The J-10C — the upgrade version of China's J-10 fighter, designed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group — may be able to catch up with the American F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and surpass most of its European counterparts.
China is still unable to fully compete against the United States, Russia and France in developing 4.5-generation fighters, but the advanced fighters are important for the People's Liberation Army Air Force and Navy Air Force to fill the gap before fifth-generation stealth fighters — such as the J-20 and J-31 — are ready for service.
Many of China's neighbors have equipped their military forces with 4.5-fighters since 2005 when the Republic of Korea Air Force received its first 60 F-15K Slam Eagle. Singapore began to receive F-15SG Strike Eagles in 2008, while Australia got its F/A-18E/F in 2009. India and Malaysia have also purchased the Russian-built Su-30MKI and Su-30MKM. Since 2012, Russia also deployed Su-30SM and Su-35s to the Chinese border.
China is around 15 years behind the United States and 12 years behind some European powers in the development of 4.5-fighters, the report said, adding this is the reason why a J-10C 4.5-generation fighter is needed for China to replace both the J-10A and J-10B in the future. Equipped with active phased array radar and avionic system similar to the J-20, the Sina Military Network stressed that the J-10C can be more powerful than the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale.
China will also develop the J-15B based on its J-15 carrier-based fighter. The report said that both the J-10C and J-15B can be as powerful as the US F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Both fighters are estimated to begin their service with the PLA Air Force and Navy Air Force by 2016. Meanwhile, most of China's fighters in 2020 will be 4.5-generation fighters, while the fifth generation fighters will begin their service with front line units as well.