Accordingly, by the end of 2023, the Chinese Air Force will decommission all J-7 fighters in service.

The legendary J-7 fighter, once a mainstay of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force for many years, will be phased out this year, according to China Central Television. Accordingly, by the end of 2023, the Chinese Air Force will decommission all J-7 fighters in service. The Chengdu J-7 is a version of the Soviet MiG-21 fighter jet manufactured under license in China.

The number of aircraft of the type still in service with the PLAAF is also unknown. According to CCTV, the remaining jets could be converted into drones to carry out new missions. The first flight of the J-7 took place on January 17, 1966, 10 years after the maiden flight of the MiG-21, which took off for the first time on February 15, 1956.

The Chinese version, manufactured between 1965 and 2013, had more than 2,400 aircraft delivered. It is worth noting that the Chengdu J-7 fighter is equipped with a Chinese WP-7 engine, a copy of the Soviet R-11F-300 engine. The aircraft was continuously upgraded with advanced technologies and was in production until 2013. In recent years, the J-7 fighter line has been produced exclusively for export.

Currently, the PLAAF’s J-7 is mostly a J-7G variant with superior features compared to the original. They are considered to still fully meet the requirements of modern warfare. According to the Global Times report, the decommissioning of the Chengdu J-7s is due to their replacement with more modern and faster single-engine J-10C fighters and twin-engine heavy fighters of the J-11 and J-16 line.

The J-7G represents the most advanced variant of the J-7 fighter line. It has a much higher rate of composite material usage compared to the first generations. It features an all-glass cockpit, new double delta wings, three multifunctional HUD screens and hands on throttle-and-stick control (HOTAS.) The equipment of a modern fighter has also been added such as: enhanced flight vision system, reduced radar cross-section and improved fuel tank, and additional features of fourth generation fighters.

With a presence in more than 17 countries, including four Indian neighbors: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. The Chengdu J-7 is China’s most exported aircraft. It is noted that after the decommissioning of the J-7 aircraft, its derivative and deeply modified JL-9 trainer aircraft, and FC-1 fighters will continue to be produced.

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