Take a look at the J-15 fighter jet, the $61 million copy of a Soviet plane picked to wage war from China’s aircraft carriers

Chinese language J-15 fighter jets on the deck of the Liaoning plane provider throughout navy drills within the Yellow Sea, off China’s east coast.Contributor/AFP/STR/China OUT/Getty Pictures

  • China’s touts the J-15 as its first regionally made carrier-borne fighter jet.

  • The jet is an unlicensed copy of a Soviet-made Su-33 prototype, which China reverse-engineered.

  • Whereas the jet is certainly one of China’s greatest, specialists say it could possibly’t compete with the US F/A-18s or newer F-35s.

The Shenyang J-15 is China’s carrier-borne fighter jet. There are a number of dozen items of the jet at the moment in service.

J15 fighter jet preparing to land on China's sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, during a drill at sea.

J-15 fighter jet making ready to land on China’s first operational plane provider, the Liaoning, throughout a drill at sea.Contributor/AFP/Getty Pictures

The jet, nicknamed “Flying Shark,” first entered service with China’s Folks’s Liberation Naval Air Drive in 2014. It was manufactured by the Shenyang Plane Company, a subsidiary of the state-owned protection conglomerate Aviation Trade Company of China.

In keeping with a Could 2021 report by The Diplomat, some 50 items of the jet are at the moment in operation. The J-15 is China’s first carrier-borne fighter jet, which means that it was primarily designed for China’s rising fleet of plane carriers.

In December 2021, China revealed an upgraded model of the jet, that includes updates to its missile pylons, radar, wings, and infrared search and observe system. In keeping with the state-affiliated media outlet International Instances, the upgraded model of the J-15 could possibly be able to carrying a short-range fight missile.

These enhancements led a Chinese language navy skilled to recommend the fourth-gen J-15 could possibly be thought-about a “fourth-generation-plus” fighter jet in discussions with China’s International Instances.

Navy 4.5-generation jets function lively electronically scanned array radar, excessive capability information hyperlinks, and the flexibility to deploy superior armaments, in line with the science and expertise publication Phys.org, citing definitions by the 2020 US Protection Authorization Act. It is unclear if the J-15 meets these circumstances.

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The J-15 is modeled after the Soviet-made Su-33 jet, per The Nationwide Curiosity.

J15 fighter jet landing on China's sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, during a drill at sea.

J15 fighter jet touchdown on China’s sole operational plane provider, the Liaoning, throughout a drill at sea.Contributor/AFP/China OUT/Getty Pictures

China bought an unfinished prototype of the Su-33 and constructed the J-15 primarily based on the Soviet jet’s airframe, The Nationwide Curiosity reported. The Su-33 was first produced in 1987, per United Plane Company.

A number of Russian weapon methods, together with the J-15, have been copied with out permission, in line with a 2017 report by the Stockholm Worldwide Peace Analysis Institute.

Because the J-15 is actually an unlicensed copy of the Su-33, the jets have principally an identical dimensions. The J-15 measures 21.9 meters in size, 14.7 meters in top, and has a wingspan of 14.7 meters, in line with Navy At this time.

One level of distinction between the J-15 and Su-33 is the engines. Whereas the J-15 jet operates with the Chinese language-made WS-10, the Su-33 makes use of the Saturn AL-31.

The indigenous WS-10 engine has been described as “underdeveloped” in comparison with the Russian engines China has historically relied on Russia for, per The Nationwide Curiosity. A number of different Chinese language jets additionally use the WS-10, together with the J-20 and J-16 jets.


In September, Chinese language state media launched a video that navy specialists mentioned appeared to indicate a J-15 warning off a US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, in line with South China Morning Submit.

J-15 fighter jets are seen on the flight deck of China's sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, as it arrives in Hong Kong waters.

J-15 fighter jets are seen on the flight deck of China’s sole plane provider, the Liaoning, because it arrives in Hong Kong waters.Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Pictures

Yue Gang, a former Chinese language colonel, mentioned the options of the warship within the video matched the traits of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, citing its massive, four-sided phased array radar antenna, double funnel, and anti-submarine torpedoes, SCMP reported.

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Chinese language navy skilled Tune Zhongping informed the International Instances that he additionally recognized the warship within the video as a US destroyer. Different observers, nonetheless, famous that Japan and South Korea have ships primarily based on the Arleigh Burke class design.

The US and Chinese language militaries routinely discover themselves in shut proximity within the Indo-Pacific area, together with some tense interactions.

China is attempting to construct a stronger navy that may maintain its personal in opposition to the USA’ armed forces. In keeping with a December 2021 report by the Harvard Kennedy Faculty, China has strived to modernize its navy since Xi Jinping’s reforms in 2015 so as to “shift the steadiness of energy” within the rising navy rivalry between China and the US.

Whereas the J-15 has been in comparison with a number of US jets just like the F-35, it has been mentioned to be no match for its US counterparts.

Chinese J-15 fighter jet preparing to take off from the deck of the Liaoning aircraft carrier during military drills in the Bohai Sea, off China's northeast coast.

Chinese language J-15 fighter jet making ready to take off from the deck of the Liaoning plane provider throughout navy drills within the Bohai Sea, off China’s northeast coast.Contributor/AFP/STR/China OUT/Getty Pictures

In keeping with The Nationwide Curiosity’s Kris Osborn, who served as an skilled on the Pentagon, the J-15 cannot compete with the F-35C and F-35B jets even with upgrades, primarily as a result of the J-15 is simply a fourth-generation jet whereas the F-35 is a fifth-generation plane.

Osborn mentioned that even an upgraded J-15 could have difficulties with regard to air supremacy in opposition to the F-35s, the C and B variants of which serve aboard US carriers and amphibious assault ships.

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Not like these fifth-generation plane, the J-15 lacks superior radar evading capabilities, per The Diplomat. The F-35’s VLO stealth permits it to “evade enemy detection and enter contested airspace,” per Lockheed Martin.

The J-15 “would seemingly get slaughtered” if it went face to face with even fourth-generation plane just like the F/A-18, specialists beforehand informed Insider, noting weaknesses in Chinese language provider designs.

China Liaoning aircraft carrier J-15 fighter jet

Members of the general public take images with J-15 fighter jets aboard the Chinese language plane provider Liaoning on July 8, 2017.Felix Wong/South China Morning Submit by way of Getty Pictures

Whereas the J-15 has underpowered engines, it could possibly carry extra weapons and gasoline, so it is able to flying increased and quicker than the F/A-18, Insider reported.

However China’s plane carriers restrict some great benefits of the J-15. The Liaoning and Shandong, which carry enhances of J-15 jets, use ski-jump assisted quick take-off launch methods over catapults.

In keeping with senior protection researcher Timothy Heath, a ski-slope configuration makes it tough for the J-15 to take off with a full payload. As compared, the F/A-18 can launch with a full load of gasoline and weaponry as a result of US carriers use catapult-assisted take-off.

“In case you’re speaking concerning the J-15 going up in opposition to the F/A-18 at sea, then the F/A-18 goes to destroy the J-15,” Heath informed Insider two years in the past.

China has since launched a brand new plane provider with catapults that might enable the J-15 to higher compete with the F/A-18.

The unit value of the J-15 is at the very least $61 million, SCMP reported, citing Chinese language navy commentator Zhou Chenming.

China's sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, during a drill at sea.

China’s sole operational plane provider, the Liaoning, throughout a drill at sea.Contributor/AFP/China OUT/Getty Pictures

Whereas a lot pricier than different regionally made counterparts just like the JL-9, which Zhou, a Beijing-based navy skilled, estimates prices about $10 million, the J-15 is way from being China’s most costly fighter jet. The fifth-generation J-20, which entered service in March 2017, prices between $100 million to $120 million per unit, in line with SCMP.

“The J-15 is pricey as a result of it’s an assault fighter jet and must be fitted with refined gadgets and weapons,”  Zhou informed SCMP in a 2020 report.

There are at the very least 5 variations of the J-15, in line with the Workplace of Naval Intelligence.

J-15 jet fighter is displayed at the military parade for the Commemorations of the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War is held at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

J-15 jet fighter is displayed on the navy parade for the Commemorations of the seventieth Anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese language Folks’s Conflict of Resistance In opposition to Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist Conflict is held at Tiananmen Sq. in Beijing.Contributor/South China Morning Submit/Getty Pictures

The preliminary mannequin of the J-15 is a single-seat variant of the jet, per The Nationwide Curiosity. There’s additionally a twin-seat variant, the J-15S.

One other variant of the jet is the J-15T, which is coated with an anti-corrosion materials.

The J-15B, the jet’s newest variant, has an improved avionics suite that enhances air superiority and strike functionality, per The Diplomat.

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