J-15 Flying Shark (Jianjiji-15 Fighter aircraft 15) / F-15

The J-15 Flying Shark, China's first carrier-based fighter, said to be a Chinese copy of the Sukhoi Su-33, is comparable to the US F/A-18 Hornet. 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). The J-15 reportedly conducted its first test flight on August 31, 2009, powered by Chinese WS-10 turbofan engines. The first takeoff from a simulated ski jump was reportedly conducted on 06 May 2010. Presumably, China will take another few years to conduct flight tests J-15. It is 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 are 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 and the forums 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.

Many other technical details about J-15 is not yet known. Like the Su-33, the J-15 is designed to take off from a ski jump rather than a catapult. Judging from the photos, the J-15 has the same build airframe as the Su-33, built along the lines of integral triplane with front horizontal tail. Chinese media claim that despite the remarkable external similarities of the J-15 and Su-33, the J-15 is based on the J-11B fighter, which in turn is an evolved copy of Su-27sk. The changes relate primarily to wider use of stealthy coatings, the design of the front horizontal empennage [the J-15's canards are somewhat different from those on the Su-33] and more complex trailing-edge flaps. Other differences from the Su-33 included advanced Chinese avionics with an active phased array radar antenna. Missile launch rails and wide-angle holographic Head Up Display (HUD) clearly indicated that the fighter is equipped with domestic sensors, avionics and weapon systems, just like later models of the Shenyang J-11 fighter. The electronics, radar, and weapons systems seem to be all Chinese and far newer than the circa 1980's equipment of the Russian Su-33.

Presumably, the J-15 uses the Shenyang WS-10A engines, capable of thrust with afterburner of 132 kiloneutons. It is believed that the enhanced version of the WS-10g engines are used on the prototype of Chinese fifth-generation J-20 fighter bomber which made its first flight on 11 January 2011.

The Su-33 is capable of speeds of up to 2,300 kilometers per hour and fly for distances of up to three thousand kilometers. The fighter has Al-31F series 3 engines, capable of thrust in afterburner of 122.6 kiloneutons. The aircraft armed with 30 mm gun and had 12 points for both guided and un-guided missiles and bombs. The total mass of the fighter's payload can be up to 6.5 tons. China had begun negotiations with Russia for the purchase of up to 50 Su-33, subsequently the projected order was reduced to only two aircraft. Russia then halted the negotiations in March 2009, given a well founded fear that China would simply copy the design, as had been done with the J-11B, which was a copy of the Su-27, developed in violation of agreements on the protection of intellectual property.

China's J-15 carrier-based fighter will not be able to compete with Russia's Su-33 fighter on global markets because it is inferior to the Russian aircraft, according to one Russian military analyst. "The Chinese J-15 clone is unlikely to achieve the same performance characteristics of the Russian Su-33 carrier-based fighter, and I do not rule out the possibility that China could return to negotiations with Russia on the purchase of a substantial batch of Su-33s," said Col. (Ret.) Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Defense Ministry's Public Council. Korotchenko said China was unlikely to solve technical problems related to the design of the folding wings and to develop a reliable engine for the aircraft.

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.

The J-15 carrier-borne fighter jet has filled the technological gap in the related fields. Compared with land-based aircraft, the carrier-borne aircraft raised more and higher requirements in technological aspects. In March 2013 Sun said the carrier-borne fighters must have the same combat capability as the land-based fighters in terms of bomb load, combat radius, and maneuverability; it must have good low-speed performance. It also raised higher requirements in terms of blocking landing in the sea and ski-jump takeoff.

"The engine is the key. If we can halve the fuel consumption, the combat radius will increase." Sun said that a J-15 equipped with domestic engines can have a combat radius of more than 1,000 kilometers. Considerable progresses have been made in fire control radar and guided missiles. "The indicators of J-15 are generally close to US F/A- 18 Hornet , reaching world-class standards."

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