A large number of old J-6 fighter jets that have been converted into unmanned attack aircraft are being stationed at Liancheng Air Base in Fujian province, according to the latest issue of Kanwa Defense Review.
China’s Huanqiu.com cited the Canadian online magazine as saying that satellite photos taken on July 31, 2011 showed there were at least 55 of the J-6 aircraft on the base.
The magazine said the air base most likely has more J-6s than any other base in Fujian, showing that the Chinese Air Force attaches great importance to the capabilities of the unmanned fighter.
Reports said the J-6, the Chinese-built version of the Soviet MiG-19 ‘Farmer’ fighter aircraft, was produced by Shengyang Aircraft Corp. and formed the backbone of the Chinese Air Force in the 1960s and the 1970s.
The J-6 was the core of the Chinese fighter fleet until mid-1990s and was retired from combat duties in the late 1990s. But because of the J-6s’ maneuverability, high thrust-to-weight ratio, and light weight and their suitability for close-distance combat, the planes have since been converted into unmanned attack fighters.
The J-6 has a maximum speed of Mach 1.45 and a service ceiling of 17,900 m (58,700 ft). Combat radius with two drop tanks is about 640 km (400 mi).
In addition to the powerful cannon armament, most versions of the aircraft have a maximum payload of 500 kg (1,100 lb).