Design and development
In 1969, the PLAAF issued an order to build a small, inexpensive, STOL (short takeoff and landing) lightweight fighter in order to replace the MiG-19. Two designs were submitted, namely the Shenyang J-11 and the Nanchang J-12. Prototypes of the J-12 were designed by Lu Xiaopeng and built by the Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company (NAMC). The J-12 was a small single-seat jet fighter with low-set, swept wings, swept control surfaces, tubular fuselage, and nose intake with small or absent shock cone and flight testing began on 26 December 1970. Due to less than satisfactory performance, three additional J-12I prototypes were built with improvements such as simplified control surfaces, a lighter area ruled fuselage, and revised intake.
In 1977 the development of J-12 was abandoned, due to inadequate firepower and engine thrust and also likely due to the introduction of the Chengdu J-7, that offered superior performance and was based on the Soviet MiG-21F.
The J-12 prototypes had accumulated 61 hours in 135 flights by 1977. In 1990s, Lu Xiaopeng proposed upgrading the J-12's fighter design with a reduced Radar cross-section to make the J-12 stealthy, and suggested a modified J-12 fighter to a carrier based fighter for PLA Navy, but none of the proposals were accepted.