26 April 2011
Unofficially dubbed the J-15, the new People's Liberation Army navy's "flying shark" features enlarged folding wings, twin nose wheels and an arresting hook for use on China's first aircraft carrier. (photo : Zhang Xinliang)
Photos of a domestic-made shipborne J-15 heavy fighter were released on Sunday afternoon on Internet defense forums, prompting many military observers to coo about China's aircraft carrier capacity.
"Heavy shipborne fighters will boost the aircraft carrier fleet's air defense capability and enhance the fleet's strike ability," said Lan Yun, editor of the Modern Ships, a Beijing-based magazine following the latest developments in warships and defense equipment.
"They can carry many air-to-air missiles or air-to-surface missiles and other kinds of airborne munitions," Lan told the Global Times. "And they have the benefit of long combat radius."
J-15 shipborne heavy fighter (photo : Defense Update)
The fighters are to be stationed onboard the Chinese Varyag aircraft carrier, which is under renovation in Dalian, according to defense media. The giant ship has had radars and electronic warfare equipment installed, the Canada-based Kanwa Daily News reported.
on Sunday's photos of the fighter were taken outside the airfield of the No. 112 Factory of Shenyang Aircraft Industry Corporation, a company of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), and were uploaded onto the cjdby.net and fyjs.cn military forums after 1:30 pm on Sunday.
Videos and smaller photos showing the fighter flying over Shenyang had been circulating on the Internet since June. This time the fighter was seen with a standard naval paint scheme, according to photos released on Sunday.
The fighter has distinctive features that enable it to operate on an aircraft carrier, such as folding wings and strengthened landing gear, according to the Chinese Military Aviation (CMA).
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, the website reported, just like later models of the Shenyang J-11 fighter. The fighter dubbed J-15 is based on a Russian Su-33 in terms of structural configuration, it also said.
The Russian Ria Novosti news quoted a Russian military analyst saying that China's J-15 is inferior to the Russian aircraft. Lan Yun refuted the claim.
"The sensors, avionics and missiles of the Su-33 are already obsolete," Lan said, adding that the Chinese airborne electronics could offer more advanced technologies.
The first prototype J-15 was believed to have made its maiden flight on August 31, 2009, a month before the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, according to the Russian Ria Novosti news.
Lin Zuoming, AVIC general manager, published a poem in the China Aviation News newspaper one day later, celebrating the "breakthrough of scientific research."
On Sunday's photos came at about the same time as foreign media quoted a Chinese blogger claiming a Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing (V/STOL) shipborne fighter for the Varyag is conducting flight tests in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the US-based Defense News. The foreign reports were dismissed by an AVIC spokesman as pure speculation on April 18.