China’s Growler?

Spill passed along this little bit about China introducing a new version of the JH-7A Flounder for the Electronic Attack mission.

The People’s Liberation Army is hoping that its new JH-7A “Flying Leopard” fighter-bomber can help give China a much-needed boost in aerial electronic warfare, reports the Beijing-based Sina Military Network.

The JH-7A is an upgraded version of the JH-7 twin-engine fourth generation aircraft manufactured by the Xi’an Aircraft Industry Corporation. The fighter-bomber is said to be a major step forward in China’s bid for “electromagnetic supremacy,” the modern key to air supremacy in combat.

According to the report, the current problem with China’s electronic warfare lies in the low number of available platforms, inferior technology and average combat capabilities.

At present, the PLA only has two aircraft with electronic warfare and countermeasure capabilities — the HD-6, the electronic warfare variant of the H-6 jet bomber, and the Y-8G, the electronic warfare model of the Y-8 transport aircraft.

The baseline JH-7A Flounder serves as a long range precision strike aircraft in the PLAAF and as a long range maritime strike aircraft in the PLANAF.

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Yes, it greatly resembles a SEPECAT Jaguar, but it is a good deal larger, being powered by a Chinese made variant of the Rolls Royce Spey engine.

It’s unclear from the linked article whether the new EA mission will be fulfilled with a dedicated full time variant, or if it is simply a “podded” capability being added to the Flounder fleet. At any rate, it’s interesting in that very few countries operate dedicated electronic attack aircraft.

The US, of course, flies the EA-18G Growler, and the EA-6B Prowler. Germany operates the Tornado ECR, but that’s a Wild Weasel variant, not a jamming platform.  Australia has also bought the EA-18G. Most of our other allies, however, seem to presume that any air campaign will be conducted in cooperation with us, with the US supplying all the EA needed. After all, that’s been the template for the last 25 years.

China, of course, doesn’t see us supply EA coverage for any potential campaign. One wonders what possible campaigns they might contemplate? Area denial to the South China Sea? That is, EA attacks on US, Japanese, or Korean Aegis equipped destroyers?  Or maybe deep strike missions against Japan?

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