China hopes to sell J-10C fighter jets in Middle East as aerobatics team heads for Dubai Airshow

Seven Chinese J-10C jet fighters will appear at the Dubai Airshow next week as Beijing seeks to tap into the Middle East market.

The seven multi-role jet fighters from the Chinese air force’s August 1st Aerobatics Team took off from an unnamed airport in western China bound for the Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai on Wednesday, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.

It will be the J-10C’s first public display in the Middle East since the warplane, also known as the Vigorous Dragon, completed a major upgrade in 2018.

The fighter is sometimes compared to the US F-16 multi-role fighter.

The five-day Dubai Airshow starts on Monday and it will be the first time the August 1st Aerobatics Team has featured in the show since 2017.

The air force aerobatics team switched to the newest version of the J-10 earlier this year. Photo: Getty Images

Although the US remains the world’s top weapons exporter, China has emerged as an alternative supplier by offering more affordable advanced weapons and not attaching political conditions to sales.

Meanwhile, Algeria is known to have bought several Chinese corvettes plus various missiles and drones, and Saudi Arabia is reportedly in talks to buy unmanned aerial vehicles and air defence systems.

The J-10, also known as the “Firebird” to Nato, is a medium-weight single-engine jet fighter capable of all-weather operations first introduced to the Chinese air force in 2005. It is China’s first domestic advanced jet fighter.

The latest edition, the J-10C, was commissioned in 2018 and is fitted with an advanced electronic warfare system, infrared tracking target system, and active electronically scanned array radars.

China’s first female pilot of J-10 fighter jets dies in an air accident

This newest model was also fitted with a more powerful WS-10B engine and PL-15 air-to-air missiles.

Its manufacturer, the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, has made modifications to the jet fighter in its bid to promote it to foreign buyers.

In 2020, Pakistan became its first foreign buyer with an order of 25 J-10Cs and followed it by ordering an additional 11 planes the next year. It has received 20 of the fighters over the past two years.

The August 1st Aerobatics Team switched from J-10As to the upgraded version in May.

That month the team made its first overseas appearance in the new planes at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition in Malaysia, where a delegation from the Egyptian air force was reported to have met representatives of the manufacturers.

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