|This page is about the Chinese strike aircraft Q-5L. For other versions, see Q-5 (Family).|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The Q-5L (Chinese: 强-5L型强击机; unified NATO Codename: Fantan) was one of the final versions of the Q-5 family developed in the early 2000s, focusing on improving the electronics for ground-attack capabilities. China had been closely observing the USAF's guided munitions since the Vietnam War, during which their AGM-62 Walleyes performed exceptionally well in attacking critical infrastructure to stall attacks from the Viet Cong. Due to political turmoil, the PLAAF failed to acquire foreign targeting pods, so testing of domestic LGBs and guidance pods began in the 1990s with various prototypes. Although the plan for a 2-plane formation, where one plane would carry bombs and the other a target pod, was abandoned, the new avionics of the Q-5II (Q-5C; suffixed with L when upgraded) and Q-5D (suffixed with N) ensured the capability of the single jet to strike enemies with LGBs. These upgrades became the standard for the Q-5s before their ultimate decommission in the early 2010s.
Introduced in Update "Fire and Ice", the Q-5L has an increased bomb payload and updated avionics such as a new FLIR sensor underneath the nose. However, it is still not any better in air combat than the Q-5A because it lacks air-to-air missiles and, in fact, loses the valuable chaff/flare dispenser. Its deficits in air-to-air combat and fragility are compensated for by access to laser-guided bombs and a targeting pod with thermal optics, all at a much lower battle rating than the Jaguar GR.1A or Mirage 2000D-R1. In Ground RB, a well-flown Q-5L can destroy enemy vehicles without much concern for enemy air defenses.
For players who have flown the Q-5 series, Q-5L still retains the same flight performance - although sharing many parts with the J-6A, due to the lack of weight-reduction measures, Q-5s are in fact structurally overweight; while it has better sustained turn to heavier jets such as Phantoms thanks to its engines, do note that the weight issue still haunts the jet. Beware of any targets that have higher manoeuvrability, although your higher speed might save you from subsonic jets, any supersonic jets will have no problem chasing a Q-5L. Another note is that the Q-5L still retains the same control surface lock-up at transonic speeds (>850 km/h and before hitting Mach 1.0), use the airbrakes according to the situation for both regaining control or "snap-shots" on enemy targets.
|Characteristics|| Max speed
(km/h at 7,000 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)|
|< 540||< 650||< 350||N/A|
|Engine name||Number||Wing loading (full fuel)|
|Shenyang Liming WP-6A-III||2||6,598 kg||337 kg/m2|
|Engine characteristics||Mass with fuel (no weapons load)|
|Weight (each)||Type||10m fuel||20m fuel||30m fuel||34m fuel|
|725 kg||Afterburning axial-flow turbojet||7,446 kg||8,215 kg||9,024 kg||9,425 kg||12,457 kg|
|Thrust to weight ratio @ 0 m (WEP)|
|Condition||100%||WEP||10m fuel||20m fuel||30m fuel||34m fuel||MGW|
|Stationary||2,650 kgf||3,713 kgf||1.00||0.90||0.82||0.79||0.59|
|Optimal|| 2,677 kgf
| 3,789 kgf
Survivability and armour
- 10 mm steel plate behind nose cone
- 4.5 + 8 mm bulletproof glass in front of the cockpit
- 8 mm steel plate underneath cockpit
- 16 mm steel armoured pilot's seat
- 10 + 25 mm steel armoured pilot's headrest
- Self-sealing fuel tanks behind cockpit and underneath engines in rear fuselage
The Q-5L shares the same protection as its predecessors. Due to the need for ground attack and some protection for the pilot, the cockpit is enclosed by steel plates and comes with bulletproof glass. While this might not be sufficient against any autocannons at the rank, it could at least make sure the pilot will not be knocked out right away by incoming shots or shrapnel. The engines are still unprotected, but the installation of fire suppression systems allows the Q-5L to have greater odds to survive a fire onboard.
Modifications and economy
|CCIP (Guns)||CCIP (Rockets)||CCIP (Bombs)||CCRP (Bombs)|
The Q-5L is armed with:
- 2 x 23 mm Type 23-2K cannons, wing-mounted (120 rpg = 240 total)
The Type 23-2K cannons should be more than familiar to experienced Fantan users. Many of the Q-5L's opponents will be supersonic aircraft, and the substandard muzzle velocity and inconsistent damage per shot can be annoying. Still, they are its only air-to-air weapon.
The Q-5L does not have the countermeasures seen on the previous Q-5A. A lack of flares and chaff is not unheard of for jets at its battle rating, but the Q-5L does not have impressive offensive weapons such as effective air-to-air missiles to compensate.
The Q-5L can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
|250 kg 250-3 bombs||1||1||4||1||1|
|250 kg 250-4 bombs||1||1||4||1||1|
|500 kg 500-3 bombs||1||1|
|500 kg 500-4 bombs||1||1|
|260 kg TS250 bombs||1*||1*|
|570 kg LS-500J bombs||1*||1*|
|Type 90-1 rockets||7||7||7||7|
|Type 130-2 rockets||4||4||4||4|
|K/PZS-01 targeting pod||1*|
|* The K/PZS-01 targeting pod must be carried when equipping laser-guided bombs|
|Default weapon presets|
The good news for players of the Q-5L is that the PLAAF have finally ditched the -2 series bombs for the streamlined -3 series low-drag bombs, in addition to the ability to carry greater payloads. Players can take eight 250-3 bombs which, combined with the ballistic computer, could do extensive damage to multiple targets. While the option for a pair of 500-3 bombs on the wings also exists, in most cases the 250 kg bombs are more than enough to take down tanks of the rank. Both payloads are also now finally sufficient to (barely) destroy a base in Air RB.
Thanks to the technological advances of the early 2000s, the Q-5L also receives "smart bombs" in the 260 kg TS250 and 500 kg LS-500J laser-guided bombs. Combined with the K/PZS-01 targeting pod with excellent thermal sights, both of these bombs can make sure the enemies will have a really bad day while you can keep yourself out of trouble by dropping the bombs from higher altitude. The TS250 is unlocked first and contains an underwhelming 91 kg of TNT equivalent. The LS-500J is much better with 220 kg of TNT and can quite consistently destroy clustered enemy tanks. Note that the targeting pod blocks the underbelly pylons from being used to carry unguided bombs.
For players that feel that bombs are not their cup of tea, there are still options for 90 mm and 130 mm rockets at their disposal; while both of them can be guided by ballistic computer as well, do note that they don't have as many salvoes as their NATO/Warsaw Pact counterparts, so aim carefully before firing upon light targets or careless MBTs, taking them out using the high penetration HEAT warheads of the 90-1 or the explosive mass of the 130-2 rockets.
Usage in battles
The Q-5L shares many similar features to previous Fantans: the same bulky MiG-19/J-6-based airframe with high acceleration. While there are some changes to the avionics and weapons, in most scenarios Q-5L flies like all the other Fantans.
An everlasting flaw of the Q-5s is the overweight airframe due to the limits of materials, this still applies to the Q-5L, though it has some parts of the airframe reinforced with modern materials. In most cases, using the Q-5L as a makeshift fighter is not a great idea as the airframe hinders the overall manoeuvrability; yes, it could still surprise in outturning supersonic jets of its rank or sometimes higher, but do remember that the Q-5 is an attacker and doesn't have the manoeuvrability at high speeds, especially at transonic speeds where the control surfaces lock up and might cause trouble when attempting to level out from a dive. To say the least, if enemy fighters are at lower speeds and lack the acceleration to escape from the Q-5L's pair of WP-6III engines, in most cases a sustained turnfight is enough to take them down with ease, assuming the pilot is used to the subpar ballistic performance of 23-2K cannons onboard. In some cases, even jets with delta wings will fall victim to the Q-5L with its superior manoeuvring energy retention. However, only take on enemies when they are on their own, as a prolonged dogfight means that supersonic enemy backup could quickly arrive and turn the tables.
Since the airframe has been reinforced, the Q-5L can carry up to 2 tons of bombs in a single run: for the more dedicated role of being an attacker, taking eight 250-3 bombs are barely sufficient to take down a base at its rank: although this also means you have to land and rearm often, this at least gives the Q-5L a chance to earn extra research points. Using the new CCRP function alongside bomb series makes it very easy to bomb bases and turn around early. While bombing AI targets is still viable, only do it when the skies are clear from enemies as the Q-5L lacks countermeasures against enemy missiles.
Using the Q-5L as a bomb truck will still leave the inner wing pylons available for carrying rockets. Two pods of 130 mm rockets can be fired at bases for additional points. More creatively, two pods of 90 mm rockets can be carried for use as makeshift flares in a tactic pioneered by contemporary attackers like the MiG-23BN. Although 14 rockets is a long way from the MiG-23BN's swarms of 57 mm rockets, they are still better than nothing and can help the Q-5L survive a head-on or two from all-aspect missiles like the R-60M.
Payback with Vengeance
While players might not have a good time in aerial combat, the Q-5L brings in a very valuable feature for PLAAF jets: a full-fledged ballistic computer and guided bombs. To players suffering from enemy jet attackers in ground battles, the Q-5L lets enemies taste their own medicine to some extent. Thanks to the new HUD and sensors onboard, the Q-5L is able to achieve precise strikes with either its bombs or rockets. The new targeting pod onboard provides a thermal vision sight, while the jet itself also has a built-in 1.5x camera for acquisition. For the safest approach against enemy targets, take either the 250/500 kg LGBs (TS250/LS-500J) alongside the targeting pod and climb to at least 6 km before entering the battlefield as this lowers the odds of being pinged by SAM radar and MANPADS of the rank have very little chance of hitting targets at such altitude. Do note that due to the limited view angle of the pod, you might sometimes have to dive in for a better lock, make sure to deploy airbrakes for maximum control.
Zoom-climbing to high altitudes and tossing laser-guided bombs in "orbital strikes" is a safe and relaxing way to destroy enemy SAMs, who cannot hide from the thermal targeting pod and will often have trouble detecting or hitting the Q-5L at such a high elevation. This anti-SAM capability is unparalleled for the Q-5L's battle rating. The bomb will take a long time to reach the ground however, so keep an eye on the battlefield and switch targets if needed. After SAMs are cleared, the Q-5L is free to start diving closer. Even after the LGBs are spent, the targeting pod can still be used to find and track targets to use unguided ordnance on - newly spawned revenge SAMs for example can be given a rude welcome of HE rockets.
However, even before any LGBs have been researched, the Q-5L still has a range of unguided ordnance including GP bombs and rocket pods; the ballistic computer onboard can make sure the ordnance lands as close as possible to the designated target. Leave the bombs for (groups of) tanks, and use the rockets against light vehicles or enemy SPAA who aren't aware of your existence.
The Q-5L's lack of air-to-air capability is not as relevant in Ground RB, but it is still important to keep an eye out for enemy aircraft because of its high fragility. A crafty opponent can counter the Q-5L by bringing out a jet with powerful missiles. It only takes one AIM-9L to send the Q-5L back to the hangar if the pilot is staring through the targeting pod for minutes at a time. Watch the enemy air spawn, avoid giving opponents opportunities to launch their missiles, and use rockets as flares if needed. A skilled Fantan veteran can still out-dogfight overconfident attackers when not carrying bombs. Friendly TY-90-equipped Chinese helicopters like the Z-9W are ironically more effective in air combat than the Q-5L, so bait pursuers near them if possible.
Pros and cons
- New HUD with ballistic computer
- Built-in TVD camera for target acquisition; alternatively equipped with an advanced targeting pod
- Access to 250/500 kg laser-guided bombs
- Sufficient manoeuvrability at around 700 km/h
- Great acceleration thanks to the WP-6-IIIA engines
- Access to RWR
- Same bulky airframe as all its predecessors and still locks up at transonic speeds
- The built-in camera only has 1.5x magnification and limited rotation range
- Lacks any type of AAM and countermeasures, unlike its technological predecessor A-5C
- Type 23-2K cannons needs extra practice against aerial targets
- Subpar payload to its NATO/Warsaw Pact counterparts
The Q-5L variant of the Q-5 family traces back to two other variants, the Q-5E/F, in the late 1990s.
As part of the efforts to develop domestic precision munitions against enemies' infrastructure inspired by the USAF's AGM-62 and GBU-12 bombs in the Vietnam War and Gulf War, the PLAAF accelerated the development of LGBs in December 1996 with a plan for the precision munitions where either a single jet would carry both the targeting pod and the bombs for an attack run, or it would be guided by another Q-5/ground-based designators; both Factory 612 and 613 in Shaanxi started their respective development on an LGB and the targeting pod. A few brand-new Q-5Ds were then modified into Q-5E and Q-5F as the carrier and designator respectively, where Q-5F would guide the bombs dropped from Q-5E onto the target. Although both jets passed for certification in the early 2000s, it was deemed that 2 separated jets for a run wasn't viable and the project was ditched.
In the mid-1990s, after the previous projects of A-5M and A-5K were canceled by the 1989 Crackdown, the PLAAF requested for a domestic digital upgrade for later batches of Q-5III and Q-5D with new HUD and sensors for precision assaults, as well as as the placeholder before the XAC JH-7 Feibao (NATO: Flounder) entered mass-production. Those jets which were modified from the Q-5II (Q-5C after new nomenclature was issued to replace the numeral suffix) were designated Q-5L with new antennas and stabilized opto-electronic camera in the nose for target acquisition (while Q-5Ds with these upgrades were named Q-5N) , as well as the capability of carrying the targeting pod on its own for attack runs. With the older avionics replaced with more advanced ones, the new jet entered service in 2005 alongside Q-5Ns that were modified from the Q-5D and served as the economical alternatives to new jets before they were eventually replaced by fighters with multirole features such as J-10A, Feibao, and Flankers in 2017. 
- Q-5 early- LRIP of Q-5
- Q-5A- Base model of Q-5s
- A-5C- Export model of Q-5 and the technological predecessor of Q-5L
- PP.77-82, The Rising East Wind- The Biography of Q-5 Attacker by Lao Bi and Liu Ming, NAAS & Inertial Technology, ISSN 1009-5497, 2014
|Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation (南昌飞机制造公司)|
|Strike aircraft||Q-5 early · Q-5A · Q-5L|
|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)|