During the 2012 China Airshow (Nov. 13-17) in Zhuhai, AVIC unveiled two models of the FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle (Shanying) fighter trainer/attack aircraft. The FTC-2000 is an export variant of the Guizhou JL-9. The two models show that AVIC has made major improvements to the aircraft since 2001 when revelations surfaced that a development program was underway to replace the JJ-7 fighter-trainer.
The original FTC-2000, according to the Zhuhai brochure, “can accomplish advanced training of the pilot, conversion training of the 3rd generation fighter and combat training of modified F-7 and F-8 series aircraft and possesses certain combat capability.”
However, the brochure of the new FTC-2000G (G=modified), adds reconnaissance capabilities to the list. It states the aircraft is a “light multi-purpose aircraft for meeting the demand of training task of fighter pilot as well as tasks of combat and attack in the international market. It has the characteristics of stable performance, strong function, low price, high benefit-ratio, and can accomplish medium/advanced training, tasks of combat and attack. And it can also fulfill combat area reconnaissance and attack impact evaluation with the reconnaissance pod suspended.”
“FTC-2000G appears the latest effort to keep the venerable J-7 (MiG-21) design line alive and available for export to states with very limited defense budgets,” said Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace, UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“I’ve never been impressed by the FTC-2000, in whatever variant,” said Richard Bitzinger, a defense industry specialist at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.
“It’s an old design (looks like the old Super-7), and getting older by the minute. Yeah, you can put recce pods on it and other things, and I suppose (as a two-seater) you could adapt it for air-to-ground missions,” Bitzinger said. “The Chinese have failed to secure any export sales for the FC-1 (other than Pakistan, which coproduces it), and I have similar skepticism toward the FTC-2000.”
A quick comparison of the technical data reveals the FTC-2000G has more hard points and is heavier, but now has a shorter endurance time. Compare the two brochures below: