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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.