The Chinese Navy is modifying the JL-9 Mountain Eagle trainer jet to train aircraft carrier jet pilots on an actual in-service aircraft carrier, one of two that the Chinese Navy has.
The JL-9's developer, Guizhou Aviation Industry Corporation released images involved the JL-9 and an aircraft carrier operating together in edited pictures, leading to speculation that the JL-9 could eventually be modified into a carrier-based jet trainer, reported Weihutang, a column on military affairs affiliated with China Central Television, on Tuesday.
Getting the JL-9 fly on a carrier might require major modifications to the airframe and engine. The report came after the Guizhou company released a statement on Monday, saying it is determined to "win a new victory in developing and producing the naval version of the Mountain Eagle."
The statement came with a picture of an aircraft carrier sailing in the sea, with a picture of the JL-9 Mountain Eagle edited onto it, flying above the carrier, state owned media outlet, Chinamil said.
Having been already delivered to the Chinese Navy, the naval version of the JL-9 is now training aircraft carrier jet pilots on land-based airfields, but China still does not have an aircraft carrier-based trainer aircraft that can take off and land on an actual carrier, Weihutang reported.
With China's second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, joining Chinese naval service in December 2019, China needs to train more pilots more efficiently, and a trainer aircraft that can operate on a carrier rather than a simulated airfield can contribute a great deal to this aim, analysts said.
Earlier reports in state-owned media said that China had ended the production of the JL-9 in favor of the win-engined JL-10 Falcon, which has a more advanced avionics and better aerodynamic performance.