On March 22, 2016, the day before the 18th anniversary of the J-10 fighter jet’s maiden flight, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering Song Wencong, also China’s aviation industry generation master and chief designer of the J-10 fighter jet, departed from the world forever.
Song Wencong is the chief designer of the J-10 fighter jets. He has had experienced the humiliating years of the fall of the homeland, and he knew the importance of having top-notch military strength. At the age of 56, he took over the mission of developing China’s own fighter jets. Song's earliest memory of fighter jets could track back to his childhood when the Japanese military bombed Kunming city of China’s Yunnan Province. He joined the army at the age of 19. Song once served as an air force mechanic and went to the battlefield of the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea. The successive pass-away of his fellows on the battlefield made him realize that the development of powerful equipment was imminent.
He was admitted to the PLA Military Engineering Institute after returning to China, and began his career in aircraft design. In 1986, he was appointed as the chief designer of the J-10 fighter jet at the age of 56 and began the independent research and development of the new-generation fighter jet.
At that time, the development of the J-10 was under enormous pressure. Every link was required to be completed beyond the normal, while the manufacturing team did not even have a real computer. In their shabby waistcoats, researchers had drawn tens of thousands of design drawings in a stuffy warehouse. They did not even have 17 days of break in a year.
Seventeen years later, on March 23, 1998, three days before Song's 68th birthday, a shining J-10 jet slid into the runway. Song followed closely, just like sending his child into the examination room. He witnessed the J-10 soaring into the sky.
Song rushed to the aircraft and hugged the test pilot tightly after the J-10 successfully landed. Since then, Song has changed his birthday to this day, March 23.
At the military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 2009, the PLA air force formation whizzed past. The Chinese homegrown high-performance all-weather J-10 fighter jets with independent intellectual property rights attracted the attention of the world.
On September 3, 2015, at the military parade marking the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, the J-10 fighter jets with independent intellectual property rights were still reviewed as a symbol of the Chinese Air Force 17 years after its maiden flight.