China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force has sent new version of its JH-7AII fighter bomber warplane to the Aviadarts competition to be held in Russia under the International Army Games 2019, the Chinese media have reported.
"Participating in a competition held abroad shows the newly upgraded warplane is technically mature and available for combat duty," Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst was quoted as saying by Global Times on Thursday.
The JH-7AⅡ was seen during a static display at the opening ceremony of the competition, Xinhua reported Tuesday.
This is the first time this designation has been made public, Weihutang, a column on military affairs affiliated with China Central Television, reported on Wednesday, noting that the previous updated version of the JH-7 fighter bomber was known as the JH-7A.
The two reports did not provide details on the difference between the JH-7AⅡ and the JH-7A.
"While the aerodynamic design of the JH-7AⅡ does not appear to vary much from the JH-7A, the aircraft's internal systems could have been upgraded," Wei said.
"The JH-7AⅡ could be equipped with a more advanced radar and avionics system, enhancing its flight performance," Wei said, noting that it can likely carry more weapons, giving it even more firepower and improved accuracy.
Previously, it was speculated that China could retire its fleet of JH-7s as it was thought that there was no room for improvement of the JH-7 series. Furthermore, inducting the J-16 fighter that can double as a fighter bomber added to the speculations.
The debut of the JH-7AⅡ broke those rumors as it appears that the JH-7 series of warplanes will remain a powerful tool in the hands of the PLA, the Weihutang report said.