China’s first batch of pilot cadets in the JL-10 advanced jet trainer have set the bar high for those who will follow, China Military Online reported.
Every single cadet in the class of 2020 graduated from the Shijiazhuang Flight Academy under the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in early July, according to Military Leak online.
The PLAAF initiated its new training program based on the third-generation JL-10, in a bid to shorten the training period of pilot cadets and to promote their familiarization with the equipment for future combat.
After one year’s training, the batch of pilot cadets “completed all the prescribed training subjects and achieved excellent exam results,” the report said.
Compared with predecessors, their per capita consumption of airborne ammunition has doubled under the same flight duration.
According to China Military Online, the grads have been assigned to new units, and will carry out combat flight training after necessary adaptation training.
The JL-10 meets the PLAAF’s and People’s Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF) lead-in fighter trainer requirements, as well as next-generation training and light combat needs for foreign customers, the report said.
Analysts say its basic air combat capabilities and low cost (US$10 million-$15 million) make it ideal for countries facing a low threat air defense environment.
The Hongdu JL-10, also known as the L-15 Falcon in fighting form, is a supersonic advanced training and light combat aircraft being developed by Nanchang-based Hongdu Aviation Industry Corporation.
The aircraft’s general designer is Zhang Hong, and development was reportedly completed alongside Yakovlev OKB of Russia.
The JL-10 is a direct rival to the Guizhou Aircraft Industry Corporation JL-9/FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle in competition for the PLAAF’s next-gen advanced trainer program.
According to Popular Science, the JL-10/L-15 planes have a maximum takeoff weight of 9.5 tons and use a three-axis fly-by wire system that helps simulate the flight parameters of most modern fighters.
The Ukrainian Ivchencko AI-222K-25F turbofan engines on its supersonic JL-10 version pushes it to a speed of Mach 1.4.
It has tandem seating for two people; the student pilot in the front seat, and the instructor in the back, Popular Science reported.
The advanced avionics on the JL-10 also helps student pilots prepare for the complex digital cockpits on modern Chinese fighters, especially the J-20.
In addition to its training mission, the JL-10 comes equipped with a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar that can be used in long-range air-to-air combat, and its three-ton payload can be configured for air superiority and counterinsurgency missions, Popular Science reported.