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PLA Eastern Theater Command Replaces Legacy Aircraft with More J-16 Fighter Jets

In this undated file photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, a Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location.
In this undated file photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, a Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.05.2023
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command recently replaced a batch of legacy aircraft with additional J-16 heavy fighter jets, a type of advanced warplane frequently spotted in routine drills and patrols around the island of Taiwan.
After a brigade affiliated with the air force of the PLA Eastern Theater Command made a cross-generational conversion to flying J-16 fighter jets, an air group of the brigade recently carried out its first flight training with the new aircraft, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Friday.

Several J-16s took off from a training airfield in the northern part of East China's Jiangsu Province, headed toward a target region and completed a series of training maneuvers, marking a key step for the brigade to convert to flying the more advanced new aircraft, as the pilots began actual flights after ground simulator trainings, CCTV reported.
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"The new J-16 aircraft has more outstanding aerodynamic configuration and better control performances [compared with previous aircraft,]" Zhang Zhencheng, brigade deputy chief of staff, said in the CCTV report.

It requires pilots to overcome some of their old flying habits to make the best use of the new aircraft, Zhang said.

The cross-generational conversion indicates that the brigade likely converted to the J-16s from aircraft of previous generations, like the legacy J-7 or J-8 fighter jets, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday.
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This means a huge step forward for the brigade in terms of combat capabilities, the expert said.

China has been decommissioning legacy aircraft in a move to modernize its warplane fleet, with the J-7 and the J-8 both on the list, according to media reports.

Widely believed by analysts to be China's second most powerful fighter jet after the stealth-capable J-20, the J-16 is a type of 4.5-generation multirole heavy fighter jet capable of both air combat and land attack. It can also form a formidable partnership with the J-20, taking advantage of its strong payload-carrying capability, analysts said.

Before the latest commissioning, a decent number of J-16s have already entered service with the PLA Eastern Theater Command, with the defense authority on the island of Taiwan frequently reporting sightings of this type of aircraft in routine PLA exercises and patrols around the island.
This article war originally published by Global Times.
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