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New Images of China’s J-15 Carrier-Based Fighter

by John Reed on April 25, 2011

Here you have it, close up pictures of what’s apparently China’s J-15 carrier-borne fighter sporting PLAN colors emerged over the weekend, emerged in China’s state-owned Global Post newspaper over the weekend. It’s essentially a Chinese version of Russia’s Su-33 naval fighter that is designed to fly off the same type of carrier China will soon field.

It’s been reported for a while that China is working on building its own carrier-based fighter but some thought that the plane wouldn’t be ready to fly off a ship in time to participate in the sea trials of the ex-Soviet carrier Varyag, now known as the Shi Lang, later this year. Instead, they expected the PLAN to fly Russian-made Su-33s, a derivative of Sukhoi’s Su-27 design. We’ll see if this changes that. Keep in mind that we don’t know how far along the J-15 is in flight testing and whether it will be ready to operate off a carrier before the end of this year. Although, it’s reported that the jet first flew in 2009. That’s plenty of time to get a relatively proven design ready for carrier ops.

The shot above shows the J-15’s twin-wheeled nose landing gear meant for carrier ops. The plane also has a larger wing area than land-based versions of the Su-27 and is reported to be equipped with Chinese avionics, sensors and weapons.

Meanwhile, the Global Post says Chinese aviation officials are denying that the PLAN or the PLAAF are flight testing a short/vertical take-off and landing fighter in the hinterlands of Inner Mongolia. This came after weeks of chatter about such a jet entering flight testing emerged. The Chinese jump jet was rumored to be based on the Su-33 as well, something that’s a bit hard to believe given the size of the Su-33. Yes, it can already take off without a catapult from an aircraft carrier equipped with a ski jump, but serious VTOL capability for that design seems like a stretch.

Thanks to China Defense Blog for posting the article and pics.

In this shot, you can see what may be the vertical stabilizer of a second J-15 in the background.

Here’s another good shot.

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Morty April 25, 2011 at 11:53 am

Looks like the Russia SU-27

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oppervlakkig April 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Dude.

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William C. April 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Undoubtedly based off the J-11, which is a Su-27 in most regards.

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Ashley R November 30, 2011 at 8:44 am

Is this comparable to the f-22 or the f-18?

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Bill May 3, 2012 at 9:59 pm

It is based off J-11B, which features completely different set of indigenous technologies inside a Flanker airframe design; its role and upgrades are analogous to that of the SU-35, such as lightened airframe, radar absorbent material, AESA radar, MAWS, IRST, upgraded engine, etc, which puts it at a different category than the usual Flanker.

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Lance April 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I see how they got these fighter so fast already the Russian Navy is replaceing all there Su-33s with MiG-29Ks so the left over technology and aircraft cand be sold to the Chinese anyway.

The Su-33 has a inferior radar and weapons load than the land based Su-27s anyway and Since China only has 1 carrier that's not even there design I wouldn't worry right now anyway.

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Benjamin April 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm

It said they are using Chinese electronics in the aircraft. The question is if they are using Chinese engines. I would hate to be that pilot if they are

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FtD April 27, 2011 at 2:31 am

if you look at the 3rd photo, noticing the right engine nozzle tilted down ie thrust vectoring. If Chinese engineers can 'copy' that level of tech then the west should be seriously worried…. lol

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Cable April 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm

No, we don't have to worry right now. But in 5 to 10 years we surely should start thinking about it. So, it wouldn't hurt to be at least attentive for now.

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Cable April 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm

And the russians refused to sell any Su-33 to the chinese, out of the legitimate fear of reverse engineering. I doubt that the russians might change their mind now, or that the chinese are interested anymore.

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Praetorian April 26, 2011 at 8:48 pm

The Chinese wanted Russia to sell them " two " Su-33's, which Russia refused
and offered to sell them 24. China received a Su-33 from Ukraine which surely
upset Russia.

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usa is # 1 April 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm

china copys all there stuff from the usa and russia they need to grow a sack and bild something thats there disine all stolen tech but old technoligy. they probaly cant make an engian because they havent found the blueprints or anything of an engine yet they are just thefs

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Hale April 25, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Please pay attention to your spelling, you're giving our country a bad name. (at least change you're name to 'Canada is #1', that way you'te only embarrasing the Canadians)

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Hale April 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Oh boy, look at my hypocracy. I go on blathering about someone else's spelling only to do so myself. For Shame.

Back on topic. Pretty interesting. Pretty soon there are going to be more copied/modified Chinese carriers and carrier-based fighters than the actual Russian counterparts.

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SpacedOut May 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Quite an interesting observation considering that USA conquered space using German technology.
Where would the space program be if Von Braun and other Germans hadn't defected to the USA?…

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TOO December 2, 2011 at 10:27 am

At least they can copy WELL, you can't even spell your words, which is maybe you mother tongue!

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Bill May 3, 2012 at 10:07 pm

How exactly is a jet a copy of another when it uses a completely different set of technologies?

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Jacob April 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Copying really isn't a bad strategy when someone else has something better than what you have.

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Chris April 25, 2011 at 9:14 pm

It is when you don't understand the fundamentals behind the design to begin with. Russian sub sailors knew/know this well. Why don't people understand there is a whole lot more to a widget than it's shape?

Eventually you must be able to innovate on your own. While the Chinese aren't there yet, they are getting close and when they do get there, the pace of advancement will slow considerably (happens where there is no one left to steal from).

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Cable April 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Absolutely. One can hardly blame the chinese for doing so. Hell, if my country had a superior competitor, I for sure would hope my government to do anything to catch up.

Not lest of all, I believe the western world needs some real competition right now, the society is drowning in decadence. Roman empire, anybody?

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blight April 25, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Copying was a pretty big part of the Meiji Restoration. The world still feels the consequences of it; even after mass firebombing and nuking Japan.

Suffice to say if piles of incendiaries and two nukes can't stop the progress that starts from reverse-engineering and learning abroad, then when it comes to China it really is only a matter of time.

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swissfreek April 25, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Look at those flaps! Did they get them off a C-17? Holy cow! It might be an optical illusion but in that last pic it looks like they've got damn-near 80 degrees of flaps hanging off the trailing edge, and multiple different layers.

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Cable April 25, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Hm, yeah, the seem pretty big. But wiki whispered to me that "at least" the wing area of the Su-33 should be the same as the Su-27's, so no naval adaptations on the wings (aside of the canards, of course). But who knows if the chinese maybe tried to improve the design.

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jacob April 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm

not stealth and probly old tech that they stole from america in the 70s did it even fly and how come we have no actual foodage of a new chinese plane flying

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Hale April 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm

China stole Russian tech from the US? Why not cut out the middleman?

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Bill May 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Stealth technology was thought up by a Russian and attempted by a German.

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Cable April 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

In fact, there are videos of the J-15's maiden flight dating from July 2010 on youtube. Nothing breath-taking though.

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bmoke April 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm

i wonder if they tried to builed a engine or buy another one of russia

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Bryce March 5, 2012 at 3:56 am

They have designed and built a turbofan called WS-10, it is a pretty good engine with a performance close to the russia al-31f, but this engine seems to have some reliability problem and trouble in mass production.

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Bill May 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Uses WS-10H

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oomoh April 25, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I aamm treed to spell for mine fist thyme avar. Where is Oblat whine I need to fist hime

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Cable April 25, 2011 at 9:38 pm

It's never big enough, haw, haw!

But seriously, the Su-33 was always the only plane on the russian Admiral Kusnezov-Class carriers (except for a period of time, where they used to have another 5 Su-25 trainers on board), between 12 and 24 of them, supported by 16 to 24 Ka-27 Copters.
The best solution regarding the as you say pretty big main (and sole) aircraft and the not sooo big carrier. Well, the purpose may vary now, but such a carrier is hardly comparable to the US super carriers, and maybe even doesn't have to be. Because its concept is quite similar to the european carriers.
Anyhow, I could imagine the chinese to assign a similar equally mixed wing to their carrier.

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IFB April 26, 2011 at 12:05 am

IIRC, the soviets had huge supersonic cruise missiles on their carriers which took a lot of space. With those gone the chinese may be able to fit more birds.

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Chimp December 2, 2011 at 3:18 am

And it seems the rotary air wing is going to be smaller, too. My guess is a bigger fighter wing than the Russians used.

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Cable April 25, 2011 at 10:55 pm

And, speaking of the Tomcat: The F-14's were absolutely indespensable and worth its disadvantages. The US Navy unfortunately won't have such a superb air superiority fighter for the next three decades.

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adam osborne April 26, 2011 at 1:36 am

a carrier to the chinese is what a battleship was to england in the 1930's just a fly the flag exercise the chinese and any other nation without the abilty to have a navy like the u.s will develop large anti-ship missles and use the carrier to show 3rd world nations they have "power".
A dozen or more anti-ship missles heading for a super carrier and even if only a few hit that carrier is out of the game

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Praetorian April 26, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I could be wrong but America was used to having big aircraft on the carrier. The
A-5 Vigilante was bigger than the Tomcat. Not to mention, the A-5 was the best looking aircraft for her time. Also, since the Su-33 has to be launched with a ski jump and not a catapult it will have to carry less fuel to get in the air.

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fulibo April 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

Regardless copy or not, China is going to be a big country that doesn't allow any west country billy. Given this point, the Chinese govt doing a good job

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zzhu3 April 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm

you spoke out the key point. Take a look around the mideast countries and think it over what could happen to weak countries. Do not just let western countries lead the world, we need some kind of balance in the world, just like what China is doing.

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123 August 14, 2013 at 4:36 am

Good job of copying? Big country should have a great heart and a greater mind; not that of a petty thief.

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Alan May 7, 2011 at 10:48 am

Interesting though, the USA are clearly worried about China overtaking them in the global superpower stakes. The weird part is that China are still manufacturing everything that the west buys. They haven't really started on automobiles yet but more companies are looking at China for a manufacturing base and components have been made in China for a long while. Military spending in China is on the up and the USA surely can't keep it's spending on military at it's current level.

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Typhoon May 8, 2011 at 6:34 am

@Alan The Chinese had already exported 250,000 Chinese made cars in 2010 to several countries. However, so far they have not been so successful as compared to their Korean counterparts.

You can view some of their home made cars via You Tube in the recent Shanghai 2011 Auto show.

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Dave May 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Come on they are just now getting on board .Please you think the US is just sitting still.Go ahead and underestimate, we still are way out in front.We are decades ahead in every way, other than our three year olds knowing algebra.While they were educating their three year olds we were building an improving our weapons.They lack in quality ,training ,we are way ahead in teh game of war how many wars have they fought. Heck the Japanese used to kick their tails all the time.

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Warlord September 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Times Change alot of things .Like it or not you have a new player in town.

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al June 9, 2011 at 6:37 am

i wouldn’t want to fly a chinese jet,considering the quality of the goods they sell in america.complete crap,plus you can blindfold those chinese with dental floss,they
will fly about as good as they drive.

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Yoyo June 11, 2011 at 12:05 am

Remember those days, the Yanks and the Japs productions' were once called craps too. Think before you speak. Idiots!

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Yoyo June 11, 2011 at 1:07 am

Come on! Look at the Su-27 and Su-33? Do they look very much difference?

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Yoyo June 18, 2011 at 5:57 am

To those Stupid Mother Fucker (Yankees and Indies black shit). Better kneel down and salute to the Chinese because what the US did, the Chinese can do better than you. Just relying to foreign scientists doesn't mean you are advance and smart; you idiot yanks. The foreigners' just pitying you yanks and willing to feed you., especially from the Jews. And to the Indian even worsen than fourth world countries (underdeveloped), could be consider as beggar nations. Should I say exactly the same as the Africa nations. Apparently, China successes could causes those limps jealousy and frustration. Just admit it! No worries, I won't look you down or discriminate you, assholes.

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Warlord September 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Yoyo your name is stupid as your racial remarks ! What have africans done to you? Take your girl

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Mike Powell June 24, 2011 at 10:18 am

Yes, F-14 is 17 meters short then.

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Johnny Boy July 12, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Yeah yeah, ignorant lot. Every body copies! The great US and Russian arsenal were created by German scientists. The average russian is too pissed of their heads to know history (let alone spell it) while the average Amero cant talk and sing properly so they created "rap".

Stick to your vodka and hot dogs

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Bill May 3, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Ironically, the J-15's different set of technologies render it a completely new jet; the Su-35's similar appearance to the Su-27 doesn't render it a "copy" of the Su-27 now, does it?

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morriswise August 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm

The refurbished Chinese aircraft carrier might look like a pile of junk but it will soon be capable of launching 35 long range aircraft each carrying two nuclear armed missiles. Stationing it 500 miles off the Western coast of the US will make it a respected weapon. Its aircraft will deal a devastating blow to any nation that attacks this floating pile of junk.

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skf August 15, 2011 at 3:28 am

The Chinese people are intelligent given the right environment, they are to able to succeed what they set out to achieve. There is nothing wrong to copy in order to succeed. The American did not have the rocket technology of its own.It was the German g scientists from the Nazi who helped the American to develop the rocket technology after the 2nd world war.

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Imam Hussain December 2, 2011 at 2:09 am

well china might have done it by hook or crook but tey have done it what i feel is those who are indian s are showering words anti china that itself shows ho helpless they are chinese produce 1 st quality and 3 rate quality products so thats there tactic and there education is in there mother tongue like chinese cantonese or mandarin tats y they have exceled and no one dint stop india not to do reverse engineering secretly if india does its good or else always suffer helplessly

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nick December 14, 2011 at 6:51 pm

If it wasn't for the yank's you would all be speaking German or Japanese, and the US has a jet with a laser that can shoot down any thing at light speed so the US is not worried about china, any WW3 would be fought in the middle east as a pissing contest for the supper powers to show who is the best. Look at Iraq they had an invincible anti-air defense line and guess how long it took the US to have air superiority, 72 hrs

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abc December 30, 2011 at 7:42 am

What's wrong speaking German! Its good to learn that! American English is good or accurate but true English should sound like the real English accent!

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alberto April 7, 2014 at 6:21 pm

awesome machine, looks sharp like a Mig Fighter

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IFB April 26, 2011 at 12:20 am

gahh, sorry for replying. Just noticed you were that clueless troll roland.

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Joseph Tan November 12, 2011 at 5:15 am

Don't write and think from your buttock. Read the Wikipedia and see how many Chinese pioneered inventions that had still been using the world over even now!!!

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