The J-11 designation was originally applied to Shenyang Aircraft Factory design responding to a 1968 PLAAF requirement for a replacement for the J-6 (MiG-19 Farmer). Nanchang Aircraft Factory proposed the J-12 to this requirement. The Shenyang proposal was powered by one British Spey-512 afterburning turbofan engine and followed a conventional light fighter design with swept back wings and fuselage-side mounted inlets. The J-11 was a sophisticated design for its time, but the British Spey-512 engines would have been "difficult" for Communist China to obtain at that time. The Shenyang factory was ordered to concentrate its energies on the J-8, and the J-11 never went further than the blueprint stage.
J-11 [Su-27 FLANKER]
Su-27UBK / Su-30MKK/ Su-30MK2
Codenamed `Flanker' by NATO, the J-11 [Su-27 / Su-30MKK / Su-30MK2] is a multi-role fighter bomber and air superiority aircraft which can also be used in the maritime strike role. The Flanker has an operational radius of around 1500 km, and is equipped with an inflight refuelling facility extending their radius by another 500 km. Although normally configured for conventional operations, the J-11 could provide China with a high-performance nuclear-capable strike aircraft. The acquisition of Su-27, after China had attempted for years to develop the J-10 aircraft with equivalent technology to perform similar functions, demonstrates a lack of confidence in domestic industrial capabilities.
\ Since China received its first 4th-generation Su-27 fighter in 1992, training, tactics and operational concepts progressed slowly as China integrated the new technologies and capabilities into the force structure. This protracted learning phase has allowed China to prepare for the introduction of larger numbers of 4th-generation aircraft into its inventories. By 2002 new Su-27s and Su-30s had been more rapidly integrated into operational units. Meanwhile, air combat tactics continue to evolve and training became more advanced.
Jane's Defence Weekly reported on March 31, 2004 that by early 2004, China had received some 154 Sukhoi aircraft (this number does not include roughly 100 aircraft built in China), mostly Su-27SK fighters, and that by the end of 2004 roughly 273 Sukhoi fighters would be in service.
The upgraded D variant of China’s J-11 fighter jet, a copy of the Russian Sukhoi Su-27, made its maiden flight 29 April 2015. The jet reportedly has new radar and an air refueling system. The J-11D model, which was tested in the air for the first time on Wednesday, incorporates technologies developed for the J-16 fighter jet. It was reported to have better active phased array radar, use more composite materials in its wings and tail, and be capable of firing more advanced air-to-air missiles like PL-10 and PL-15. Photos of the J-11D prototype tested at a Shenyang Aircraft Corporation airfield also showed an in-flight refueling probe installed on the port side similar to the arrangement used on J-15.
In 1991 China purchased an initial batch of 24 single-seat SU-27s for about $1 billion which were delivered in late 1992 and based at Wuhu Air Base, 250 kilometers west of Shanghai. In May 1995 China purchased a second batch of 24 SU-27 aircraft through Russia's main state-run arms exporting company Rosvooruzheniye. These were delivered in April 1996 and based at Suixi Air Base in Southern China. The 48 Su-27-type aircraft include 36 one-seat Su-27SK manufactured in Komsomolsk-on-Amur and 12 two-seat Su-27UB manufactured in Irkutsk, worth a total of 1.7 billion dollars.
In February 1996 Moscow and Beijing reached a $2.2 billion agreement for Chinese co-production of the Sukhoi Su-27. Under the initial agreement China would produce up to 200 aircraft [without the right to reexport the jets to third countries] from Russian-made components over three to five years. The total cost of the contract is $1.5 billion, including $650 million for technical documents and $850 million for parts, instruments and equipment provided by Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Enterprise imeni Yuriy Gagarin [KnAAPO], which is to deliver around 30 percent of all completing parts for 200 Chinese SU-27SK jets. Russia has licensed coproduction of Su-27s to the Shenyang Aircraft Company, which can produce fifteen to twenty per year. In the period 1998-2000 Shenyang planned to assemble only 15 Su- 27SK fighters of the 200 permitted under the terms of the contract. The first two aircraft built at Shenyang flew at the end of 1998. By 2004, China had only received components kits for 95 aircraft, as a contract covering the additional 105 kits was still pending.
In mid-1999 Russia agreed to sell as many as 72 of the front-line Sukhoi-30 variant of the SU-27 jet to China, in addition to the Su-27 aircraft previously agreed to. As a result of the 7th session of the Russian-Chinese commission on economic cooperation held in Beijing in August 1999, the two countries reached a general agreement on the deliveries to China of the Su-30MKK two-seat multipurpose fighters, worth a total of about two billion dollars. Under the agreement, Russia will start delivery of about 40 the jets to China between 2000 and 2002. The Sukhoi Design Bureau developed state-of-the-art Su-30MKK (modernised, commercial for China) especially for the specific requirements of the Chinese military. At the same time, negotiations began for Moscow to grant a licence for the production of another 250 Sukhoi-30 fighters, though it is unclear whether this production would be in addition to or instead of the licensed production of the SU-27.
At the end of 1999 it was anticipated that the Irkutsk aviation industrial association will deliver to China a total of 28 training and combatant Su-27UB fighters. The delivery would be implemented to repay the state debt, and 8 planes would be delivered to China within the year 2000, 10 planes in the year 2001 and 10 planes in the year 2002.
It was announced in Moscow in December 2000 that Russia had supplied China with 10 two-seat Su-30MKK fighters for the first time. Russia had contracted to supply China 40 Su-30s in 1999, and Russian officials have said that they expect the Chinese to procure another batch of 40 Su-30s. There were also reports that China may be given the licence to produce the aircraft in large numbers.
The Su-30MKK for China is different in details from the basic Su-30MK. In June 1999 Russia agreed to sell 72 of these front-line Sukhoi-30 jet fighter-bombers to China. The aircraft building enterprise in Komsomolsk-on-Amur (KnAAPO) is likely to become the main supplier of a large lot of Su-30MKK fighter jets to China. The cost of one Su-30MKK fighter jet is estimated at $35 million - $37 million. At the same time, negotiations began for Moscow to grant a licence for the production of another 250 Sukhoi-30 fighters.
In late July 2001 China signed a contract with the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Production Association to supply upward of $2 billion worth of Su-30 MKK ground-attack planes. One report put the number of jets at 38 aircraft. The factory's 5,000 workers would be working until 2003 to fulfill the terms of the contract. Russia had already delivered between 70 and 100 Su-27s to China.
In July 2002 it was reported that China would buy around 30 Su-30MK2 naval fighters, on top of the 80 Su-30MKKs it bought in 1999 and 2001. The deal was estimated it to be worth at least $1.2 billion. The Su-30MK2, a modified version of the Su-30MKK, is a naval striker equipped with X-31A anti-ship missiles. Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Production Association is the maker of the plane.
Buying 30 more Sukhoi fighters would give China a total of as many as 400. China took delivery of 26 Su-27SK/UBKs in 1992 and another 22 in 1995. In 1996 China signed a contract to produce 200 Su-27SKs under license.
On February 14, 2003 the Washington Times reported that China had received its latest shipment of SU-30MK2s from Russia. Jane's Defence Weekly reported on 31 March 2004 that China had accepted 6 aircraft, and that China would receive 18 additional aircraft by the end of 2004, for a total of 24 (6 per quarter).
In March 2012 there were reports that Moscow and Beijing were close to striking a deal on China buying 48 Su-35 multifunctional fighter jets for $4 billion. China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) denied emphatically that such a deal was in the works, stating the press coverage is ‘not in accord with the facts’ and the Su-35 ‘does not fit China’s national situation’ (Caixun, March 12; Global Times, March 12).
The Su-35 completed its first flight in 2008 and is an upgrade of the older Su-27 model. The main reason for this remarkable purchase could be Russia’s jet engines. The Su-35 flies with two next generation AL-41F1C engines that enable it to achieve supersonic speed without afterburner, a feature attributed to 5G jets. And AL-41F1C actually is a de-rated version of the AL-41F1 (117C) engine used on the T-50 PAK-FA, Russian 5G fighter jet.
The Russians agreed to sell only assembled planes and in addition insist on signing a special anti-copycat agreement, designed to prevent the Chinese from copying the vehicle and its parts, as has happened before. This demand became a stumbling block in the negotiations. Russia has great doubts concerning the practicability of selling AL-41F1C engines to Beijing without the special replication clause. This does not suit China because in the end they need technology to organize a production line for such engines of their own.
Before President Xi Jinping’s March 2013 visit to Russia and Africa, China and Russia signed two major contracts on the sale of arms. According to the contract, the two countries will jointly produce four Lada Class air-independent propulsion submarines which will then be sold to China. China will also buy 24 Su-35 jet fighters from Russia. Experts said that the Su-35 will reduce the pressure on China’s air-defense before China’s stealth fighter is put into use. This was the first time China had bought important military equipment from Russia in ten years.
Sources claim that the two countries spent the last five years in talks to buy the jets, but it was not until Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu's visit to China in December 2012 that the two sides decided on 24 jets of the kind. The deal was said to be worth more than US$1.5 billion and, if possible, the first jet will be delivered in 2015.
Beijing sought a promise from Moscow to set up a maintenance center in China as part of the contract and Chinese experts must be able to maintain and repair Su-35 fighters with training provided by Russian advisers. China has documented issues producing fighter jet engines, and even the ability to take apart and dissect Russia’s latest military wares would be of use.
Considering the long range of the SU-35, such a plane would be of great value to loiter over disputed territories in the East and South China Sea for extended periods of time. Indeed, if Beijing buys into all the talk about Air-Sea Battle (ASB) being all about deep strikes on the Chinese mainland, an advanced fighter jet to defend the homeland does not seem like a bad investment in the long term.
J-15 Flying Shark
J-15 is reported to be the first generation of Chinese shipborne fighter aircraft being developed by both 601 Institute and SAC for PLAN's first aircraft carrier. Initially rumors claimed that J-15 was a new semi-stealth design, but this design turned out to be a follow-on design which is in the early development stage at SAC. The J-15 aircraft is now believed to be based on Russian Su-33 structural configuration and flight control system as well as domestic J-11B radar and weapon systems. One Su-33 prototype (T-10K-3) was acquired from Ukraine around 2001 and has been studied extensively.
The integration of the Su-27 into the Chinese Air Force initially proved difficult, particularly with respect to training and maintenance costs. In March 1996, the PLA Air Force and other PLA elements conducted joint-service exercises in the Taiwan Strait. During these exercises the JL-11 [Su-27] fired a variety of air-to-ground rockets, and also dropped four deceleration bombs similar to the US MK82 Snake-Eye, the first time that such bombs have been shown publicly. These exercises clearly stressed the bombing capabilities of the JL-11, suggesting that radar and computer software improvements to its air-to-surface attack capacities may have incorporated the advanced SU-35 fire control equipment and functions to provide high accuracy munition delivery.
In January 2004 the inevitable Richard D. Fisher wrote that " By 2005 to 2006 the PLA could have about 400 Sukhoi fighters of the Su-27SK, Su-27UBK, Su-30MKK, Su-30MKK2 and J-11 versions. ... the PLA is on its way to creating the largest fleet of Sukhoi Su-27/30 fighters in the world. By 2006 it at least possible that the PLAAF will have about 50 Su-27SKs, 42 Su-27UBKs, about 116 Su30MKK/MKK2s, and as many as 200 J-11s. .... But when considering a second co-production contract, by 2010 the total number of Sukhois in the PLA could grow by another one to two hundred. This compares to about 400 credited to the Russian Air Force, of which a much smaller number could be considered operational."
By the year 2011 China was the operator of the world's second largest fleet of Flankers, with about 73 Su-30MKK and 24 J-11B attack aircraft, 43 Su-17SK and 95 J-11A fighters, 40 Su-27UBK trainers in service with the PLAAF [for a total of 275], and at least 24 in service with the PLAN, for a grand total of about 300 airframes, about half the number that Fisher and many others would have anticipated.
By one Russian account, China tried to sell clones of the Russian jets at discount prices on the international arms market ($10 million for a J-11, while the Russian original Su-27 is well over $30 million). But the copycat of the Soviet AL-31F engine made by China is not in the same league as the Russian analog for reliability and durability.
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