PLA Navy use JL-9 for carrier pilot training

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.

7 thoughts on “PLA Navy use JL-9 for carrier pilot training

  1. JL-9 have very short take-off(about 500 meters and how much J-15 have take-off on land) for standard version with “obsolete” engine is that a bad characteristic when you talk about use on carrier where it will use ski-jump takeoff?. I wonder how much it would be take-off from land with modern engine?

    And there is a new version JL-9G(FTC-2000G) G stands for modified and that is a version on your picture and you should refer to that version when talking in this article it has DSI among other modifications and it can have 9 external hard-points.

    More info on FTC-2000G

    1. A key factor to measure whether a plane can take off from aircraft carrier is the thrust-to-weight ratio. The normal take-off weight of the JL-9 is 7,800-8,000kg. Its single WP-13F turbojet can only produce 43kN dry or 63kN with afterburning. A simple math calculation shows that the thrust-to-weight ratio of the JL-9 is only in the region of 0.55 to 0.80. To give you some ideas: the maximum thrust-to-weight ratio of some modern carrier-based fighters are: MiG-29K is 1.00, Su-33 is 1.36, F-18E/F is 1.55. So it doesn’t really matter how short the JL-9’s take-off distance is on land, its engine simply cannot accelerate the aircraft fast enough over the short distance on carrier deck, especially when you don’t have a catapult. So I’m pretty sure that the JL-9 can only be used for simulated landing practice but not taking-off.

  2. It is not distance for landing but on take-off that I gave(less then 500 meters)) and it is not everything in thrust to weight ratio(I agree that is important but not exclusive important) something is in aerodynamics:)

    If only counting trust and weight ratio then what is criteria what is minimal ratio to not take off from carrier and what ratio for take-off- there is no such a thing. Thrust-to-weigh ratio of E-2C Hawkaye is 0.32 kW / kgm, A-7 Corsair II is 0.50, T-2 Buckeye 0.43, A-6 Intruder only about 0.30 with max weight(and all of them where successfully tested to take-off from ski jump) and where is that counting in your mathematics when talking about carriers that only thrust to weight counts. Harrier GR9 have 0.78 and can fly from jump ski carrier and has STOVL capabilities. Lockheed S-3 Viking was only among planes when research was done by US Navy for potential making of small Carrier with 0.353 ratio that would not be able to take-off from ski jump.

    I previously in my post before this just wanted to give you some example that more broader view is important when talking about possibilities of airplane to take-off from carrier, and if airplane already has some near STOL ability it is easier to adopt it for carrier. it is not only thrust to weight ratio to count.

    There is more factors that contribute to possibilities of aircraft to land or take-off from carrier like Lift-to-drag ratio, climb rate, low stall speed, pitch rates and good stability of airplane, construction characteristics of carrier, carrier speed in moment of take-off, sea conditions, air temperature, angle of ski jump and many more so it is not just simple matter.

    And there is possibility that JL-9G(start explaining or writing article and comments by using proper designation of airplane for start or you are making confusion to readers because you are referring non-stop about JL-9 instead to JL-9G there is no JL-9 for aircraft carrier) will have WP-14 or some more powerful version of WP-13 engine for your information.

    1. E-2C and A-7 would not be able to take off from aircraft carrier without the assistance of catapult. Anyway, as they often say on the Chinese Internet: no photo, no truth. Let’s wait and see whether any photo of the JL-9 (with or without G 🙂 ) taking off from the carrier will come out. My bet is that there won’t be.

  3. There is many Chinese saying my friend how about “A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion” and Gaic will not even read what we are commenting;) because they are wise guys:) but when you comment something try to be clear and stick to official designations or someone may think that Fiat 500 and Fiat 500L is the same car. But for sure we all can tell is that neither Fiat will fly from carrier:)

    I suggest you read more about aerodynamics to learn as I did and I still don’t know much about it and I am learning every day something new in many areas and that is wonderful.

    I wish you to have nice day or night depending on your time zone.

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