J-15S Two-Seat Fighter
China was developing a twin-seat variant of the J-15, with at least a single prototype known to be flying from Shenyang Aircraft Corporation’s facilities located in its namesake city. It is likely this variant, designated the J-15S, will operate from the future, catapult-equipped carrier China will build after the Type 002 as a two-seat multirole fighter alongside single-seat J-15s, much like the mix of single-seat Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornets and twin-seat F/A-18Fs onboard a typical U.S. Navy carrier air wing.
Future production batches of J-15s were also expected to be fitted with more modern avionics, such as those already fitted to the J-16 fighter that will included an active electronically scanned array radar. The electronic warfare/electronic attack technology being developed for a specialized variant of the J-16 may also be introduced on the J-15. However, these are unlikely to be fielded in the near term, but rather are expected to enter service in the early part of the next decade, at the earliest.
A single-seat fighter pilot may receive instruction in (a) a lead-in trainer, (b) a two-seat trainer version of the primary aircraft, (c) the primary aircraft and (d) a special equipment trainer. The American Navy's F/A-18A and C are single seat aircraft, while the F/A-18B and D are two seaters. The B model is primarily used for training, while the F/A-18A+ and C/D models are used for attack, tactical air control, and forward air control and reconnaissance missions. The F/A-18E/F is a twin engine, mid-wing, multi-mission tactical aircraft. The single-seat F/A-18E and the two-seat F/A-18F are high performance, twin-engine, mid-wing, and multi-mission tactical aircraft designed to replace the F/A-18C (single-seat) and F/A-18D (two-seat) aircraft as they reach the end of their service lives and retire.
A modified two-seat variant of the J-15 fighter jet was spotted at a Chinese aircraft carrier training base in a December 2018 TV program, suggesting the carrier-based warplane is already being tested and expected to greatly expand the carrier's combat capability with electronic warfare equipment that one pilot cannot manage. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy only operates the single-seat J-15 fighter jet on the Liaoning aircraft carrier at the moment, but military analysts predict the two-seat variant of the warplane would be able to join the ranks within two years.
The new fighter jet, which resembles the J-15 but with a larger cockpit, was seen parked in a hangar at an unspecified Chinese carrier-based aircraft training base in a China Central Television (CCTV) program 09 December 2018. CCTV's website, cctv.com, published a separate report on 11 December 2018 titled "China's most mysterious carrier-based fighter jet quietly appears, greatly accelerating the pace of aircraft carrier's combat capability," saying the aircraft in the program is a modified two-seat version of the J-15.
The variant might already be undergoing tests with the PLA Navy, the cctv.com report said. It is painted with military camouflage instead of the flight test color, which further supports the guess, military experts said. Modifying the single-seat J-15 into a two-seat version can greatly increase the combat capability of the fighter jet and the aircraft carrier, cctv.com reported. The new aircraft can also conduct electronic jamming missions, the report said.
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