Images have emerged on Chinese online forums showing a Hongdu Aviation Industry Group JL-10 aircraft (manufacturer’s designation L-15) featuring the standard camouflage and tail insignia of the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF): an indication that a naval variant of the advanced trainer has entered service.
Published on 8 September on the Chinese CJDBY website, the images appear to confirm previous media reports stating that the tandem-seat trainer would become the second modern training platform to be operated by the Chinese navy alongside the JL-9H.
Hongdu’s 65th anniversary celebration, which was televised in May, included strong indications the twin-turbofan-powered JL-10 could be adopted by the PLAN and developed to include a carrier version.
However, some Chinese sources have expressed doubts, with a 26 May report published on the Guancha website noting that the design of the JL-10’s rear fuselage may not be strong enough to support a tail hook for arrested carrier landings.
So far it seems that the JL-10s operated by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), and now the PLANAF, both use the same non-afterburning turbofans, which probably limit the aircraft to subsonic speeds.
That said, the May 2017 revelation that two afterburning turbofans – most likely to be Ivchenko-Progress AI-222-25Fs – have been installed in an L-15B raises the possibility that a supersonic version of the JL-10 could be adopted by the navy.
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