Nanchang Q-5 / A-5
As Shenyang began developing MiG-19s locally under the J-6 name in 1958, the PLAAF requested the development of the design into a dedicated attack aircraft. Shenyang assigned the same project manager as the one in charge of the J-12 program. The aircraft was designated Qiangjiji-5 (Q-5) which stands for Attack aircraft 5. A long list of changes was made to the MiG-19 design, making the new aircraft virtually unrecognizable. The intakes were moved to the fuselage sides to make space for a radar, while the aircraft was lengthened and area ruled to make space for an internal weapons bay and reduce transonic drag, respectively. The wing root 30mm cannon of the J-6 were replaced with 23mm cannon, but payload was doubled to 2,000kg, and the number of hardpoints was increased from four to six. Meanwhile, larger, less swept wings were added. Although it was designed by Shenyang, further development and production were assigned to Nanchang. The prototype was completed in 1960, but due to the political climate at the time, was cancelled before it took flight in 1961.
The prototype program was kept alive by small team and resumed officially 1963, when the PLAAF revived the project and moved it to Nanchang. First flight took place on 4 June 1965, featuring an area ruled fuselage for minimum transonic drag, cockpit armour protection, a "solid" nose and a weapon bay (for early test and production aircraft, but omitted from improved production versions). The Q-5 (particularly its wing) is based on the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19, already built in the People's Republic under the designation Shenyang J-6. Slightly longer than its ancestor, the Q-5 differs considerably in profile by reasons of a 'solid' nose and cheek air inlets made necessary by transfer of some avionics from the centre fuselage to make way for an internal weapons bay (now used for additional fuel), although the MiG's four wing strongpoints and root-mounted cannon are retained for close support work. Overall length was increased, and wing span was extended to compensate. An internal weapons bay was incorporated, but this is now used to house additional fuel, increasing internal fuel capacity by 70 per cent. External stores are carried on four underwing and four under-fuselage stations. Powered by the same Soviet-designed, Chinese-built engines as the J-6, this variant has a taller fin and a narrower centre fuselage. A camera mounted on starboard side of the nose is for gunnnery recording only.
Performance was found to be slightly worse than the J-6 at high altitude, but it was just as fast at low altitudes. Further modifications were found necessary, leading to flight test of two much modified prototypes from October 1969. Known in the West as the Nanchang A-5 'Fantan-A' and to the People's Liberation Army Air Force as the Qiangjiji-5 (Attack Aircraft Type 5), the Q-5 was revealed in limited detail only during 1980.
Series production was approved at the end of 1969, with deliveries beginning 1970. A total of approximately 1000 aircraft were built, of which nearly 600 were the improved Q-5IA variant. A small number, perhaps a few dozen, of the Q-5IAs were modified to carry nuclear weapons. The nuclear capable Q-5A first flew on 1st August 1970. The Q-5A added two more hardpoints. On 7th January 1972, a Q-5A dropped a 20 kT nuclear bomb on Lop Nor nuclear test site in northwest China.
A long-range variant emerged, replacing the interal bay with a fuel tank, and the late production Q-5D received advanced HUDs, laser designators, and FLIR. In the late 1980s, there were plans to upgrade the Q-5 fleet with the avionics of the AMX International AMX, but these plans fell through after sanctions over the heavy-handed response to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
Exported from 1983 as the A-5, North Korea was the first export customer for the aircraft, buying 40 Q-5As.
Peak production levels were attained in the early 1970s, and by 1978 production had almost come to an end. Export orders from North Korea, Burma and Pakistan, together with additional local requirements, caused production to be increased in the early 1980s. 40 or more were delivered to Pakistan in 1982-3. Pakistan required an eventual total of some 150 of this type.
1984 production models at Nanchang were the Q-5-III for Chinese use, and the A-5C for export. The A-5C (Q-5III) is the improved version of the Q-5I variant. It was flight tested in late 1980 and certified for production on 20 October 1981 and was exported in 1983 to Bangladesh (20) and Pakistan (52).