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Shenyang (AVIC) J-13

Air Superiority Fighter Project

The Shenyang J-13 air superiority platform was to place China as a major player on the world stage concerning fighter design - development troubles doomed it.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 11/11/2016
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1975
Manufacturer(s): Shenyang Aircraft Corporation / Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) - China
Production: 0
Capabilities: Fighter; Interception; X-Plane;
Crew: 1
Length: 57.41 ft (17.5 m)
Width: 34.12 ft (10.4 m)
Height: 13.62 ft (4.15 m)
Weight (Empty): 17,637 lb (8,000 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 25,706 lb (11,660 kg)
Power: 1 x Woshan WS-6 OR WP-15 turbofan engine developing at least 26,455lb of thrust with afterburning.
Speed: 1,880 mph (3,025 kph; 1,633 kts)
Ceiling: 62,336 feet (19,000 m; 11.81 miles)
Range: 1,454 miles (2,340 km; 1,263 nm)
Rate-of-Climb: 40,000 ft/min (12,192 m/min)
Operators: China (cancelled)
The Sino-Soviet Split (1960-1989) between communist China and the Soviet Union forced the Asian power to seek internal solutions to its ongoing military requirements - hence programs such as the Chengdu J-9, Nanchang J-12 and Shenyang J-13. The latter entry was based around the concept of a Mach 2-capable single-seat, single-engine fighter of all modern design and capabilities. However, the learning curve for the program - particularly in development of a viable high-performance engine - led to the drawn-out program's cancellation in the early 1990s. The data collected during its course, however, proved invaluable and aided in the design and development of the Chengdu J-10 (detailed elsewhere on this site) which has since been adopted into formal service with the Chinese Air Force.

Origins of the J-13 lay in an early 1970s requirement for a successor to the Shenyang J-6 (detailed elsewhere on this site). The J-6 was nothing more than a locally-produced copy of the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 "Farmer" single-seat jet-powered fighter but provided Chinese aero-industry with extensive experience in manufacture and maintenance of a complex system. Roughly 4,000 of the aircraft were built under the J-6 designation and the fleet saw service well into the new millennium. However, even by 1970s standards, its best days were quickly coming upon it for advances in fighter technology were leaving early-Cold War aircraft to the pages of aviation history.

The 601 Institute of Shenyang Aircraft was hard at work on developing a new aircraft to succeed the type.

This commitment led to several airframes and wing designs being brought forth and tested at length throughout the 1970s. The project advanced some in the middle part of the decade as the electronics and avionics fits were selected but the key detriment proved to be the required powerplant of which Chinese industry only held experience in producing Soviet copies. The WS-9 in question was based on the British Rolls-Royce "Spey" Mk 202 turbofan and this became the initial choice but problems dictated a shift to the WS-6 series turbofan for the interim. The Soviet Tumansky R-29 turbojet was then studied at length but simply could not provide the necessary power. Nevertheless, the Chinese copy of this engine, the WP-15, was to be featured in the new lightweight fighter for lack of better alternatives.

With ongoing development troubles of the engine and a waning interest in the long-gestating project, the aircraft fell by the wayside as more attention was paid to more promising designs. It was not until the middle part of the 1990s that the J-13 initiative was officially laid to rest. The Chengdu J-10 had earned its stripes as the latest Chinese Air Force entry and the J-13 fell to history as a result. Service introduction of this aircraft came in 2005 with some 400 having been built since (2016).

The finalized J-13 was to feature a slim fuselage with mid-set wing mainplanes. The mainplanes were given straight trailing edges and swept leading edges, meeting a short section of wing root at the fuselage sides. A twin side-mounted intake arrangement was to feed the single jet engine installation which exhausted through a single port under the tail. A single vertical tail fin was to sit on the aft-section of the fuselage coupled with low-mounted horizontal planes. The pilot sat aft of a very sharply-pointed nosecone assembly with a raised fuselage spine blocking his vision to the rear of the aircraft. All-modern electronics and avionics were to be fitted and a traditional tricycle undercarriage would be featured. It is assumed the fighter would have been outfitted with a internal cannon and hardpoints (including wingtip mounts) for air-to-air missiles.

Estimated specifications included a maximum speed of Mach 2.45, a combat radius of 2,3450 kilometers and a service ceiling up to 19,000 meters.


1 x Internal cannon

Support for various air-to-air munitions held externally across several under-wing and under-fuselage hardpoints as well as wing tip mountings.

Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile

Variants / Models

• J-13 - Base Series Designation
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