Shenyang J-8 ‘Finback’

Aircraft Profile
Shenyang J-8-II
(photo, credit unknown)


The J-8 (Chinese name Jianjiji-8 (Fighter Aircraft 8 or Jian-8) was the subject of an advanced fighter programme that started in China in the late 1960s. The J-8 was the first PLAAF aircraft of domestic design. The overall configuration is a straightforward enlargement of the MiG-21/J-7 layout to accommodate two engines. Although it resembled Mikoyan’s experimental Ye-152A, contrary to some reports, it was not based on that aircraft. Production began in December 1979, with about 100 aircraft of the first configuration entering service.

The J-8 is a delta-wing aircraft with vertical tail surfaces similar to late-production MiG-21s. It also incorporates technology gleaned from the Soviet MiG-23 variable geometry aircraft.

Design work on the improved J-8-II began in 1980, with production beginning in the late 1980s. The J-8-II has a completely new front end with much larger radar and ventral inlets, along with other less obvious improvements. The improved aircraft was comparable in aerodynamic performance to the Soviet Su-15 “Flagon”.

The Jian-8-IIM upgrade was developed by both China and Russia, (“M” stands for export only aircraft), this model has now become a new-generation fighter. The first flight was on 31 March 1996. This aircraft has upgraded electronic systems, it is claimed to survive damage better that the single-engined F-16A/C and the Mirage 2000. The high-altitude high-speed performance of the J-8-IIM is superior to the F-16A/C, F/A-18 and Mirage 2000; and its radar and electronic equipment are better than the F-16A and similar to the F-16C, F/A-18 and Mirage 2000-5. New WP-13B engines power the aircraft and it has greatly improved low-altitude manoeuvrability.


Requirement Specification: Not known
Manufacturers Designation: Not known

Development History:
J-8 Finback-A Initial development version with small ranging radar in intake centrebody. Armed with single 30 mm cannon and four PL-2 missiles.
J-8-I Finback-A All weather fighter derivative with SR-4 radar in enlarged intake centrebody, small wing fences and relocated airbrakes. Cannon replaced by 23 mm twin-barrelled 23-III cannon.
J-8-II Finback-B Further development with large solid nose radome and MiG-23 type side intakes. Ventral strakes replaced by folding fin. 70% of the airframe changed with respect to the original J-8.
F-8B Projected (?) export version of J-8-II with WP-13B engines, pulse-Doppler look-down radar and digital avionics, with HUD and ‘glass’ cockpit.
J-8-IIM Revised export version with Russian rather than US avionics equipment.


Key Dates:
1964    PLAAF requirement for fighter superior to MiG-21
1965    J-8 project started
July 1968    First two prototypes completed
5 July 1969    First flight of first prototype
1979    Official certification of J-8
May 1980    First prototype J-8-I completed but destroyed in a fire
September 1980    PLAAF requirement for J-8-II development
24 April 1981    Second prototype J-8-I makes maiden flight
May 1981    Development of J-8-II version approved
12 June 1984    First flight of J-8-II prototype
July 1985    Official certification of J-8-I
5 August 1987    ‘Peace Pearl’ contract with Grumman in the USA for the supply of avionics systems upgrade kits for installation in the J-8-II
1989    ‘Peace Pearl’ cancelled by China following US sanctions over Tiananmen Square massacre.
31 March 1996    First flight of the J-8-IIM export variant


Military Operators

China PLAAF J-8, J-8-I, J-8-II

Government Agencies


Civilian Operators



Shenyang J-8-I
As J-8-II except for the following:
Engines: Two Liyang (LMC) Wopen 7B turbojets each rated at 9,700 lb st (43.15 kN) dry and 13,448 lb st (59.82 kN) with afterburning
Performance: Maximum rate of climb at sea level 39,370 ft/min (12,000 m/min); Service ceiling 59,050 ft (18,000 m); Combat radius 432 nm (497 miles, 800 km)
Shenyang J-8-II
Crew: One pilot
Dimensions: Length 70 ft 10 in (21.59 m) including probe; Height 17 ft 9 in (5.41 m); Wing Span 30 ft 7.875 in (9.34 m); Wing Area 454.25 sq ft (42.20 sq m)
Engines: Two Liyang (LMC) Wopen 13A-II turbojets each rated at 9,590 lb st (42.66 kN) dry and 14,815 lb st (65.90 kN) with afterburning
Weights: Empty Equipped 21,649 lb (9,820 kg); Normal Take-off 31,526 lb (14,300 kg); Maximum Take-off 39,242 lb (17,800 kg)
Armament: 6 under wing hard points for fuel, bombs, rockets or missiles: 4 PL-2 or PL-7 and one 800 lt. drop tank, 2 PL-2 or PL-7 and 2 x 480 lt. drop tanks and one 800 lt. drop tank.
Performance: Maximum level speed Mach 2.2 (1,453 mph, 2,338 kph) at 36,000 ft (10975 m); Cruising speed: 800 mph (1,300 kph); Maximum rate of climb at sea level 39,370 ft/min (12,000 m/min); Service ceiling 66,275 ft (20,200 m); Standard range 700 nm (1,300 km) at cruise speeds; Combat radius 432 nm (497 miles, 800 km); Ferry range 1,187 nm (1,367 miles, 2,200 km) with drop tanks


Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Not known
Design Office: Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, Shenyang.


Shenyang Aircraft Corporation
(PO Box 328, Shenyang, Liaoning 110034, People’s Republic of China)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
J-8 proto.   2 Shenyang 1965-July 1968
J-8 prodn. few# Shenyang 1979-1980
J-8-I proto.   2 Shenyang 1980-April 1981
J-8-I prodn. c.90* Shenyang July 1985-198?
J-8-II proto. 4 Shenyang May 1981-July 1984
J-8-II prodn. ? Shenyang 1988-19??
Total: ?    

# Some J-8 may have been converted to J-8-I standard.
* Total J-8/J-8-I production circa 100 a/c.

Total Produced: ? a/c

Production List

To be added.

More Information


‘Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by David Donald & Jon Lake
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, 1996 ISBN: 1 874023 95 6
* Includes entries for J-8-I and J-8-II.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 3’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Nov 1990 ISBN: 1 87402 30 42
* Includes ‘air power briefing’ on the J-8.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 29’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, May 1997 ISBN: 1 86184 00 39
* Includes ‘air power briefing’ on the J-8-IIM.


To be added.




Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
To be added.


To be added.