More F-16Cs for Iraq

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Aviation Defence & News -

Asec­ond J-31 pro­to­type built at Chengdu Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion re­port­edly in­cor­po­rates sev­eral changes over the first pro­to­type, PT-1, which flew at the Zhuhai show in 2014, while a third J-31 pro­to­type is also be­ing built. Re­fine­ments have been made to the aero­dy­nam­ics and radar cross sec­tion (RCS), mak­ing it “stealth­ier”, and there is a new avion­ics lay­out, de­scribed as the ‘Ad­vanced Avion­ics Con­cept’. The weapons bay of the sec­ond pro­to­type is larger than the first (which could house four legacy SD-10As), fa­cil­i­tat­ing car­riage of up to six SD-10A BVRAAMs with fold­able fins. The J-31 will even­tu­ally have a Chi­nese en­gine (prob­a­bly the WS-13A) but early air­craft will be pow­ered by the Rus­sian-ori­gin RD-93 as presently in the JF-17 Thun­der. The KLJ-7A AESA radar is be­ing con­sid­ered for the J-31 and is also an op­tion for the Pak­istan Air Force’s Block 3 JF-17s.

The J-31 is be­ing de­vel­oped ex­clu­sively as an air de­fence fighter for the ex­port mar­ket, with the Pak­istan Air Force spec­u­la­tively the first off but AVIC is op­ti­mistic the PLAAF and the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Navy (PLAN) too will also ac­quire th­ese. In an in­ter­view, the J-31’s chief de­signer Sun Cong ex­pressed the hope that the J-31 would fol­low the J-15as a car­rier-borne fighter. How­ever, of­fi­cials from AVIC said that the air­craft was only in­tended for ex­port as a com­peti­tor to the F-35. As for Pak­istan, this coun­try is re­port­edly con­sid­er­ing ac­quir­ing 30-40 J-31s.

Afur­ther four F-16IQs have been de­liv­ered to the Iraqi Air Force, join­ing 9 (Fighter) Squadron. The sin­gle-seat F-16C Block 52s bring the to­tal in coun­try to 14 (eleven F-16Cs and three twin-seat F-16Ds). Mean­while, the Iraqi Air Force is procur­ing an ad­di­tional Lock­heed C-130H Her­cules through the Ex­cess De­fence Ar­ti­cle (EDA) pro­gramme. Cur­rently, the IqAF op­er­ates three C-130E Her­cules, which are also for­mer USAF air­craft, along with six new pro­duc­tion C-130J-30 Su­per Her­cules. Iraq had pre­vi­ously re­quested three ad­di­tional sur­plus Her­cules air­craft from the US DoD.

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