CHINA'S GUIZHOU Aviation Industry (GAIC) claims to have completed development and begun production of a stretched version of the tandem-seat FT-7P fighter trainer.

The aircraft is a derivative of GAIC's original two-seat FT-7 trainer, incorporating a 600mm fuselage plug, says the manufacturer. The additional space created by the stretch provides for a larger fuel capacity and an internal gun.

The aircraft is intended to combine the two-seat capacity of the FT-7/FT-7P operational trainer with the combat capabilities of the single-seat Chengdu Aircraft F-7/F-7M.

The original trainer version sacrificed internal avionics and weapon space to accommodate a second cockpit seat (Flight International, 10-16 August, 1994, P15).

The new derivative has an increased maximum take-off weight of 9,550kg and an internal fuel capacity of 2,800litres. There is also provision to carry up 1,800litres of extra fuel in three under-fuselage/wing drop-tanks.

According to GAIC officials, the aircraft has already entered operational service, but the company refuses to give any further details. It is thought that the aircraft is intended primarily for export, principally to Pakistan, which already operates a large number of F-7M/FT-7Ps.

Source: Flight International