Nanchang Q-5

The Nanchang Q-5 (Chinese: ?-5; pinyin: Qiang-5; NATO reporting name: Fantan), also known as the A-5 in its export versions, is a Chinese-built jet ground-attack aircraft based on the Soviet MiG-19. Its main role is close air support.

Nanchang Q-5
Class Aircraft
Type Attack
Manufacturer Hongdu Aviation Industry Group
Production Period 1969 - 2012
Origin China
Country Name Origin Year
China 1965
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
China 1970 View
Pakistan 1970 2011 View
Sudan View
Myanmar View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Hongdu Aviation Industry Group 1969 2012 1300 View

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. 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. 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.

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.

The first prototype was completed in 1960, but the political climate in China resulted in the project being canceled in 1961. A small team kept the program alive until it was re-opened in 1963, when production was shifted to Nanchang. The first flight finally occurred on 4 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).

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 Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, 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.

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. 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. 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.

During the 1996-2001 phase of the Afghan civil war Pakistan Air Force A-5s (of the now disbanded 16th and 26th Squadrons) are reported to have flown strike missions against Northern Alliance positions as part of the Pakistani support to the Taliban.

Some Myanmar Air Force Q-5C jets accidentally dropped bombs on a Chinese village in Gengma County, Yunnan close to the border, killing 4 villagers, with the PLA responding by deploying HQ-12 surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets.

Role Ground-attack aircraft
National origin People's Republic of China
Manufacturer Nanchang Aircraft Mfg. Co.
First flight 4 June 1965
Introduction 1970
Retired 2011 by Pakistan Air Force
Status Out of production. Active service.
Primary users PLA Air Force
Pakistan Air Force (historical)
Myanmar Air Force
Produced 1969–2012
Number built 1,300 (approx.)
Developed from Shenyang J-6

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 3 in)
  • Wing area: 27.95 m² (300.9 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 6,375 kg (14,050 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 9,486 kg (20,910 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 11,830 kg (26,080 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Liming Wopen-6A turbojets
  • Dry thrust: 29.42 kN (6,614 lbf) each
  • Thrust with afterburner: 36.78 kN (8,267 lbf) each


  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.12 [14] (653 knots, 752 mph, 1210.23 km/h)
  • Range: 2,000 km (1,100 NM, 1,200 mi (1,900 km))
  • Combat radius: **On lo-lo-lo mission: 400 km (250 mi) with maximum payload
  • On hi-lo-hi mission: 600 km (370 mi) (320 NM, 370 mi (600 km))
  • Service ceiling: 16,500 m (54,133.9 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 103 m/s (20,300 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 423.3 kg/m² (86.7 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.63


  • Guns: 2× 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
    BL755 cluster bombs
    Matra Durandal anti-runway bombs


  • Fuel tanks: 105 US gal (400 L), 200 US gal (760 L), 300 US gal (1,100 L)

End notes