Shenyang Aircraft has revealed details of an Alternate Control Test (ACT) programme to develop and demonstrate its own fly-by-wire technology. The ACT was unveiled at the Zhuhai Air Show in early November and is the first indication that China has developed such technology.
China rarely reveals much about such initiatives, but Shenyang says the programme began in 1977, with construction starting in 1988. A J-8 I fighter was used as the first technology demonstrator, but later this role was assumed by a J-8 II fighter. According to Shenyang, from 1992 to 1995 the programme benefited from "foreign technology input". The J-8 II ACT uses small canards to induce instability. The programme has demonstrated a three-axis full-authority digital fly-by-wire system, featuring a flight computer with a 1553B databus interface and integrated servo actuators for the vertical and horizontal tail, ailerons, flap and rudder.
Shenyang is adamant that the J-8 II ACT programme has no links to Chengdu's J-10 fighter. The canard-equipped, delta wing J-10 is a classically unstable configuration and will need a fly-by-wire system. Barring the existence of a new advanced fighter programme at Shenyang, it is believed that Shenyang chose to reveal the ACT demonstrator in an attempt to generate export sales.
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