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CAIC FC-20 (J-10CE) Firebird


Lightweight Single-Seat, Single-Engine Multirole Fighter


Pakistan | 2022



"The CAIC FC-20 Firebird of the Pakistan Air Force is nothing more than the export variant of the Chinese J-10 Vigorous Dragon of the PLAAF."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/31/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
FC-20 "Firebird" is the designation applied to Chinese J-10 "Vigorous Dragon" fighter jets in Pakistan Air Force (PAF) service. The specific mark in question is the J-10CE export-minded offering by Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC). The original Chinese design recorded its first-flight on March 23rd, 1998 and entered service in 2005 with now over 600 produced and in circulation. With its own introduction of the aircraft on march 4th, 2022, Pakistan became the first export customer of the series as 14 airframes currently (2023) make up the fleet with a further 22 remaining on order.

Pakistan began talks with the Chinese government on acquiring the series back in 2006 with the original single-seater J-10A (F-10A/FC-20) variant at the forefront. Over the next several years, these discussions continued with the focus now shifted to the more advanced, slightly-modified J-10B of 2011 with its AL-31FN-M1 afterburning turbofan engine. By the end of 2020, the parties began to hammer out a deal covering the evolutionary J-10C (exported as the J-10CE) which built upon the proven framework of the J-10B while being equipped with the WS-10B engine instead. The mark also carried an Imaging InfraRed (IIR) seeker, Active, Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar, and support for both the PL-10 and PL-15 series of Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs). The initial procurement order covered 25 airframes and was in place by the end of 2021.

The first six fighters were subsequently delivered by the end of March of 2022 which resulted in the first standing PAF squadron (No.15 Squadron "Cobras", PAF Base Minhas). In terms of inherent capabilities and design approach, the aircraft is in the same lightweight classification as the American Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon, the French Dassault Rafale, the Russian Mikoyan MiG-35, and the Eurofighter Typhoon - all detailed elsewhere on the Military Factory.

By all accounts, the Pakistani FC-20 retains all of the notable qualities (form and function) of the Chinese J-10. A delta-wing planform makes up the mainplanes and canards are seated ahead of midships to maximize agility. The delta planform means that only a single vertical fin makes up the tailplane arrangement. The single-engine is aspirated by a rectangular inlet located under the cockpit floor and this unit is exhausted by a circular port positioned directly under the tailfin. A wheeled tricycle undercarriage is used for ground-running and this arrangement is comprised of a pair of single-wheeled main legs and a twin-wheeled nose leg.

Internally, the aircraft is powered by the locally-developed Shenyang WS-10B series afterburning FADEC-equipped turbofan engine providing up to 20,050lb thrust dry and 32,000lb thrust with reheat. This gives the jet a maximum speed of Mach 1.8 with a range out to 1,150 miles and a service ceiling of 59,000 feet. Combat range is 770 miles and rate-of-climb reaches 59,000 feet-per-minute.

The aircraft carries a 23mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23 internal cannon as standard and has eleven external hardpoints for missiles, Precision-Guided Bombs (PGBs), dumb bombs, rocket pods, and mission pods allowing the single fighter to undertake a myriad of sortie types including air defense, direct-attack, anti-radar, and infiltration missions. Up to three drop tanks can be mounted extended the overall operational range of the fighter.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the CAIC FC-20 (J-10CE) Lightweight Single-Seat, Single-Engine Multirole Fighter.
1 x Shenyang WS-10B afterburning turbofan engine developing 20,050lb of dry thrust and 32,000lb of thrust with reheat.
Propulsion
1,381 mph
2,222 kph | 1,200 kts
Max Speed
897 mph
1,444 kph | 780 kts
Cruise Speed
59,006 ft
17,985 m | 11 miles
Service Ceiling
1,150 miles
1,850 km | 999 nm
Operational Range
59,000 ft/min
17,983 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the CAIC FC-20 (J-10CE) Lightweight Single-Seat, Single-Engine Multirole Fighter.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
55.4 ft
16.90 m
O/A Length
32.2 ft
(9.80 m)
O/A Width
18.7 ft
(5.70 m)
O/A Height
21,495 lb
(9,750 kg)
Empty Weight
30,865 lb
(14,000 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the CAIC FC-20 (J-10CE) Firebird Lightweight Single-Seat, Single-Engine Multirole Fighter provided across 11 hardpoints.
STANDARD:
1 x Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23 internal automatic cannon.

SUPPORTED:
Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs), Air-to-Surface Missiles (ASMs), anti-radiation missiles, Precision-Guided Bombs, conventional drop bombs, and 90mm rocket pods. Provision for 3 x Jettisonable fuel tanks for increased operational ranges.


X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Hardpoints Key:


Centerline
Wingroot(L)
Wingroot(R)
Wing
Wingtip
Internal
Not Used
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the CAIC FC-20 (J-10CE) Firebird family line.
FC-20 "Firebird" - Base Series Designation; based in the Chinese J-10CE export form of the J-10 series.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the CAIC FC-20 (J-10CE) Firebird. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 12 Units

Contractor(s): Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIC) / Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) - China
National flag of Pakistan

[ Pakistan ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 1400mph
Lo: 700mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (1,381mph).

Graph Average of 1,050 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
12
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 1
Image of the CAIC FC-20 (J-10CE) Firebird
Image of a Chinese Chengdu J-10 from the Chinese MoD; Public Release.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
AIR-TO-AIR COMBAT
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Similar
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the CAIC FC-20 (J-10CE) Firebird Lightweight Single-Seat, Single-Engine Multirole Fighter.
Going Further...
The CAIC FC-20 (J-10CE) Firebird Lightweight Single-Seat, Single-Engine Multirole Fighter appears in the following collections:
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