The Shenyang H7a1 is a pure delta twin-engined, two-seat strike aircraft developed from the Dassault Mirage IV for use by the Chinese air forces.
Included in the deal of the century with the Red Chinese in 1979 was the licence to produce an austere version of the Mirage IV bomber to be produced by the Shenyang factory. In line with Chinese designations the aircraft given the H (bomber) 7 designation. It also took the name of Winter Falcon amongst the Chinese military.
Service HistoryEditCarrying home produced conventional and nuclear free fall weapons the H7 operated along the northern border with the Soviet Union until 1989 when the H7a1 version appeared in Chinese service with improved terrain following radar, uprated engines and the new JQ9 stand off nuclear missile with a 175 km range. Vastly improving the attack envelope of the H7 and increasing the headache of Soviet generals over the border.
Chinese War of Pacific AggressionEdit
The Shenyang H7 was heavily involved in the fighting in the Pacific that lead up to the '91 Disaster. On February 7th 1987 a force of People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Shenyang H7A1 fighter bombers hit Vietnamese troops based on Con Co island. This included the PLAAF's first large scale air refuelling operation.
The Sino-Soviet Border WarEdit
The Shenyang H7 and H7a1 were in the thick of the fighting on the border from the start but suffered heavily. Their first use occurred on August 7th 1990 when a force of twenty Shenyang H7a1s penetrated Soviet airspace without a fighter escort (although each aircraft was armed with short range infra-red AAMs for self defence). Flying in at low level they encountered very heavy ground and air defences resulting in half the force being destroyed before reaching their targets. Seven aircraft made it to the Soviet air bases where three more were downed. Of the entire force launched only four aircraft released their weapons on their targets. Another aircraft was lost on the return home. Of the twenty aircraft employed only three made it back.
The '91 disasterEditReports from both sides of the border are hard to come by and the full war service of the H7 and H7a1 has never been confirmed but it can be assumed that most of the strikes on Soviet cities in the Far East came from H7/H7A1s as no other aircraft had the range or capability to carry out these missions. Many of the tactical strikes that effectively stopped the Soviet thrusts into northern China must have come from this aircraft as it was one of the few able to operate in such a hostile air defence environment.
Post-war a few H7s were in service with the warlord states that emerged from the ashes of old China but within 5 years none were airworthy due to the lack of trained aircrew, maintenance facilities and spares. At this time not a single airframe is known to have survived to the present day.