[Interesting. The USAF also does the same thing. Jan]
China’s air force is converting obsolete fighter jets into drones.
The drones could be used as decoys or to carry out their own combat missions.
Unlike manned aircraft, it doesn’t matter if a drone gets shot down in combat.
It sure looks like China is converting Cold War fighters into flying drones. Dozens of Shenyang J-16 fighter planes, spotted in satellite photos, are still present at China’s military airfields, despite the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) retiring the type in 2010. China could use the planes in a conflict, either masquerading them as modern jets, or using the drones to carry out combat missions of their own.
Planet Labs—a San Francisco, California-based satellite data company—provided images of the planes to Defense News in October. At least 50 J-6s are visible on the tarmac at Liancheng Airbase.
The J-6 is a copy of the Soviet Union’s MiG-19, a single-seat, twin-engine fighter that made its debut in the mid-1950s. The fighter was provided to the People’s Republic of China, where at least 2,000 were manufactured under license by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation. The J-6 was China’s first supersonic fighter jet, but had several limitations, with early versions lacking an air-to-air radar.
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By the 1980s, the J-6 was already obsolete; the fact that it served until 2010 is indicative of how poorly equipped the PLAAF was until just recently.
According to Defense News, reports surfaced in China in 2013 that the PLAAF was turning the planes into drones, "for use either as a decoy to overwhelm adversary air defences by their sheer numbers, or as a rudimentary unmanned combat aircraft."