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J-11 (Jianjiji-11) - Variants


Images have emerged on Chinese military web forums suggesting sensor upgrades to Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-11A combat aircraft, with reports noting that two regiments have received these modifications so far. Upgraded J-11As appear to have four new missile approach warning systems (MAWS), two just aft the cockpit facing forward and two pointing aft on the vertical stabilisers. Similar systems have previously been fitted to the H-6M and H-6K strategic bombers.

Chinese reports also indicate that cockpit displays have been upgraded and that an upgraded fire control system allows the fighter to use Russian Vympel R-77 or Chinese Luoyang PL-10 medium-range air-to-air missiles. Available imagery cannot confirm these upgrades. There is little to indicate that the J-11A's radar has also been upgraded. However, China's development of new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the Chengdu J-10B and J-20 fighters indicates that radar upgrades are possible for older SAC J-11s.


J-11B is the new version of the J-11, s a 4.5-generation multirole version which uses more Chinese components, including radar, engine, and missiles. Chinese sources claim the J-11B has the same overall performance as the US third-generation fighter F-15E. The J-11B was rejected by the Air Force because of tremor during its test flight in 2009. The 2016 test flight showed that the Shenyang plant seems to have made improvements to the original second batch of J-11B.

The chief program engineer for J-11B is Mr. Guo Dianman. China is interested in reducing its reliance on foreign technology for both cost reasons and a desire to improve its domestic research and design. It is reported that one regiment of J-11B are currently in service. In May, 2007, the existence of J-11B was finally acknowledged by the Chinese government for the first time when the state-run Chinese TV stations first aired the report on J-11B in PLAAF service.

The J-11B is superior to Su-27SK in a number of areas. The J-11B will be equipped with domestic engines, and is aerial refueling capable. The extensive adoption of composite material (mainly carbon fiber) for the surfaces reduced the weight of the aircraft by more than 700 kg, while the life of the composite parts increased over 10,000 hours in comparison to the original parts built from steel. Redesigned engine intakes air inlets reduce the radar cross section, which coupled with the adoption of composite material, and application of radar absorbent material, reduced the radar cross section (RCS) of 15 square meters of Su-27SK to just >3 square meters of J-11B.

Full air-to-surface / sea capability is added and J-11B is able to launch various precision guided air-to-surface and air-to-sea munitions. The J-11B is be equipped with WS-10 engines (will be upgraded to WS-10A in the future) turbofan engine, which is claimed to be cheaper to operate than the AL-31F. With the exception of Su-35 and Su-37, J-11B is the first of the Su-27 family to incorporate an on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS). Due to the adoption of western style design features such as fully digitized computerized controls and solid state micro-electronics, the Chinese claimed that the domestic OBOGS is superior than the analog system Russia offered to China.

As the main fighter of the Chinese Air Force, the J-11B also needs to be equipped with active phased array fire control radar. Compared with the currently equipped mechanical scanning radar, active phased array radar has higher average power and stronger detection capability, especially With multi-target attack capability, the J-11B is a heavy-duty fighter that can mount multiple air-to-air missiles. Equipped with an active phased array fire control radar, it can give full play to its strong mount capability.

Some of the photos of the new J-11B variant show that the aircraft still has a pitot tube on the center front of its radar dome, and usually the pitot tube has compatibility issues with an AESA radar, so if the aircraft is indeed equipped with an AESA radar remains to be determined. China upgraded the J-11B with AESA radar (most likely the same AESA Radar seen on the J-15 and J-16). China 's State Television (CCTV) Said: J-11B radar has 1760 T/R modules, has a search range of 450 km against 1 m^2 target and 250 km against a 0.1 m^2 target.

The J-11B also uses a plane integrated pulse Doppler radar developed by China to replace the Russian N-0001 radar. It is reported that both the A and B versions of the J-11 series have begun to use this Chinese-made radar. Its antenna section is slightly larger than N-0001, so the nose radome is different from SU-27SK.

The new radar is able to track 8 targets at the same time, and engage 4 of the 8 tracked targets simultaneously. When used against large surface targets such as a destroyer, the maximum range of the radar was in excess of 350 km. The range against aerial targets was not disclosed, but it would be definitely much less, as in all radars. Chinese official report claimed that the radar was better than the 147x/KLJ-X radar family, but stopped short of identifying the exact type. Contrary to many erroneous comments by many domestic Chinese sources, which mistakenly claimed that the radar had adopted a passive phased array antenna, the official claims of many Chinese governmental sources such as technical journals and publications revealed that the radar still adopted a slotted planar array antenna.

In order to take advantage of the active phased array radar, the airborne weapon will be upgraded from the current PL-12 to the PL-15. Compared with the former, the PL-15 uses a double pulse solid rocket motor and has a larger launch envelope. The tactical and technical indicators are at or close to the level of AIM-120C. In the era of active radar-guided air-to-air missiles, it is also important to improve the level of airborne electronic warfare systems. At present, advanced foreign fighters have been equipped with towed decoys, so the upgrade of the J-11B should also be on the plane The onboard electronic warfare system is equipped with towed decoys to improve the aircraft's survivability in modern air combat.

Fully digitized solid-state avionics has replaced the analog one in Su-27SK. In the mid-2007, the Chinese governmental television station CCTV-7 released news clips of Chinese pilots in the cockpits of J-11B, with the LCD of glass cockpit of J-11B clearly visible, despite that the official report itself only claimed replacing the original avionics with domestic Chinese fully digitized solid-state avionics, and nothing of EFIS or glass cockpit was mentioned. In comparison to the earlier EFIS on J-11A, the most obvious difference is that LCD MFDs on J-11B are aligned in a straight line, instead of the middle one being slightly lower. The arrangement, appearance and layout of MFDs and EFIS of J-11B are similar to the general design concept of the west.

The J-11B is less advanced than other Chinese fighters like the J-20, and some military observers said the J-11B's radar could be outdated in a way that it cannot see far enough what the PL-15 can hit at maximum range. China reportedly developed a new variant of the J-11B fighter jet with new radar that can see farther and enable long-range missile use, a move that will significantly boost the Chinese Air Force's capability, military experts said on 05 NOvember 2019. The fighter jet was seen in a China Central Television (CCTV) report on the upcoming 70th founding anniversary of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force. It was participating in a systematic combat drill at a desert, CCTV said, without elaborating.

Unlike other J-11Bs that serve in the PLA Air Force, which have black radar domes (radome), this particular J-11B has a white one, suggesting it is equipped with a new type of radar, reported Weihutang, a column on military affairs affiliated with CCTV. "The reported new radar is likely an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which has longer detection capabilities, can better identify targets and enable the use of long-range air-to-air weapons," Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Tuesday, noting that the Su-27, from which the J-11B was developed, uses mechanically scanned radar that has low detection distance and scan speed. This will also allow the J-11B to conduct a wider variety of missions, including reconnaissance over sky, sea and land, Wang said.

A J-11B was spotted in early 2019 carrying what seemed to be a powerful PL-15 long-range air-to-air missile. Military observers said back then the advanced missile's range is longer than the detection range of the fighter's outdated radar, so the fighter might have to rely on data from other warplanes, like early warning aircraft, to target its enemies. But with the new radar, the J-11B variant could launch a PL-15 at maximum efficiency on its own, analysts said.

The J-11B variant's participation in a military drill means it could have joined military service, or it is also possible that it was conducting a test or evaluation on its capabilities, Wang said. If China's vast fleet of J-11s can be outfitted with AESA radars, it will significantly boost the PLA Air Force's overall combat capability, Wang said.


J-11BS is the tandem twin seater version of J-11B, reportedly under development as the Chinese version of Su-30MK2/3. It is rumored that the letter S stands for Shuangzuo, meaning twin seater in Chinese. The existence of J-11BS was officially acknowledged by the Chinese government in 2007, and a large model of J-11BS was revealed publicly on 09 June 2007 during the opening ceremony of the new aerospace museum of the Harbin Institute of Technology on the 20-year anniversary of the establishment of its school of astronautics, where it is displayed. Some sources outside China claimed the sucedessful development of J-11BS is one of reasons that China lacked interest in purchasing Su-30MK3, but the Chinese government appears to be cautious. with official reports only claiming that the project is very promising, instead of declaring it is successful already.

When developing the J-11B, Shenyang Aircraft Co Ltd designers completed the J-8IIACT project and mastered the three-axis four-redundancy digital fly-by-wire control system technology. Therefore, I wanted to apply this technology to the J-11B, but the Air Force also proceeded from a prudent perspective and did not agree. In the end, the J-11BS was the first to be equipped with a domestically-made digital fly-by-wire control system. The Air Forces decision to take the test was correct. The J-11D, as the latest model, must also use a domestic digital fly-by-wire control system.

Photos posted on social media from a Peoples Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) recruitment video seemed to show a new anti-radiation missile under the wings of a J-11BS fighter jet, signaling that China may have a potent new weapon for hunting enemy radars. In a December 2020 recruitment video by the Chinese air force, military analysts spotted a curious new weapon lurking under the wing of a J-11BS fighter. According to German aviation author and expert Andreas Rupprecht, the so far unknown missile is likely an anti-radiation missile, used to target enemy radar systems as part of a mission called Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD).

Rupprecht also noted the photo is the first to show a J-11BS in the new low-visibility paint scheme being slowly implemented by the PLA. The paint not only helps the aircraft to hide visually, but also dampens its radar return as well - an extremely valuable quality for radar-hunting fighters.


J-11C is the aircraft carrier version of J-11B, J-11C under development, reportedly as the Chinese version of Su-33. The first mock-up of J-11C was displayed in public at air shows and defense exhibitions in China in late 2002, and the mock-up is shown to be able to be armed with all currently available Chinese anti-ship missiles, as well as air-to-air missile including PL-12.


The upgraded D variant of Chinas 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 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.

The J-11B is actually the domestically produced Su-27SK (T-10S), while the J-11D refers to the Su-30MKK, which uses a large number of Su-35 (T-10M) components. The main difference between the two is that the T-10M adds a heavy-duty pylon with a load of about 2000 kg at the root of the wing, thereby strengthening the wing and fuselage, so that the heavy-duty weapon pylon of the T-10M reaches 8 However, there are only 6 T-10S. Because the Su-27 adopts the layout of the belly air intake, the mounting space is limited. The fuselage pylon is limited to mount large air-to-ground weapons, and the wings increase these two Heavy-duty weapon racks are precious.

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, incorporates technologies developed for the J-16 fighter jet. It is 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-12 (SD-10).

The J-11D is called the "Chinese version of the Su-35". In fact, it is China's way of trying to fundamentally improve the performance of the Su-27 heavy fighter family that has nothing to do with the Su-35. The J-11D has different airborne electronic equipment, and the fuselage design and pneumatic aspects of the two are also very different.

Despite impressive technical characteristics and capabilities, the Chinese J-11D jet is not a true analog of the super-maneuverable Russian Su-35 multirole fighter. It is a separate and independent attempt to radically increase capabilities of heavy fighters belonging to the Su-27 series. The radio electronic equipment installed aboard the J-11D differs from that of the Su-35, and the two aircraft also differ from one another in terms of frame construction and aerodynamics.

The first J-20s were apparently being delivered to PLA training units in 2017, but its hard to predict when these aircraft will be ready for combat deployment. And, due to their rather high cost, China will have to produce these warplanes alongside the less sophisticated fourth-generation fighters. This, in turn, means that upgrading and improving the J-11 series aircraft will continue to be very important for China. This is why Beijing is so keen to study the Su-35 design and, possibly, to continue purchasing Russian engines.

China signed a contract to purchase a shipment of D-30KP2 engines for Y-20 transport aircraft, along with a contract for new AL-31F engines for Chinese fighter jets; each contract is worth $658 million. It is unclear exactly which type of fighters they want to outfit with these engines: it could be both J-20 and J-16 aircraft. In any case, while Chinas industrial sector has made considerable strides in providing an adequate supply of engines to the nations air forces, Beijing is still far from being completely self-sufficient in that area, especially when it comes to the new types of aircraft.

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Page last modified: 27-12-2020 19:14:21 ZULU