Going away from the naval coverage for a second, this week we probably had one of the bigger events for PLA watchers.

Back in December, we heard about J-10B (which is the improved variant of J-10) taking off for the first time. So in the past week, we apparently got the first set of images for this plane. A lot of people may ask what’s the big deal here. Well, the problem is that much of the Western media has been inflating the story of Russian military imports to China in the past 15 years. For PLAAF, I don’t think I’ve read any report without talking about Su-27s and Su-30s that China bought. As significant as those are, the reality is that none of those planes are anywhere near as important to PLAAF as J-10. And this also explains why China waited until 2006 before unveiling the plane and did not give US permission to see J-10 even though they got permission to see and talk to the pilots of flankers + fly JH-7A. As early as 2005, we started receiving stories about J-10 crushing flankers in PLAAF’s own red vs blue exercises. So, J-10B is supposed to be the one major fighter that bridges the gap between J-10A and the 5th generation plane currently under development at CAC. They say that it is suppose to be a more multi-role plane, but I think that it is still going to be the premier air superiority plane in PLA. When DoD, USAF and private organizations like RAND run their simulations, they really should use this plane instead of Su-27s.

I’ve delayed posting these pictures, because it is very unclear and many people thought it looked to be PSed from previous photos. But I think these pictures have lasted long enough to have validity. And in many ways, I think the picture actually was pretty much what I expected it to be. You can see J-10B in the photos:

Now, we also see a comparison someone made between J-10 and J-10B

The differences look to be:

  1. A long nose probe, although this is probably just for this development stage
  2. The nose is now oval shape rather than round shape, this leads to speculation that this is built for an AESA radar, which I would agree with. It’s pretty obvious that AESA radar is intended for this plane, although I’m not sure where NRIET is on mass production of T/R modules
  3. DSI Intake instead of the old variable inlet
  4. IRST in front of the canopy
  5. Holographic HUD
  6. Longer vertical stabilizer
  7. A little ECM housing on top of the vertical stabilizer
  8. The removal of the blade antenna on the spine
  9. The two rear ventral fins are extended
  10. The exhaust looks slightly different

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