|This page is about the Chinese jet fighter J-8F. For the other version, see J-8B.|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The J-8F (Chinese: 歼-8F型歼击机; unified NATO codename: Finback 长须鲸) was the final combat variant of the J-8 series interceptors, built by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC, 沈飞) from remaining J-8II airframes or by upgrading previous J-8Ds in the mid-2000s. The project traces back to the J-8C (or J-8III) project for domestic avionic upgrades for J-8II: although the unreliable WP-14 engine ruined the whole project, the radar systems were tested rather successfully and marked the completion of a domestic pulse-Doppler radar. By the end of the 20th century, the plans for Project 12 (PL-12) were also on schedule for domestic ARH AAM. Thus the placeholder aircraft, J-8H, with a new radar joined the PLAAF with PL-11 SARH, while the J-8F with a modified radar based on the former radar and new NATO-equivalent FCS main bus was finalised by 2005 and became a cornerstone of the PLAAF until new interceptors replaced them from June 2022.
Introduced in Update "La Royale", the J-8F is the first domestic Chinese jet with a pulse-Doppler-capable radar, featuring new powerful PL-8 AAMs and the ability to mount missiles on all wing pylons. The jet is also upgraded with new engines with higher thrust, new all- RWR systems and the J-8II's signature differential elevators for better roll rate. While it is still unable to equip PL-11 SARH missiles due to incompatible radar equipment, the new PL-8 missile and avionics will not disappoint players.
The J-8F, like any other variant of the J-8 series, can be summarized as "Fishbed on Steroids" where the original design of J-8 series were based on simply putting 2 engines onto an enlarged MiG-21-like airframe. While the J-8F retained the signature delta wing, differential elevators and side intakes from the II series, for better flight performance, the jet is equipped with two new engines with higher thrust and additional pair of wing fence by the outboard of the wings, as well as new RWR systems for better situational awareness. The overall performance is better than its predecessor, the J-8B, in most aspects. Players who have already researched the former would get on hand with the new jet fairly quickly thanks to its identical, if not better manoeuvrability for such a huge jet thanks to its antique yet advanced internal components. It still cannot outturn MiG-29 or F-14s in any cases, but the delta wings will still keep the J-8F in a reasonable turn rate while the engines can ensure prolonged (albeit not suggested) dogfights with even earlier jets that are lighter.
The probability of being hit is proportional to the plane's overall size: this is especially true since the J-8II series have been the longest jets in game (at a whopping 21.93 m, at least 2 m longer than the F-14 series). Its delta wing will bleed the speed at fast rate during high AoA manoeuvres. Be extra careful on when to enter the battlefield and scatter enemy jet formations using its high speed, then turn back to the main battlefield for opportunities to take out lonely enemies or those who are careless about the situation; they will meet a swift end if the high-performance missiles guided by HMD hit them.
|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||< 900||-|
|Engine name||Number||Wing loading (full fuel)|
|Shenyang Liming WP-13B-II||2||9,977 kg||340 kg/m2|
|Engine characteristics||Mass with fuel (no weapons load)|
|Weight (each)||Type||8m fuel||20m fuel||28m fuel|
|1,170 kg||Afterburning axial-flow turbojet||11,273 kg||12,972 kg||14,297 kg||16,745 kg|
|Thrust to weight ratio @ 0 m (WEP)|
|Condition||100%||WEP||8m fuel||20m fuel||28m fuel||MGW|
|Stationary||4,743 kgf||6,967 kgf||1.24||1.07||0.97||0.80|
|Optimal|| 4,812 kgf
| 8,003 kgf
Survivability and armour
Like most jets of its era, the J-8F still retained certain degree of extra protection due to its late introduction in the early 2000s on a rather obsolete airframe. Meanwhile, some standard equipment like self-sealing tanks and bulletproof glass are still present.
Modifications and economy
|CCIP (Guns)||CCIP (Rockets)||CCIP (Bombs)||CCRP (Bombs)||Lead indicator|
The J-8F is armed with:
- A choice between two presets:
- 1 x 23 mm Type 23-3 cannon, belly-mounted (200 rpg)
- 1 x 23 mm Type 23-3 cannon + 64 x large calibre countermeasures
The J-8F can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
|250 kg 250-3 bombs||1||6||1|
|250 kg 250-4 bombs||1||6||1|
|500 kg 500-3 bombs||1||1|
|500 kg 500-4 bombs||1||1|
|Type 90-1 rockets||7||7||7||7|
|Default weapon presets|
For players who are very familiar with the loadouts on the J-8B, most of the available weapons are identical on both jets, with the PL-8 (licensed Rafael Python-3) being the exception. Due to the lack of radar-guided missiles, some players might find this a huge drawback that they will have to get close enough to enemy jets to even launch IR-guided AAMs at the first place. However, the PL-8 is a game-changer for the J-8F; with not only the best all-aspect locking range among NATO equivalents, the J-8F is also equipped with HMD for off-bore launches. A full loadout of 6 x PL-8 can be a nightmare for the enemy team if utilized carefully. The old faithful PL-5B still serves as its stock missiles - although it might be somewhat obsolete at the BR, launches on careless targets can still earn some quick victories.
The ground-attack loadout is totally identical to the J-8B though, with varieties of bombs and rockets at its disposal. Although neither the calibre nor explosive content of the Type 90-1 HEAT rocket is effective for hunting enemy MBTs even with a precise hit, they can still serve as an extra card on hand alongside the -3 series low drag GP bombs or -4 series drag chute retarded bombs. The bombs will certainly be more effective against more valuable targets such as MBTs, while saving rockets for vulnerable SPAA systems and light tanks.
Usage in battles
Like its predecessors, the J-8F is designed to be a high-altitude interceptor that utilize ranges of missiles, especially radar-guided missiles; but due to avionic changes on J-8F, the only missile of such type is the PL-12 which is yet to introduce in future patches. This also eliminates the option to use earlier PL-11 or Aspide-1A SARH AAM from earlier variants of J-8II (J-8B, D and H). For the time being, the only two options are both IR missiles, PL-5B and PL-8. Still, the overall manoeuvrability is still surprisingly good for such a huge jet and retained the similar flight envelope of the late MiG-21 series (MF or bis). To make the best out of the J-8F, unless in dire situation or 1-vs-1, use the J-8F as an interceptor instead of a fighter where its sheer size will be a huge plus for enemy guns to land upon the airframe, ruining the aerodynamics of the jet or being shot down right away.
Air Battles: The High-Speed Missile Train
The sheer size of the jet and its NATO codename of "Finback" could be a problem when there are enemies behind the J-8F's tail. Due to the availability of only IR AAMs, instead of being an interceptor and hunt down high-flyers, doing the opposite, i.e rushing into chaotic battlefield and taking out enemy jets is a viable option as preceded from J-8B. Although having an AN/APG-66V equivalent radar is a major plus for the jet, it's currently more a mean to search BVR targets from long range to plan ahead for a sudden attack or interfere with enemy RWRs to hide oncoming radar-guided missiles from other teammates. Instead, it has another spade on its hand: a HMD fused with the technology from Russia and Israel. Not only it now enables off-bore lock-on to enemy jets, it also has a rather long acquisition range at whopping 5 km. The old friend PL-5B and newcomer PL-8 are the only available missiles for the jet. Even at this tier, the PL-5B still retains its immersive thrust that can take out enemy jets at around 4 km away while having 30 G overload, it is especially dangerous for careless jets which have no situational awareness for the incoming missile; HMD further enhance its acquisition at rear-aspects and making the J-8F able to fire with more flexibility upon enemy targets. While the PL-8 finally enables all-aspect lock on to enemy jets for PLAAF jets, not only it has the most immersive thrust among all NATO/US-allied countries IR AAMs, it also has unprecedented overload at 40 G which is more than enough to do all-aspect launches from unexpected angles at Mach 3.5 max speed thanks to the HMD. There are even occasions where low to high launches with more than 3 km altitude differences can hit targets at 5 km away, given the target didn't manoeuvre. With all 6 pylons available for IR missiles, scoring victories will not be a problem when picking the targets carefully i.e. those not using cycle salvos for flares or those already engaged in heated battles. Another note is that the J-8II series since the J-8D comes with a KJ8602 RWR with all-aspect detection, making players easier to identify threats without having to guess the exact direction.
Alternatively, some players will make use of its high payload to make extra profit against enemy fortifications or bases; eight 250 kg bombs are just enough to destroy a top-tier base with a single run. Just make sure to avoid any enemy jets which are eager to hunt down players who wanted to ruin their bases.
If players used up all their payloads, the remaining option is the Type 23-3 autocannon. While its technological predecessor, GSh-23L is infamous for its rather curved ballistics due to its low muzzle velocity, thanks to the Type 1492 PD radar and new HUD, the jet now enjoys ballistic computer for the gun as well and easier to land shots on enemy jets. While traditional, unassisted aiming is still viable to experienced players, be sure to compensate for the ballistics with more AoA. Most of all, the J-8F is always an interceptor; only use its sufficient manoeuvrability in dire situation or 1-vs-1 dogfights, as the delta wing design is a double-edge sword for the jet.
Ground Battles: The "JH-8"
A little fact to the J-8II series: there were competitions for the new PLAAF strike aircraft in the 1980. While XAC's JH-7 Flying Leopard (Feibao 飞豹; NATO codename Flounder) won the competition, one of the failed options was SAC's JH-8 based on J-8II (the other one was NAMC's Q-6). And in fact J-8II does have sufficient air to ground payload (albeit no guided munition for these operations); there are options to take a mix of 250 kg bombs for multiple targets or 500 kg bombs for higher chance for a knock-out. Since the J-8F could fly at more than 1,300 km/h at sea level, chances are players have to consider which type of bomb to take. The -3 series are low-drag GP bombs while the -4 are drag-chute retard bombs; due to the lack of CCRP function, players have to either fly high and dive on enemies when taking the -3 series (very risky when any enemy SPAA, especially Pantsir-S1, is online) or flying at top speed at very low-altitude to avoid any radar detection; be sure to plan ahead for the assault for maximum efficiency. Alternatively, some players would still take Type 90-1 rockets to take down light vehicles or SPAA systems with the help of the ballistic computer; bringing a mix of rockets, bombs or even IR AAMs can turn J-8F into its prospected usage as a fighter-bomber and enemy vehicles will be troubled by the "JH-8".
Pros and cons
- Rather high overall engine thrust
- Advanced avionics
- First PLAAF jet to equip domestic PD radar with sufficient detection range
- HMD for off-bore launches, especially for all-aspect IR AAM
- All-aspect KJ8602 RWR, unlike Warsaw Pact SPO-15 with limited all-aspect capabilities
- 6 powerful PL-8s with very long lock-on range and high overload
- Sufficient payload for occasional ground-attack operations
- Retained the same, if not better manoeuvrability from J-8B
- High top speed
- First-stage afterburner is surprisingly efficient, providing relatively high thrust for minimal fuel consumption
- Lacks any form of radar-guided weaponry
- Rather large target due to its long airframe
- Relatively small ammo pool
- Delta wing design and its size cause severe speed bleeding in manoeuvres
- Any damage to the tail or rear of the airframe, especially the elevators, can result in the aircraft being very difficult to control or completely disabled
J-8C, the Ancestor
By 1986, there were plans to upgrade the already obsolete J-8II with completely new domestic avionics, in parallel to the Sino-American Peace Pearl (和平珍珠) program in 1984 to upgrade the jet with US/NATO avionics during the better days of Sino-American relationship. Soon after 1989's national-wide riots and the subsequent crackdown in the capital city of Beijing, although Grumman could still continue the project with SAC, due to the rise of budgets and difficulties to purchase NATO avionics after sanctions, the Peace Pearl was eventually cancelled. While the new variant, known as J-8C or J-8III was added to the schedule as Chairman Jiang Zemin (江泽民; 1927/8/17-2022/11/30) approved for the development of the 争气机 (lit. The Good-Show Jet; note: the term 争气 means to earn credits in terms of honour) at 1990/10/31 as the domestic alternatives to the Project 10 (J-10) and Su-27SK Flanker-B. There are two major features of the J-8C: Shenyang Liming WP-14 Kunlun turbojet engine and NRIET Type 1471 PD radar; although early test flights with the modified J-8II prototype airframes were like sailing on fair sea, the crash of two prototypes (one due to ATC miscommunication; one due to onboard fire) were already more than enough to give a death sentence to the project. After the successful test flights of the J-10, and an increase in the fleet of Flankers both from KnAAZ and SAC's J-11A, the project was eventually ditched by 2001. While the Kunlun bit the dust, the Type 1471 radar proved to be rather successful and set the cornerstone for future domestic radars. This was where the story J-8F begun.
Hotel and Foxtrot
By the time the J-8C was still under test flights, the other variant, the J-8D with aerial refuel capabilities took off to the skies by the end of 1991 and the plans to utilize the unused airframes started as well to further enhance to combat capabilities of J-8II. A well-known flaw of the J-8B was the rather inferior Changhong Type 208A radar that wasted many imported Aspide-1A (known as A弹 [A-missile] in PLAAF); the upgrade plans included a new PD radar for the SARH missiles and new WP-13B engines. The green lights were given in December 1999 and test flights done in the 2000s also make the new J-8H as the very first operational domestic jet with LD/SD capabilities, as well as PD (NRIET Type 1491) radar.
But before the test flights of the J-8H, the Air-to-Air Missile Research Institute (空空导弹研究院) also started the "Project 12" (12号工程) of what will be known as the PL-12 in the future; the radar needed to be able to guide PL-12 and TWS capabilities to hit 2 targets. Thus the J-8F planned for another new radar and WP-13B-II engines started its journey in 1998 and tested alongside with J-8H in 2000. Both J-8H and F featured the 149x series PD radar, black radome with lightning strip diverters, KJ8602 RWR from J-8D, as well as new pair of wing fence on the outboard of wings; the only visual difference for these two jets without any payload is a notch by the right side of the radome that indicated the installation of NRIET Type 1492 radar). Since the doctrine of PLAAF changed vastly and with the success of the PL-12, the J-8F became the final standardized version of the J-8 series and joined the PLAAF since 2002, serving as the trio of frontline fighters alongside with J-10s and Flankers. The J-8F was also the basis of the J-8FR (歼侦-8F) with recon pod replacing the autocannon (it was proposed to install WP-14 but later reverted to WP-13B-II for reliability).
As the production of new 4th generation fighters are in steady pace, all the frontline, combat-capable J-8II started to be phrased-out from the mid-2010s and the last division replaced their J-8F with undisclosed jets by June 2022, leaving the 36 J-8FR (24 for PLAAF and 12 for PLANAF) the only J-8 series aircraft still in service; thanks to its impressive climb rate and speed which are essential for recon flights.
- J-8B - J-8II Block 2 with monopulse radar and lesser missile payload
|Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (中航工业沈阳飞机工业(集团)有限公司)|
|J-8||J-8B · J-8F|
|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 · JH-7A|
|American||␗F-84G-21-RE · ␗F-84G-31-RE · ␗F-86F-30 · ␗F-86F-40 · ␗F-100A · ␗F-100F · ␗F-104A · ␗F-104G · ␗F-5A · ␗F-5E · ␗F-16A MLU|
|Soviet||␗MiG-9 · ␗MiG-9 (l)|