In late October, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group will sell 24 of its new-generation Jian-10 (J-10) fighter aircraft to Iran in a contract valued at $1 billion. The Moscow-based daily received the information from a source inside HESA--a division of the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing consortium. This would be the first purchase of a new-generation combat system by the Iranian air force since the early 1990s. (China's state-run Xinhua news agency denounced the story as "false and irresponsible" and denied that there have been any negotiations, but did not outright deny the sale.)
Last week, the Paris-based defense and strategy publication TTU reported that China is planning to supply the J-10 to Syria as well. The Chengdu fighter would replace an aging arsenal of Russian aircraft largely acquired by Damascus during the Soviet era. Intelligence on the growing cooperation between Syria and Iran indicates that Tehran will finance this Syrian procurement. Having the two allied nations operate the same front-line fighter aircraft will create economies of scale, for instance by allowing maintenance and servicing facilities to be shared.
Russia's connection to the J-10 and the reason for the report originating from Kommersant is that the J-10s are powered by the AL-31FN jet engine built by the Salyut Production Association in Moscow, generally considered to be the most advanced military engine manufacturer in Russia. Chinese industry has struggled but failed to develop a reliable, high-performance jet engine. Both of China's new-generation fighters--the J-10 and the FC-1/JF-17--are powered with Russian engines.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Know Your Enemies
Talk about your axis of evil; from the November 19th Weekly Standard: