The Nanchang Q-5 (Chinese: 强-5; pinyin: Qiang-5; NATO reporting name: Fantan), also known as the A-5 in its export versions, is a 1960s-design Chinese-built single-seat, twin jet engine ground-attack aircraft based on the Shenyang J-6. The aircraft is primarily used for close air support.

Q-5 / A-5
An A-5 of the Bangladesh Air Force
Role Ground-attack aircraft
National origin People's Republic of China
Manufacturer Nanchang Aircraft Mfg. Co.
First flight 10 June 1965
Introduction 1970
Retired 2011 by Pakistan Air Force
2015 by Bangladesh Air Force
2017 by PLA Air Force
Status Active service.
Primary users PLA Air Force (historical)
Pakistan Air Force (historical)
Myanmar Air Force
Bangladesh Air Force (historical)
Produced 1969–2012
Number built 1,300 (approx.)[1]
Developed from Shenyang J-6

Design and development Edit

The PRC was an enthusiastic user of the MiG-19, which it manufactured locally as the Shenyang J-6 from 1958. In August 1958, the People's Liberation Army requested development of a jet attack aircraft for the air support role.

Lu Xiaopeng was appointed chief designer of this project. Lu also designed the J-12 fighter jet.[2] Although based on the MiG-19, the new design, designated Qiangjiji-5 (fifth attack aircraft design), had a longer fuselage, area ruled to reduce transonic drag and accommodate a 4 m (13-ft) long internal weapons bay.[3] The air intakes were moved to the fuselage sides to make space in the nose for a planned target radar (which was never actually fitted). New wings with greater area and reduced sweep were incorporated. The Q-5 shares the J-6's Liming Wopen WP-6 A (Tumansky RD-9) turbojet engines. The redesign cost some high-altitude speed, but the Q-5 is as fast as the MiG-19/J-6 at low level, thanks largely to the area-ruled fuselage.

Q-5 in Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution.

Fixed armament of the Q-5 was reduced to two Type 23-1 23 mm cannon with 100 rounds per gun, mounted in the wing roots. Two pylons under each wing and two pairs of tandem pylons under the engines were provided in addition to the weapons bay. A total of 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) of ordnance could be carried internally, with an additional 1,000 kg externally. On many aircraft the weapons bay is now used primarily for an auxiliary fuel tank.

Production drawings were completed in 1960 allowing construction of prototypes to begin, but the political climate in China resulted in the project being canceled in 1961. A small team kept the program alive until it work restarted in earnest at Nanchang.[4] The first flight finally occurred on 10 June 1965. Series production began in 1969, with squadron delivery starting in 1970.

About 1,000 aircraft were produced, 600 of them being the updated Q-5A. A small number, perhaps a few dozen, Q-5As were modified to carry nuclear weapons; these are believed to retain their internal weapons bay. A long-range Q-5I, introduced in 1983, added a fuel tank instead of the internal weapons bay, compensating for that with the provision of two additional underwing pylons. Some of these aircraft serve with the PLA Navy, and have apparently been equipped with radar to guide anti-ship missiles. Subsequent minor upgrades include the Q-5IA, with a new gun/bomb sighting system and avionics, and the Q-5II, with radar warning receiver (RWR).[citation needed]

In the 1980s, the aircraft was exported to nations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and is often known as the A-5 in those nations.

Plans for an upgraded Q-5/A-5 with Western equipment and new navigation and attack (nav/attack) systems were largely aborted following the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, but the aircraft continues in service. It is a capable light attack aircraft, although its limited navigation and weapons-delivery systems are inferior to more modern aircraft.[citation needed]

In more recent years, the PLAAF has begun to field newer models of the Q-5, that incorporate some of the technology developed during the canceled Q-5M and Q-5K projects. The Q-5 introduces a nose-mounted laser rangefinder, and a laser designator is also likely to be fitted since the aircraft is said to be able to deliver laser-guided bombs.[5] The Q-5A variant is believed to be capable of delivering nuclear munitions. The Q-5D is an upgrade with new avionics, including a HUD and a new navigation system. The Q-5E and Q-5F models are reportedly being worked on, though little is known about them at this time.[citation needed] One of them could potentially be the new two-seater that has been seen in a few photographs, although the two-seater could bear the designation Q-5J.[citation needed]

Operational history Edit

The Sudanese Air Force employed its A-5 attack jets during the War in Darfur.[6]

In March 2015, some Myanmar Air Force A-5C jets flying sorties against the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, accidentally dropped bombs on a Chinese village in Gengma County, Yunnan inside the Chinese border, killing 4 villagers, with the PLA responding by deploying HQ-12 surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets.[7]

On 20 April 2017 two Q-5s were seen in Bohai Bay practicing air strikes against ground targets in the wake of increased tensions on the Korean peninsula.[8]

Variants Edit

Domestic variants Edit

Old Q-5s on the deck of the Minsk, at the Minsk World Theme Park
Old Q-5 numbered #0064
  • Q-5: Original production version with a total of 6 pylons, two under each wing and two under the fuselage, and was superseded by the Q-5A.
  • Q-5Jia: Q-5 modified to carry nuclear bombs, only a very limited number were built. 317Jia radar was tested as improvement program. One of such aircraft is currently on display at the aviation museum in Beijing.
  • Q-5Yi: Torpedo attacker for navy, only few manufactured. YJ-8 anti-ship missile was also being considered, but the program was cancelled due to budget problem even though the missile was well developed, and afterwards missile test launches were conducted from Type 24 missile boat. In eighties, YJ-81 was once mounted for test, but this proposition was soon rejected when it was decided to let JH-7 take the role.
  • Q-5I (Q-5A): Q-5 with the internal weapon bay replaced by internal fuel tank, increasing fuel capacity over 70%. Like all previous Q-5 variants, navigation was still a bottle neck with the result being that aircraft must fly longer times in more complex search patterns in long range strikes. However, this problem is somewhat reduced by the increased fuel capacity. An indigenous Type 79Y4 laser rangefinder developed by No. 613 Institute was fitted.
  • Q-5IA (Q-5B): Improved Q-5I, radar warning receiver and flare dispensers added, the original weapon aiming sight of the Q-5 was developed by No. 5311 Factory, and named as SH-1, short for She – Hong (Shoot-Bomb-1 / 射轰-1), which only had limited capability because attacks could only be carried out at a fixed angle. No. 5311 Factory developed an improved version SH-1I (射轰-1甲) to allow the attack to be carried out at different angles. Extra outer pylon under each wing added for PL-2/PL-5 air-to-air missiles, bombs or rocket launchers.
  • Q-5II (Q-5C): Q-5I with omnidirectional radar warning receivers. Later, Type 205 pulse doppler navigation radar was installed on several planes to solve the navigation problem.
  • Q-5III: Foreign trade variant, export name A-5III/A-5C, Project Long6(Dragon Six). Total 10 pylons, with 1 extra pylon under each wing for R-550/AIM-9 air-to-air missiles. See also Export variants.
  • Q-5 with indigenous nav/attack system: Project CC, Q-5I with indigenous Type 205 doppler navigation system, Q5HK-15 laser rangefinder and SH-1IIA sight. One year later, head-up display and air data computer were incorporated into system. The whole system finally got approved in 1992, and relevant technology was applied to Q-5D several years later.
  • Q-5IV (Q-5M, Q-5D(old)): Project CI. Joint Chinese-Italian project to upgrade the Q-5II with Italian avionics from the AMX International AMX attack fighter. Avionics would include a ranging radar, head-up display, inertial navigation system, air data computer and dual central computers all integrated via dual-redundant MIL-STD-1553B databus. Completion and first deliveries were to take place in late 1988 and early 1989 respectively.[9] 28.8% change in comparison to the closest earlier version. Two central computers like that of Q-5M and new RW-30 radar warning receivers were added. ALR-1 laser rangefinder and QHK-10 Head-Up Display developed by No. 613 Institute were added. Although the project was influenced after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, it was approved to continue by China and Italy in 1992, new upgrade items such as IFIR and ELINT, etc., were put into program. Due to the loss of time, it failed to enter production. See also Export variants.
  • Q-5D(C): Composite material demonstrator for Q-5D(old).
  • Q-5IIGai (Q-5K, Q-5E(old)): Project CF, joint Chinese-French project to upgrade Q-5II with French avionics, such as VE110 head-Up Display, ULIS91 inertial navigation system, TMV630 laser rangefinder and other electro-optics. Like the Q-5M/A-5M, the project was cancelled after the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989. So some indigenous equipment such as doppler radar, jammer etc., were used to achieve further progress. It was terminated in 1993.
  • Q-5D: Interim attack aircraft introduced during the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, the separate doppler navigation system and GPS of the Q-5C was replaced by the DG-1 integrated doppler navigation/GPS system. Other systems included the ALR-1 Laser rangefinder/Marked Target seeker and QHK-10 Head-Up Display. A new weapon aiming sight, the SH-1II (射轰-1乙), replaced the older SH-1I (射轰-1甲), and No. 5311 Factory managed to successfully integrate this sight with the new laser rangefinder and Type 205 navigation radar.
  • Q-5E: New pylon with ability to mount laser-guided bombs such as LS-500J LGB, fire control system also improved. Laser pod is absent from the plane due to weight issue.
  • Q-5F: Laser designator pod carrier, special large belly right pylon mounted for laser targeting pod, which is always false recognized as semi-buried electro-optical targeting pod.
  • Q-5G: Q-5E with belly conformal fuel tank to solve the range problem.
  • JQ-5J: Tandem two seater of Q-5. The manufacturer claimed that it can be used as forward air control like the OA-10A, and providing targeting information via data links. The rear seat is 286 millimetres higher than the front seat, enables the back-seat pilot to have a 5 degree field of vision, and the canopy opens to the right. When used as a trainer, the rear cockpit control can override that of the front cockpit.
  • Q-5L – Upgraded Q-5C, with LLLTV/FLIR vision systems for a day/night capability. Infrared imaging and television cameras were mounted on nose orb. Other improvements include Head Up Display, GPS Rx, INS, TACAN, and chaff/flare dispensers. Weapons capability include the Chinese LS-500J laser-guided glide bombs with a 12 km range. Optional belly conformal fuel tank.
  • Q-5N – Upgraded Q-5D with same upgrade program as Q-5L, main difference is navigation system of Q-5D.

Export variants Edit

Pakistani Nanchang A-5C of No.16 Squadron
  • A-5: Export designation for version of the Q-5 to North Korea in 70's that appeared in Chinese media. The designation contains more than one variant since the Chinese military aid to North Korea is protracted, but it's not clear whether this export version is derived from Q-5, Q-5A, Q-5I or Q-5IA.
  • A-5IIA: Modified version of Q-5II, sold to Sudan.
  • A-5IIIK: Export version of Q-5III sold to Myanmar.
  • A-5III/A-5C: Export version with western equipment upon customers' requests, such as flight instrumentation made by Rockwell Collins, and western ejection seat made by Martin-Baker. Added the capability to fire western weaponry such as the French SNEB, Matra Durandal ,R550 Magic or US AIM-9 Sidewinders. Exported to Pakistan.[10]
  • A-5IV/A-5M: Export version of Q-5M with more western equipment such as flight instrumentation made by Rockwell Collins, and western ejection seat made by Martin-Baker. Added the capability to fire western missiles such as the R550 Magic or AIM-9 Sidewinder. Myanmar ordered, but chose A-5IIIK instead after program extension. Evaluated by the Pakistan Air Force in 1990.[citation needed]

Operators Edit

Current operators Edit



Former operators Edit

  People's Republic of China


  North Korea

  • Korean People's Air Force received 40 airplanes in 1982.[14] However, they have never been seen in service nor captured on satellite imagery, and according to statistics from, they were withdrawn between 1990 and 1995.[15]


Specifications (Q-5D) Edit

View of Nanchang Q-5

Data from Wilson[1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 15.65 m (51 ft 4 in)
  • Wingspan: 9.68 m (31 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 4.33 m (14 ft 2 in)
  • Wing area: 27.95 m2 (300.9 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 6,375 kg (14,054 lb)
  • Gross weight: 9,486 kg (20,913 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 11,830 kg (26,081 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Liming Wopen-6A aftertburning turbojet engines, 29.42 kN (6,610 lbf) thrust each dry, 36.78 kN (8,270 lbf) with afterburner


  • Maximum speed: 1,210.23 km/h (752.00 mph, 653.47 kn) [21]
  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.12
  • Range: 2,000 km (1,200 mi, 1,100 nmi)
  • Combat range: 400 km (250 mi, 220 nmi) lo-lo-lo with maximum payload
600 km (370 mi; 320 nmi) hi-lo-hi
  • Service ceiling: 16,500 m (54,100 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 103 m/s (20,300 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 423.3 kg/m2 (86.7 lb/sq ft)


  • Guns:Norinco Type 23-2K 23 mm (0.906 in) cannon, 100 rounds per gun
  • Hardpoints: 10 (4× under-fuselage, 6× under-wing) with a capacity of 2,000 kg (4,400 lb)
  • Rockets: 57 mm, 90 mm, 130 mm unguided rocket pods
  • Missiles: PL-2, PL-5, PL-7 air-to-air missiles
  • Bombs: **50 kg (110 lb), 150 kg (330 lb), 250 kg (550 lb), 500 kg (1,100 lb) unguided bombs
  • Others:
    • Fuel tanks: 400 L (105 U.S. gal), 760 L (200 U.S. gal), 1,100 L (300 U.S. gal)

See also Edit

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists

Notes Edit

  1. ^ a b Wilson 2000, p. 107
  2. ^ "Q5 attack aircraft chief designer Lu Xiaopeng". Archived from the original on 18 August 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  3. ^ "Q5_attack_aircraft_weapon_bay". Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  4. ^ Gordon & Komissarov 2008, p. 147
  5. ^ "Qiang-5 (Q-5, A-5, Fantan) Ground Attack Aircraft". Archived from the original on 2010-01-16. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
  6. ^ Andersson, Hilary (13 July 2008). "China 'is fuelling war in Darfur'". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  7. ^ Feinberg, William (14 March 2015). "China summons Burmese ambassador after bomb kills four in Yunnan". East by Southeast. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  8. ^ Shim, Elizabeth. "China deploys fighter jets in drills near North Korea". Archived from the original on 2017-04-20. Retrieved 2017-04-20.
  9. ^ "West Updates China's Best", Flight International issue September 1987, page 45, archive URL: Archived 2012-10-25 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 27 February 2010.
  10. ^ Air Cdre (R) Muhammad Ali (3 March 2022). "Fantastic Fantan". Second to None. Directorate of Media Affairs Pakistan Air Force.
  11. ^ Hoyle & Fafard 2019, p. 44
  12. ^ Hoyle & Fafard 2019, p. 50
  13. ^ "Phased Out Aircraft". Bangladesh Air Force. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  14. ^ "Trade Registers". Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  15. ^ "Korean People's Army Air Force Equipment". Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  16. ^ "Fantastic Fantan". Second to None. Directorate of Media Affairs Pakistan Air Force. 3 March 2022.
  17. ^ Bokhari, Farhan (15 April 2011). "Pakistan retires A-5 'Fantan'". Jane's Defence Weekly.
  18. ^ Parsons, Gary (19 February 2010). "First JF-17 squadron forms". Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  19. ^ "Pakistan & China's JF-17 Fighter Program". 14 November 2011. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  20. ^ Parsons, Gary (12 April 2011). "JF-17 build-up progresses". Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  21. ^ " (Q-5 IA)". Archived from the original on 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2009-04-19.

References Edit

External links Edit