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[INSIGHT] Chine: détecter d'anciens chasseurs transformés en drones

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[INSIGHT] Chine: détecter d'anciens chasseurs transformés en drones


(contenus en anglais uniquement)

[This situation report is a non-exhaustive account of observations made during the below-mentioned period based on the non-exhaustive information obtained at this date. It has no operational purpose. Preligens reserves the right to modify at all time all or part of this document. Preligens assumes no liability for any error or omission in the content herein and waives any responsibility arising out of its use.]



  • The PLA, the Chinese Army, stocks more than 4,500 old decommissioned J-6 fighter jets, mostly active in the 1970s. 
  • At Dingxin PLA Air Force Test and Training base in the Gobi Desert, these former fighter jets are converted into unmanned aerial targets.
  • These UAVs are deployed for more operational purposes at Longtian Military Air Base, the closest Chinese air base to Taiwan (less than 180 miles from Taipei)
  • At Longtian airbase, converted J-6s are used as decoys to deceive and overwhelm enemy air defenses. Using them over Taiwan could deplete enemy missile defense resources and expose anti-air positions.
  • In this insight, find out what Preligens’ strategic site monitoring software has spotted on the Longtian and Dingxin sites over the last month.


Asset history

The Shenyang J-6 (Chinese: 歼-6; designated F-6 for export versions; NATO reporting name: Farmer) is the Chinese-built version of the Soviet MiG-19 'Farmer' fighter aircraft.

The J-6 fighter jet is the first generation of supersonic fighter jets independently produced by China. The first one was delivered in 1964 and production was stopped in 1986. On June 12, 2010, the domestically produced J-6 aircraft officially withdrew from the Air Force's preparation sequence.

The J-6 was the main force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force from the 1960s to the 1970s. A total of more than 5,000 aircraft were produced.

Converting the J-6

Starting 1995, the PLAAF started to reuse well-conserved older J-6 models to transform them into training UAVs: aerial targets that can be shot down by the most modern fighters.
Some time later, the PLAAF started to convert the J-6 into a combat drone. The retired J-6 modified J-6 unmanned attack aircraft has dismantled the ejection seat, oxygen system, cannon, cockpit avionics, and auxiliary fuel tank.

Use in training and operations

Analysts identify two uses of those retrofitted UAVs:

  • as aerial targets to train modern aircraft pilots in realistic conditions. This use can be seen at Dingxin air base in the Gobi Desert. 
  • to decoy enemy anti-aircraft defenses by providing airspace saturation.
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