Engines screaming, China’s most advanced fighter jets took off, soared into a vertical climb, spun into rolls and veered off into a clear blue sky leaving a trail of smoke and the acrid smell of aviation fuel in its wake.
The 24th Fighter Division of the Chinese Air Force yesterday showed off a formation of its J10 — or Annihilator 10 — to a select group of international military attachés for the first time.
Back on the ground after the demonstration of aerial acrobatics Senior Colonel Yan Feng, commander of the division, gave the 51 attachés their first glimpse of the cockpits and the home-made jet turbines of China’s only indigenous fighters.
It was the second time that China has allowed foreign media onto the base — and the first such trip in eight years. Colonel Yan promised to host more tours as part of a campaign by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to cast off its reputation for secrecy and nurture a more transparent image.
Four jets took part in the 15-minute show, completing a fly-by in diamond formation with their wingtips a mere 5m (16ft) apart and a series of multiple rolls and spins. Colonel Yan even flew his jet in front of the viewing stand with his wheels just 3m off the ground.
Group Captain Stephen Wilson, the British Air Force Attaché, , described the show as impressive. “This is a highly manoeuvrable aircraft.They should not be compared with the Red Arrows, but the Chinese Air Force is very competent and that came through in this performance.”
Colonel Yan was coy when asked about the J11, but said that he hoped to demonstrate the J10 at international air shows as early as next year. “I want to fly with the Thunderbirds,” he joked.
Yeah, I would like to see the J10 against the Thunderbirds' F16C and F16D at the international air shows.