J-15 Flying Shark (Jianjiji-15 Fighter aircraft 15) / F-15
The J-15 Flying Shark, China's first carrier-based fighter, looks exactly like Su-33 / J-11 / J-16, with the addition of canard wings. 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.
It has the characteristics of large combat radius, good maneuverability, and large ammunition capacity. According to different combat tasks, it can carry multiple anti-ship missiles, air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles and precision guided bombs and other precision strike weapons to achieve all-sea and air-space strike operations. The capabilities and performances are comparable to those of the world’s main carrier fighters in active service such as the Russian Su-33 and the American F/A-18, so it is known as the fierce and powerful aerial "flying shark".
The Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) procured one of the first prototypes of the Soviet Su-33 carrier fighter T-10k-3 from Ukraine in 2001 (or by other reports, in 2005). One of the main problems that the Chinese needed to solve in terms of carrier-based aircraft was test flights. In this regard, China still needed to resolve a number of issues. Experts pointed out that the test flight should be carried out at the manufacturer, and all the test pilots are from the Air Force-China has no test pilots born in the naval aviation. After that, the J-15 participating in the test flight will be transported to the Space Test Flight Center in Yanliang, Shaanxi Province for further testing. As a fighter jet that will be equipped with an aircraft carrier, the Chinese Navy must build its own test center to test it and train its own test pilots there. It is reported that the Chinese Navy's flight test center has only just begun construction, and it is not yet known when the F-15 test will start there.
The J-15 was rolled-ou on September 9th, 2009, and the taxiing and wing folding tests were carried out in the same year. The J-15 reportedly conducted its first test flight on August 31, 2009, powered by Chinese WS-10 turbofan engines. However, an authoritative source said: There was no test flight in 2009. This movement may be related to the rejection of the second batch of J-11B fighters by the Navy and Air Force. For the sake of caution, the J-15 postponed the time to enter the test flight phase. The first takeoff from a simulated ski jump was reportedly conducted on 06 May 2010, and the second test flight took place on July 8 of the same year.
At the end of 2012, the J-15 successfully completed the take-off and landing of the aircraft carrier. Sun Cong is chief designer of the J-15 carrier-borne fighter jet and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. When the piloted J-15 fighter landed on the Liaoning aircraft carrier for the first time and successfully took off, Sun was filled with excitement.
China would take another few years to conduct flight tests J-15. It was also believed that the new aircraft will be launched after 2015, while the medium-aircraft carrier "Shi Lan" (ex-"Varyag") may begin running tests in 2011 and enter service in 2012.
On 26 April 2011, some Chinese media published a series of photos of the new J-15 carrier-based fighter (Jian-15) Flying Shark. These pictures were spyware style (as if the photographer was hiding the bushes), but the very fact of such photos in the press said that Beijing had no objection to their publication. The pictures J-15 were taken at the Factory No. 112, the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation factory in the North-East. The photos appeared on the Chinese military website cjdby.net and the forums fyjs.cn on 25 April 2011 and only the next day were they printed in official Chinese media. Presumably, the fighter had already passed a series of factory tests.
By early 2018 approximately two dozen J-15s have been produced so far in two production batches, and these are currently only able to operate from the ski jump-equipped Liaoning aircraft carrier and the Type 002 carrier being fitted out in the city of Dalian. The PLAN only had a single fixed-wing carrierborne aircraft type in service - the Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark multirole fighter. The J-15 is one of several Chinese-developed derivatives of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker family. Like the land-based J-11 and J-16, the J-15s are equipped with indigenous avionics and weapons, although the engines are still the Russian Saturn AL-31 turbofans. Approximately two dozen J-15s had been produced so far in two production batches, and these are currently only able to operate from the ski jump-equipped Liaoning aircraft carrier and the Type 002 carrier being fitted out in the city of Dalian.
China was known to have at least one of the six J-15 prototypes fitted with catapult launch accessories on its nose landing gear, and the country was carrying out catapult tests with this aircraft, using what are believed to be a steam catapult and EMALS at an air base near Huludao, Liaoning province in northern China.
The Chinese Navy received the Shandong, its second aircraft carrier, in December 2019 and a third one is reportedly being built, so China needs more J-15s to fulfill this potential, analysts said. The production of the J-15 is not being significantly delayed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The new priming paint shows that the J-15 is becoming more powerful, as it is being improved to boost the aircraft carriers' overall capability.
Five carrier-borne J-15 fighter jets with Flying Shark logos painted on their vertical stabilizers flew in a perfect V-shaped formation over Tian'anmen Square in Beijing on 01 October 2019 during a military parade to celebrate the People's Republic of China's 70th birthday. The J-15 fighter force, established in 2013, is China's sole carrier-based air combat unit. Representing a major milestone in the People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force's combat capability, the force's crown jewel has participated in all five military parades in China in the past four years.
Zhang Ye, the pilot of the lead aircraft in the J-15 formation, said it is no easy task flying a warplane at high speed, low altitude and in tight formation while coping with turbulence produced by aircraft ahead and distractions from celebrations on the ground. The carrier-borne fighter jet is one of the key frontiers in the PLA's endeavor to become a world-class force and the "iron fist" of the Chinese Navy, capable of protecting national sovereignty and overseas interests, he said. "Therefore, our parade is a powerful demonstration of the latest achievements of China's military reform, and an effective way to showcase our military strength and the ability to carry out our duties in the new era," he said.
"Our fighter force is very young, and we are extremely proud to be part of the national celebration. Although we have overcome difficulties regarding carrier-borne jet launching and landing, we still have a long way to go in terms of improving combat capability. This task is arduous, but we have the confidence to overcome all obstacles."
The latest batch of China's J-15 aircraft carrier-based fighter jet is getting new, green priming paint instead of the previous yellow one. Reports speculate it is a new anti-corrosion material that can enhance the aircraft's capabilities. A J-15, which is under assembly at the Shenyang Aircraft Company under the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), can be seen covered in green priming paint in a set of photos released by the company on its website. Previous J-15 fighter jets used yellow priming paint, according to multiple reports and documentaries. The color change in the priming paint likely indicates that it features a new type of anti-corrosion material, Weihutang, a column on military affairs affiliated with China Central Television, reported on 25 February 2020.
Aircraft carrier-based aircraft usually have stronger wear and tear properties compared to land-based aircraft due to extended exposure to sea water, salt haze, muggy weather and exhaust gas, and the priming paint is a key material that can protect the aircraft's structure from being corroded and damaged, Weihutang reported 25 February 2020. This will contribute to an increase in the J-15's usage, lower maintenance costs and greater lifespan, the report said.
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