GEC-Marconi is first choice for Chinese FC-1 avionics

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China National Aero Technology Import and Export (CATIC) is set to select the GEC-Marconi Blue Hawk radar and avionics for the new Chengdu Aircraft (CAC) FC-1 fighter. A new F-7 variant has also been revealed.

CATIC and CAC are expected to choose GEC-Marconi as its preferred radar and cockpit-avionics supplier by the end of the year. The final decision, however, will need the end user's approval.

The Pakistan air force, which is the most likely lead customer, had intended to evaluate and select its own avionics. In October, however, it asked China to forward recommendations. The move is intended to speed up the programme, which is now running more than a year behind its latest revised schedule.

Chinese industry sources say that familiarity with existing GEC-Marconi systems makes it China's preferred supplier. The UK company has already supplied the head-up display (HUD) and Skyranger radar for the CAC F-7M and multi-mode Super Skyranger for the follow-on F-7MG fighter.

CATIC has unveiled a mock-up of the FC-1 cockpit, fitted with a GEC-Marconi raster-compatible HUD, with 25í field of view, and twin multi-function head-down displays. There will also be a stores-management system, an inertial-navigation system, with an embedded global-positioning system (GPS), and an air-data computer.

Competing against GEC-Marconi for the overall FC-1 avionics contract are Thomson CSF/Sextant and Sagem. Thomson is also offering a version of its RDY radar, while Italy's Fiar has proposed the Grifo-7 and Russia's Phazotron the Super Komar.

Delay in finalising the aircraft's avionics and radar fit has pushed back the first flight of the FC-1 until at least late 1998.

Pakistan, however, has still to commit itself formally to the programme. The country has warned that, unless the Chinese air force also orders the aircraft, it is reluctant to support development.

CAC, in the meantime, has unveiled its improved single-seat F-7MG fighter. The aircraft, which is already in Chinese service, features a double-delta wing, fitted with leading and trailing-edge flaps and conical-camber outer leading edge for improved medium- and low-level manoeuvrability.

The aircraft is powered by an up-rated 58.8kN (13,200lb)-thrust Wopen WP13F turbojet. CAC claims that the F-7MG boasts a climb rate of 38,300ft/min (195m/s), a 24% improvement over earlier versions. Its maximum payload has also been raised by 200kg, to 1,800kg, and operational radius in the air-superiority role extended by 10%, to 850km (460nm).

In addition to the Super Skyranger radar, the F-7MG's avionics have been upgraded with the addition of an AlliedSignal electronic flight instrument system and radar altimeter.

China shows F-7MG with double-delta wings