Ground crew prepare a newly-painted J-10 fighter for performances at a one-week international air show starting on Nov 16 in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong province, Nov 2, 2010. [Photo/Xinhua]
BEIJING - The new paint scheme for China's most advanced fighter jets used by the military aerobatic team will make its debut later this month, the air force of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) announced on Thursday.
In contrast to the usual decision-making process involved in selecting the paint scheme for the planes used by the famous August 1st Aerobatic Team, it was not the air force that chose the latest design, but military fans.
"It looks like an amazing three-dimensional sword when the aircraft rockets into the sky," said a PLA air force senior colonel involved in the project who declined to give his name for security reasons.
"It will be the first time that a three-dimensional design appears before world aerobatic teams," he said.
Seven J-10 aircraft painted in a combination of dark blue, "China red" and silvery white will soon fly to Zhuhai city in Guangdong province to prepare for performances at a one-week international air show starting on Nov 16.
As one of the five major international air shows around the world, the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition has always attracted elite aerobatic teams from home and abroad.
The unnamed officer said the military decided to redesign the paint scheme of the J-10 fighter jets in 2009 after many netizens had criticized it for being "too garish" and not representative of the plane's superior performance.
The Central Academy of Fine Arts was selected to carry out the design work. Zhang Yutong, one of the designers, said it was challenging to live up to the expectations of military fans fascinated by the J-10.
"As it is the most advanced fighter jet in China, their high expectations are understandable," Zhang said, adding that some fans had even demanded that the J-10 be painted with an open-mouthed shark on it.
A PLA air force officer introduces the J-10 fighter jet of the August 1st Aerobatic Team to reporters at a military base in Tianjin on Tuesday. [Photo/China Daily]
The designers put three paint schemes for the J-10 on the Internet in June to enable people to choose the best. In 18 days, 1.15 million netizens from 117 cities across the country and overseas participated in the poll.
Among the three schemes, which featured a sword, a dragon and a thunderbolt, the sword proved to be the most popular.
"The dark blue represents the calmness of the Chinese air force and it makes the J-10 look more delicate and distinctive," Zhang said.
The domestically developed J-10 fighter jet, which represents the highest level of Chinese manufacturing, is a very good platform for combat, according to Senior Colonel Yan Feng, who is in charge of the August 1st Aerobatic Team.
"We pilots have a strong sense of pride every time we take off," said the 46-year-old command pilot.
Yan also said his team is now among the top aerobatic teams around the world. "Our intensity of action and density of planes during flights can match another two teams in the world, which fly third-generation fighter jets," he said, referring to the Thunderbirds of the US Air Force and the Russian Knights of the Russian Air Force.
The August 1st Aerobatic Team is currently conducting test flights to adjust to the plane's new design, which could have an impact on their performance during dangerous stunts, Yan said.
Yu Yang and Wang Di contributed to this story.