|This page is about the Chinese jet fighter J-7E. For other MiG-21 versions, see MiG-21 (Family).|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The J-7E (Chinese: 歼-7E型歼击机; unified NATO codename: Fishcan) is a heavily-modified model of the MiG-21 series and one of the current support fighters of the PLAAF. The design of a double-delta J-7 was demanded not only by foreign customers, but also by the PLAAF themselves, where the jet would be the replacement of the bulk of J-6s in PLAAF service by late 1980s, as well as a way to earn foreign exchanges to fund the Project No.10 (J-10). Although being quite obsolete in today's standards, the jet is still rather cheap to operate and equipped with relatively advanced IR AAMs to deliver sudden strikes on foes, as well as a makeshift "lead-in" trainer for pilots before they operate newer jets.
Introduced in Update "Red Skies", the J-7E offers a very different way to upgrade a Fishbed from the Soviet approach - not only does it have a more powerful engine and additional fuel, it also comes with the iconic double-delta wing with slats, making it a formidable competitor in terms of overall manoeuvrability and especially at lower speeds, which no Soviet Fishbed can ever offer. With its newer PL-5B missile and large countermeasure capacity, the J-7E can prove its abilities over its competitors and use its amazing manoeuvrability to dominate close-quarters engagements in the hands of a good pilot even facing more competent foes.
The J-7E's airframe looks similar to the J-7II aside from the double delta wings, having a small nose and a thin fuselage spine like the early MiG-21F-13 the J-7II was developed from. This contrasts with the Soviet MiG-21s, where from the MiG-21PFM onward, the noses and fuselage spines were enlarged to house search radars and hold additional fuel, respectively. To compensate for the increased weight and aerodynamic penalties, Soviet designers installed increasingly powerful engines. Even though the J-7E's new WP-13F (reverse engineered R-13-300 with some newer technologies) engine lags behind the MiG-21SMT and MiG-21bis's engines in terms of maximum thrust, the J-7E actually weighs less than the MiG-21MF and can make the most of its engine power. The acceleration and climb are not on the level of the legendary MiG-21bis but still competitive for a top rank fighter.
Thanks to the new engine and the slat-equipped double-delta wings, the J-7E has one of the most impressive manoeuvrability among all the current top-tier aircraft. The turn time is a whopping 29 seconds even when stock in RB, leaving most its competitors (other than F-5 family) behind by at least 3 seconds. Low-speed manoeuvrability and high-speed energy retention are greatly improved, addressing long-standing issues with the Fishbed family and presenting a pleasant surprise to new pilots. It is possible to make sustained high-G turns at above 1,000 km/h IAS without losing much airspeed at all and maintain good nose authority during spiral climbs or dogfights at near-stall speeds. The slats still work at 900 km/h, which helps with gun snapshots or missile leading at high speeds. The wing loading is lower than most contemporaries other than the J35D and Mirage IIIC, which feature full tailless delta wings. The J-7E is very solid in close combat and can compete with Mirages and F-5s while dancing around heavier aircraft like Phantoms.
|Characteristics|| Max speed
(km/h at 12,000 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear||Drogue chute|
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 650||< 600||< 790||-|
|Engine name||Number||Wing loading (full fuel)|
|Shenyang Liming WP-13F||1||5,712 kg||310 kg/m2|
|Engine characteristics||Mass with fuel (no weapons load)|| Max Takeoff|
|Weight (each)||Type||8m fuel||20m fuel||27m fuel|
|1,200 kg||Afterburning axial-flow turbojet||6,306 kg||7,176 kg||7,692 kg||9,500 kg|
|Thrust to weight ratio @ 0 m (WEP)|
|Condition||100%||WEP||8m fuel||20m fuel||27m fuel||MTOW|
|Stationary||4,100 kgf||6,666 kgf||1.06||0.93||0.87||0.70|
|Optimal|| 4,100 kgf
| 7,132 kgf
Survivability and armour
The J-7E comes with a 10 mm plate behind pilot's head and a 16 mm plate behind the ejection seat. While it doesn't prove to be much of a concern of cannons, it does help to stop some smaller-calibre gunfire. There is also a 60 mm windshield that is durable enough to take some shots than all the remaining part of the aircraft. The armour still doesn't count for much considering that top-tier aircraft primarily rely on missiles and tend to have very powerful guns, so avoid being hit.
Modifications and economy
|CCIP (Guns)||CCIP (Rockets)||CCIP (Bombs)||CCRP (Bombs)|
The J-7E is armed with:
- 1 x 30 mm Type 30-1 cannon, belly-mounted (60 rpg)
- 72 x countermeasures
Because the addition of a new fuel tank to the lower left side of the aircraft and compensation for the weight of newer missiles, unlike its predecessor, the J-7E has only a single Type 30-1 cannon on the starboard side. It does have good ballistics and firepower (a few hits will rip apart most aircraft), but for pilots without good aiming skills the stingy 60-round ammo capacity will be very painful. Experienced pilots may prefer it over the 23 mm cannon used by most Soviet Fishbeds due to its accuracy and stopping power. In SB, the J-7E comes with a HUD and the ranging radar is linked to it, making it somewhat useful to track down enemies and gun them down with a bit more precision. However, pilots do need to compensate the offset of the starboard gun and aim a bit towards the left when shooting at closer ranges.
Belt selection is largely up to personal taste but the "Armoured Targets" belt is generally the most consistent, often dealing hefty kinetic damage to enemy aircraft. The APHE rounds have decent penetration but it is not advised to use the gun against ground targets in mixed battles; they can be effective against thinly armoured targets, but the limited ammunition should be reserved for aircraft and going on gun runs is very dangerous against top-tier SPAA vehicles.
The J-7E can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
|250 kg 250-3 bombs||1||1||1||1|
|250 kg 250-4 bombs||1||1||1||1|
|500 kg 500-3 bombs||1||1|
|500 kg 500-4 bombs||1||1|
|Type 90-1 rockets||7||7||7||7|
|Type 130-2 rockets||4||4||4||4|
|Default weapon presets|
The J-7E has a lot of ordnance options to choose from. The PL-5B is the first competitive missile available to any PLAAF fighter in War Thunder and is a strong selling point of the J-7E compared to its predecessors. It has a 30 G overload, a wide acquisition radius, and strong acceleration, making it one of the most effective rear-aspect missiles in War Thunder. The absence of launch limiter on the PL-5B means that you can fire as soon as the target is within the acquisition radius. The J-7E lacks any radar-guided or all-aspect missiles and cannot surprise targets in head-on engagements.
The J-7E's ordnance improvements are not limited to air-to-air combat. For ground attack, it has access to 250 kg and 500 kg bombs like the J-7II, but it now uses much improved Type 90-1 and Type 130-2 rockets as seen on the Q-5A instead of the weak 57 mm HF-5 rockets. The 90 mm Type 90-1 rockets are equivalents of the US FFAR rockets and nothing special. The 130 mm Type 130-2 rockets have HE warheads and direct impacts will easily dispatch light tanks and SPAAs. Against top-tier MBTs, accurate hits to the turret and hull roof armour will work the best, as side impacts can be inconsistent. The J-7E's ballistic computer makes it much easier to aim the rockets accurately.
The J-7E can also carry 250 kg and 500 kg bombs. The ballistic computer's CCIP and CCRP functionality allows them to be used to good effect in mixed battles in the absence of enemy air defense.
Usage in battles
The J-7E is something like a hybrid between a MiG-21 and an F-5 in terms of flight performance and role. It obviously is an evolution of the Fishbed and enjoys many of the MiG-21's strengths in top speed, acceleration, and climb. At the same time, the new design corrects many of the MiG-21's vices and it ends up being a very nimble dogfighter that can turn well and maintain its energy like an F-5. This gives it flexibility in terms of how to approach combat. At the beginning of a match, the J-7E can sideclimb and make its way to medium or high altitude, then cruise into battle at supersonic speeds. Distracted targets at similar altitudes are prime missile targets. When it is time to join the furballs below, the J-7E can swoop in on vulnerable targets and put its agility to use.
Gunning straight into battle at lower altitudes from the start of a match, which is customary for Fishbeds, is also an option. Start to "patrol" for anyone who is possibly in their tunnel vision (where a person has only a little FOV due to his speed), then go ahead and assault them with your powerful PL-5B AAMs. They can make short work of the enemies with their 30G overload and excellent acceleration. If you only have PL-2s, which are barely better than no missiles, or even worse, only the cannon left, be very cautious on when should you fire a burst or launch the missiles. If you wasted the chance, pilots could meet their demise pretty quick if your team is on the disadvantage. And it should be reminded that unless really necessary or it is one-on-one dual with your enemy, in most cases do not dogfight for very long times to avoid presenting a slow and easy target for outside enemies to pick off. But if you have to, bleed the opponent's energy as much as you could: your higher thrust-to-weight ratio and double-delta shine here, assisting in getting on the enemy's six and staying there.
The new PL-5B introduced to the PLAAF arsenal can on paper pull 30G upon its targets, which makes it extremely efficient when dueling with enemies who are not paying enough attention. But all this come at a price: you only have the starboard Type 30-1 cannon as the last ditch weapon, and thus you have only 60 rounds just like the original MiG-21F-13. Players who have experience with the J-6A and J-7II should have a good idea of the cannon's ballistics, but the off-center placement may take some getting used to. In this case, pilots should pick enemies who have recently manoeuvred, then go straight upon them and aim a bit to the left to compensate the gun's placement; a burst from 30 mm can tear down anything that flies with some precision.
Countermeasures and a radar warning receiver allow the J-7E to have good defensive capabilities, but the aircraft only has a ranging radar instead of a proper search radar. This means that the RWR is the primary source of information on enemy positions besides the in-game spotting mechanic. Remember that some aircraft like the F-5C do not have a radar at all and those that do can still turn their radar search off to preserve stealth. The J-7E does not have any radar guided missiles and the primitive radar is not relevant during active combat.
Enemies worth noting
- F-5 series: F-5s are always a tough enemy to deal with due to its smaller size and above average manoeuvrability, making him the arch-enemy of J-7E. But thanks to your overall higher thrust-to-weight ratio and double-delta, you can still do some dogfight with him but be caution with your next step: one small wrong move can mean your quick demise. The best solution to handle F-5s are your PL-5Bs, if they are careless enough, they will not have the chance to fly back to the airfield since they have already been shattered by the explosive mass of the missile. If missile is not an option, keep as fast as you could and leave the airspace for another attack run; only hitting him when the tides of battle really allows you to do so.
- Mirage III series: they have the infamous Magic R.550 and Matra R530 at their disposal and these missiles can send anything that flies back to the hangar with ease. Their high angle of attack also worth mentioning since they can still sacrifice some more speed in the short run and hit you with the cannons. In this case, keep your speed, try to bleed their energy and avoid their Magics with flares, without them, the J-7E with its higher acceleration and energy retention can duel the Mirage III with relative ease.
- J35D: Currently the only other fighter in War Thunder with a double-delta wing, the Draken has incredibly low wing loading, a good thrust-to-weight ratio, and powerful RB24J missiles that are functionally identical to AIM-9Js. Its missiles are not quite as potent as the Magics used by the Mirages, but the plane can pull off some very impressive manoeuvres, so be cautious when dogfighting with a Draken for the first few turns and be prepared to drop flares if necessary. The Draken's design is a double edged sword however, because the entire aircraft being a lifting body means that it acts like an enormous airbrake during hard turns, losing immense speed. The tailed double-delta configuration of the J-7E is more balanced and its superior energy retention will give a careful pilot the upper hand in an extended engagement. The J35D also lacks flares, is a large target, and has an even more awkward gun placement than the J-7E, so it's not particularly threatening when its speed is gone.
- F-4 Phantoms: Other than the F-4C: All top-tier Phantoms are large, bulky planes that will suffer heavily in a dogfight with the J-7E, but they are fast and may be able to outrun the J-7E and other Fishbeds at low altitude courtesy of their higher rip speeds (less so for the FGR/FG if they are carrying gun pods). Careful Phantom pilots will maintain their energy and repeatedly sling missiles at the J-7E while avoiding dogfights, and they also carry plenty of flares to avoid return fire from PL-5Bs. The British Phantoms boast pulse-doppler radars that can guide AIM-7 Sparrows against ground clutter while staying at high altitude. The J-7E has a radar warning receiver and an impressive supply of countermeasures for a light fighter, so long range Sparrow shots can be detected and evaded, but such launches are still annoying to deal with and can wear down the J-7E. Coordinate with teammates, trash their Sparrow shots to force them to switch to short-range IR missiles, and bait them into close quarters engagements where the J-7E excels. The German F-4F lacks radar-guided missiles despite being otherwise modern, so it is less of a threat.
- JA37C Viggen: Another very iconic jet from Sweden and it is among the most advanced and manoeuvrable jets; the first mass-produced jet that ever comes with a canard. With one of the highest climb rate thanks to its aerodynamic design and powerful engine, as well as an advanced radar with look-down capabilities, this jet among with Phantoms are tough targets to engage. So a good way to avoid quick demise from their Skyflash missiles is to stay as low as you could, where its radar couldn't detect with ease, and try to take a detour behind the enemy lines where they will be concentrated on your teammates, then strike them when they are unaware of it. If that is not the case and you have gone into a dogfight with it, do not head-on as you are a piece of cake to Skyflash. Keep also your speed and manoeuvres in check, bite on its tail as much as you can, since there's a risk for the J-7E to overshoot and get shot by the Viggen's 30 mm cannons.
- MiG-23 (Family): The family of late Warsaw Pact variable-swept wing aircraft in-game, the Floggers, have a higher thrust than J-7E does and it does come with better avionics and head-on capable R-60M missiles (MiG-23M and MiG-27M) which can make short work of careless players. The R-24T on the MiG-23MLD are also worth mentioning as they have quite a long radius, are IRST-guided and won't trigger your RWR. But the good news is that in many cases, if the enemy player didn't pay enough attention to tailing J-7E, they are still easy preys to your missiles or sometimes your 30 mm cannons, with such a large airframe, hits can be achieved with ease; but do note that some experienced players will manually control the swept angle of the wings and keep in dogfight for quite a while.
- F-16 (Family) All F-16s are extremely powerful opponents and your perfect counter, having a strong PD radar and AIM-7Ms being able to destroy you easily even from long ranges without a proper care, and the AIM-9L with a high burning time and G tolerance for an IR missile
- To defeat the AIM-7M, try to estimate his position by the missile's trails and your RWR, and go on a defensive with the proper use of chaff and notching the enemy's radar to make the radar lose track and so will the missile.
- In short to medium ranges, the AIM-9L would be used, but can be easily fooled by flares, with the low heat emission of the J-7E helping as well. However, the AIM-9L can reach long ranges, and so your situational awareness has to be redoubled if an F-16 is near to make sure they don't catch you unaware.
- In dogfight scenarios, it can be very tricky to win against one decent pilot, always try to pull a F-16 to high speeds to make their controls "compress" by their fly-by-wire system and limiting the turning/rolling capacity, and always forcing a scissors in this short period of time, but never trying to do an extended rate fight in a considerable time, because that's the true advantage the F-16 has over you, and try to leave this scissors in case of disadvantage and repeating that same tactic with enough speed
- The F-16 has a radar leading computer for its M61 Vulcan cannon. As the Vulcan is already well known for a high accuracy, muzzle velocity, fire rate and damage, the leading computer turns the canon into a deadly point-and-click weapon. Try to fly more unpredictably to make it hard for the enemy to get a good aim, as well as avoid being radar-locked for the leading computer to get an aiming solution.
- The J-7E also has a radar gunsight, giving it the ability to lock the missile automatically at the enemy even in short ranges, and thanks to the extreme acceleration, G-tolerance and wide seeker of the PL-5B, it's possible to catch people by surprise even less than 1 km and with their reaction time being almost null.
Pros and cons
- New engines with higher thrust and overall acceleration thanks to the lighter weight than Soviet MiG-21s
- Unique double-delta wings that gives impressive manoeuvrability and energy retention at its tier
- Multifunctional HUD and full ballistic computer functionality
- Comes with extremely advanced RWR and 72 countermeasures
- PL-5B missiles can make very short work of your enemies with their 30G overload and long boost time
- Good selection of ground attack weaponry, including powerful 130 mm rockets and 500 kg bombs
- Single gun on starboard with only 60 rounds, very challenging to aim
- Lacks a fire-control radar and radar-guided weaponry
- No all-aspect IR missiles
- Missile capacity of 4 is below average
- Engine can be prone to overheat with extended use
The CAC J-7 Fishbed (alternatively called a Fishcan to differentiate from the Soviet built ones) has entered PLAAF service since late 1960s, but due to the political turmoil and lack of documents due to Sino-Soviet split, it was not until the mid-1970s until the J-7II had a steady pace of manufacture. The 4th major revision of this airframe, J-7IV, aka J-7E, can be traced back to the 1980s.
In the early 1980s, Mainland China had better relationships with European countries who seek to open up their military equipment market; thus during these days the older J-7II received a overhaul upgrade coded J-7B (or F-7M in foreign market) with British electronic equipment provided by GEC Marconi; while at the same time Chinese got their hands on a few MiG-21MF from Egypt for upgrading the PLAAF fleet with a faster and radar-equipped aircraft, which later became the J-7C/D. They however failed to meet PLAAF's requirements on low speed dogfight doctrine and only a mere 54 aircraft were manufactured, though they were impressed by the R-13-300 engines on them and thus it became the Shenyang Liming WP-13 engine.
Although all these must be supported with a higher military budget (which wasn't available in the 1980s due to the economic reform) and during the late 1980s, most of the budget went to the later J-10 "Firebird"; while there were the mass of the older Shenyang J-6 fleet that needed replacement and PLAAF was in dire need for a fighter that came with ground-attacking capabilities (even the Shenyang J-8II was among the modified aircraft), so the CAC (Chengdu Aircraft Corp.) decided to made an upgrade on J-7 based on the opinion from foreign users, especially in terms of manoeuvrability .
Thus, the J-7IV (that later became the J-7E) program started in 1987 and by May 1991, it made its first flight and 2 years later it came into PLAAF commission.
The main improvement was the manoeuvrability, with the new WP-13 engine and the iconic double-delta designed by Northwestern Polytechnical University (西北工业大学 in Xi'an, Shaanxi) with a slat that can be lowered to 25° (and in fact the first PRC fighter with slats) that really helped its manoeuvrability - in a PLAAF's exercise in 1993, it was concluded that it was 43% better than older J-7II, as well as longer range with additional fuel tanks at the cost of giving up the port side cannon due to decreasing usage of cannons. Other improvements included additional pair of pylon, domestic avionics with a HUD, as well as some of the cockpit gauges were digital.
These 260 J-7Es built from 1994 to 2001 became the gap filler for PLAAF in the struggling days during the heat of 2nd Taiwan Strait Crisis; in 2006, based on the later F-7PG that came with an Italian radar (later domestic radar); the ultimate Fishbed of Mainland China- the J-7G came into service, with HMDs and latest avionics. Both serving as a supplementary jets to frontline airfields and cheaper solution to fill the gap until newer J-10C and J-11 series replace them.
|Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (中航工业成都飞机工业集团)|
|Jet Fighters||J-7II* · J-7D · J-7E|
|Drones||Wing Loong I|
|*Unlicensed and reverse-engineered version of the MiG-21.|
|See Also||Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau|
|China jet aircraft|
|Fighters||J-2 · J-4 · Shenyang F-5 · J-6A · J-7II · J-7D · J-7E · J-8B · J-8F|
|Strike aircraft||Q-5 early · Q-5A · Q-5L · A-5C|
|American||␗F-84G-21-RE · ␗F-84G-31-RE · ␗F-86F-30 · ␗F-86F-40 · ␗F-100A · ␗F-104A · ␗F-104G · ␗F-5A · ␗F-5E · ␗F-16A MLU|
|Soviet||␗MiG-9 · ␗MiG-9 (l)|