Latest footages from China Central Television showed that the PLA is using the Guizhou JL-9 (Jiaolian-9) jet trainer for its naval pilots to practice aircraft carrier landing. The two-seater trainer aircraft is seen fitted with a under-fuselage tail arresting hook for landing on the simulated carrier deck on the land. However, the mediocre performance of the aircraft means that it may not be able to take off from the carrier deck without a major upgrade on its powerplant.
Also known as FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle (Shanying) in its export name, the JL-9 was developed by the Guizhou Aviation Industry Group Co. (GAIGC) as a successor to the ageing JJ-7 (MiG-21U Mongol-A) fighter-trainer. The aircraft made its maiden flight in December 2003, and has entered service with the PLA Air Force since 2007 in a small number. The aircraft was also being actively promoted to the export market but received no order.
The JL-9 is a tandem two-seat, single-engine jet trainer. Its fuselage was based on that of the JJ-7, but with a redesigned solid nose and lateral air intakes. The aircraft has a pair of two-section wings, with sweep angle of the inner section larger than the outer section. Two pilot seats are located in tandem in the cockpit, with the rear seat higher than the front seat to give better view. The cockpit canopy opens to the right side. An in-flight refuelling probe can be installed on the starboard side of the cockpit. There are five external hardpoints (one under fuselage and four under wings), capable of carrying up to 2,000kg weapon payloads, including short-range air-to-air missiles and rocket launders and bombs.
In order to allow carrier-based operations, the naval variant JL-9 received some modifications including removing the original under-tail stabilising fin in order to accommodate the tail arresting hook, and strengthened landing gears. The JL-9 is powered by a WP-13F(C) turbojet engine, which is rather obsolete by any standard. This shortcoming could hinder the aircraft’s ability for taking-off over a short-distance on the carrier deck.