 I ('Finback-A'): Improved (all-weather) version of J-8. Same power plant, but fitted from outset with Sichuan SR-4 fire-control radar in intake centrebody; single twin-barrelled 23 mm cannon on each side of lower front fuselage. Production completed. Approximately 54 in service in mid-2001, by which time apparently redesignated J-8A; figure includes some converted to reconnaissance role (see JZ-8 paragraph). Units have included 1st and 3rd Regiments of 1st Fighter Division at Anshan; some (including reconnaissance versions) remain in use with 70th Fighter Regiment at Yangkun.
J-8B ('Finback-B'): All-weather version (originally J-8 II), some 70 per cent redesigned compared with J-8 I. Main configuration change is to 'solid' nose and twin lateral air intakes, providing more nose space for fire-control radar and other avionics, plus increased airflow for more powerful WP13A II turbojets. In production and service, but manufactured in small economic batches rather than continuous production. Late-production J-8Bs have an upgraded (KLJ-1 ?) fire-control radar with a lookdown/shootdown mode compatible with PL-8 (Python 3) IR-guided and PL-11 semi-active radar-guided AAMs, plus a new KJ-8602 RWR antenna on the fintip. New avionics, some possibly of Israeli design or origin, include an HX-13E HUD, 563B INS, JD-3II Tacan and an RKL 800A integrated ECM suite. In service with PLA Air Force and Navy.
Detailed description applies to J-8B.
J-8 II ACT: Active Control Technology (fly-by-wire) testbed, which first flew 29 December 1996 and completed its 49th and last sortie on 21 September 1999; shown in model form at Airshow China in November 2000. Full-authority quad-redundant, three-axis digital AFCS; small canards mounted high on air intakes to induce instability; two 1553B-standard flight computers with databus interface; integrated servo actuators for all moving control surfaces.
J-8C: New production variant (originally J-8 III), apparently based on development work with J-8 II ACT. Features include fly-by-wire flight controls, canards, WP14 turbojets (73.6 kN; 16,535 lb st with afterburning), in-flight refuelling probe and new IAI Flta EL/M-2034 or similar fire-control radar. Prototype (8301) reportedly flew in 1993, but flight test not completed until late 2001; may now be in limited use.
J-8D ('Finback-B Mod'): Designation (originally J-8 IV) of 12 or more J-8Bs built or modified for in-flight refuelling; non-retractable (but possibly removable) probe on starboard side of cockpit; combat radius increased to 648 n miles (1,200 km; 745 miles). In service with PLA Air Force and Navy.
JZ-8: Reconnaissance version (also reported as J-8E and J-8 V), believed to be converted from J-8A; at least six known. Retains gun armament; undernose sensor package similar to that fitted to some Su-17/20/22 variants; centreline pod similar in appearance to that carried by MiG-21R, incorporating large rectangular camera window or SLAR antenna. In service with PLA Air Force.
F-8 II: Originally proposed export version, subsequently modified to become present F-8 IIM.
F-8 IIM: Upgraded version; described separately.
CUSTOMERS: PLA Air Force and Navy.
DESIGN FEATURES: Extension of late 1950s Soviet heavy fighter theory. Thin-section, mid-mounted delta wings and all-sweptback tail surfaces; fuselage has area rule 'waisting', detachable rear portion for engine access, and dorsal spine fairing. Large ventral fin under rear fuselage, main portion of which folds sideways to starboard during take-off and landing, provides additional directional stability; small fence on each wing upper surface near tip; small airscoops at foot of fin leading-edge and at top of fuselage each side, above tailplane. Sweepback 60° on wing and tailplane leading-edges; wings have slight anhedral.
FLYING CONTROLS: Hydraulically boosted ailerons, rudder and low-set all-moving tailplane; two-segment single-slotted flaps on each wing trailing-edge, inboard of aileron; four door-type undetfuselage airbrakes, one under each engine air intake trunk and one immediately aft of each mainwheel well.
STRUCTURE: Conventional aluminium alloy semi-monocoque/ stressed skin construction, with high-tensile steel for high load-bearing areas of wings and fuselage and titanium in high-temperature fuselage areas; ailerons, rudder and rear portion of tailplane are of aluminium honeycomb with sheet aluminium skin; dielectric skins on nosecone, tip of main fin, and on non-folding portion of ventral fin leading-edge.
LANDING GEAR: Hydraulically retractable tricycle type, with single wheel and oleo-pneumatic shock-absorber on each unit. Steerable nose unit retracts forward, main units inward into centre-fuselage; mainwheels turn to stow vertically inside fuselage, resulting in slight overwing bulge. Brake-chute in bullet fairing at base of rudder.
POWER PLANT: Two LMC (Liyang) WP13A II turbojets, each rated at 42.7 kN (9,590 lb st) dry and 65.9 kN (14,815 lb st) with afterburning, mounted side by side in rear fuselage with pen-nib fairing above and between exhaust nozzles. Lateral, non-swept air intakes, with automatically regulated ramp angle and large splitter plates similar in shape to those of MiG-23. Internal fuel capacity (four integral wing tanks plus fuselage tanks) approximately 5,400 litres (1,426 US gallons; 1,188 Imp gallons). Single-point pressure refuelling. Provision for auxiliary fuel tanks on fuselage centreline and each outboard underwing pylon. J-8D retrofitted with probe for in-flight refuelling from Xian H-6 (Tu-16) bombers converted as aerial tankers.
ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only, on zero/zero ejection seat under one-piece canopy hinged at rear and opening upward. Cockpit pressurised, heated and air conditioned. Heated windscreen.
SYSTEMS: Two simple air-cycle environmental control systems, one for cockpit heating and air conditioning and one for radar cooling; cooling air bled from engine compressor. Two 207 bar (3,000 lb/sq in) independent hydraulic systems (main utility system plus one for flight control surfaces boost), powered by engine-driven pumps. Primary electrical power (28.5 V DC) from two 12 kW engine-driven starter/generators, with two 6kVA alternators for 115/200 V three-phase AC at 400 Hz. Pneumatic bottles for emergency landing gear extension. Pop-out ram air emergency turbine under fuselage.
AVIONICS: Comms: VHF/UHF and HF/SSB radios; 'Odd Rods'-type IFF
Radar: Obsolete Type 208 monopulse radar in nose. To be retrofitted with Phazotron Zhuk-8 II multimode fire-control radar (100 ordered in June 2001).
Flight: ILS, Tacan, marker beacon receiver, radio compass, radar altimeter, autopilot.
Mission: Gyro gunsight and gun camera.
Self-Defence: RWR (antenna in fintip); chaff/flare dispensers in tailcone.
Enlarged avionics bays in nose and fuselage provide room for modernised fire-control system and other upgraded avionics of later versions.
ARMAMENT: One 23 mm Type 23-3 twin-barrel cannon, with 200 rounds, in underfuselage pack immediately aft of nosewheel doors. Seven external stations (one under fuselage and three under each wing) for a variety of stores which can include PL-2B IR air-to-air missiles, PL-7 medium-range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles, Qingan HF-16B 12-round pods of 57 mm Type 57-2 unguided air-to-air rockets, launchers for 90 mm air-to-surface rockets, bombs, or (centreline and outboard underwing stations only) auxiliary fuel tanks.