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.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
57.4 ft (17.50 m)
34.1 ft (10.40 m)
13.6 ft (4.15 m)
17,637 lb (8,000 kg)
25,706 lb (11,660 kg)
+8,069 lb (+3,660 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Shenyang J-13 production variant)
1 x Woshan WS-6 OR WP-15 turbofan engine developing at least 26,455lb of thrust with afterburning.
The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.
Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.