FTC-2000G Multirole Fighter Debuts at Airshow China 2018

 - November 13, 2018, 10:03 AM
The FTC-2000G flew during the first day of Airshow China, remaining on static display thereafter. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Following its first flight on September 28, AVIC’s FTC-2000G fighter made its show debut at Zhuhai's Airshow China in October.

The flying prototype was painted in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) standard blue-grey camouflage, flying on the first day of Zhuhai airshow and remaining on static display thereafter.

The preceding FTC-2000 is an advanced trainer for lead-in fighter and tactical countermeasures training, with an added capability as an interceptor and ground-attack aircraft.

The FTC-2000G, meanwhile, is described as a multi-purpose aircraft with its primary mission being ground attack and the secondary role being air combat and training for fighter pilots. AVIC says that the aircraft can perform reconnaissance and electronic warfare tasks, for which it can be equipped with the relevant mission equipment or pods.

The FTC-2000 has roots in the JL-9, the latest mutation of the Chinese derivative of the Soviet-built MiG-21 twin-seat operational trainer.

The new version features a reworked canopy with improved glass and an extended field of view, and the wing was inherited from the second-generation of the Chinese MiG-21 clones, featuring a higher degree of sweep closer to the fuselage and a medium degree of sweep for the outer section.

The wing comes with leading edge slats that drop downwards at slow speeds for delay of stall and for better handling, although the biggest departure from the original design is the introduction of side air intakes, which replaced a nose inlet with a central body protruding from it.

The JL-9 was developed at the turn of the century to meet the PLAAF requirement for a supersonic jet trainer but lost the competition to the Hongdu L-15. Even though the PLAAF declared the JL-9 operational in 2015, the customer procured only a handful of deliverable airframes. Apparently, its role is limited to pilot training for those units that still fly the older-generation fighters—such as the J-7 and J-8—in anticipation of repopulating with more modern types.

To save the program, the manufacturer developed the FTC-2000, which, while regaining two seats in a tandem layout, was intended for ground attack and interception of air intruders. This version was also exportable.

From time to time, the FTC-2000 appeared at airshows and still remains on offer, and it includes recently introduced optoelectronic pods and containers that expand the use of the aircraft, especially via the use of air-launched guided munitions, which are now mass-produced by the Chinese defense industry.

The number of underwing weapon stations in the G-model has increased from four to six, enabling carriage of up to three tons of air-launched munitions including missiles and guided bombs.

The engine remains the same (the legacy Liming WP-7/WP-13F series), and a bigger wing resulted in the maximum Mach number dropp from 1.5 to 1.2, and service ceiling by one kilometer down to 15 km (nearly 50,000 feet).

While the maximum flight endurance remained unchanged at three hours, range rose by one hundred kilometers to 2,500 km (1,350 nm).

Although customers for the FTC-2000 are yet to present themselves, it is widely believed that these might come from the African countries that cannot necessarily afford alternative contemporary fighters.