China Starts Operating J-15 Fighter From Liaoning Experimental Carrier

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J-15 leaps into the sky from China’s new carrier

The Chinese PLAN Navy surprised a lot of Western analysts by operating supersonic jets on the carrier that they took nearly forever to finish after getting it for a song from the Russians. This uses the Soviet technique of using a ski-jump nose instead of the expensive catapault system favored by Americans since the Cold War, or jump jets which worked poorly for the Russians and only limited use by the British over the Falklands and the US Marines. Landing and taking off a supersonic jet is not easy, especially if you haven’t been doing it since the 1920s like the United States, which first fielded the Lexington class in 1927, and supersonic jets since the 1950s.

China is currently way, way behind the US as a naval power, but they are catching up. Right now they only have a training carrier, but they have the money to perfect the technology and build lots of them, even if  they are not super carriers they could carry planes to beat up just about anybody else, and if the US starts cutting down on our currently ridiculous number of a dozen super carriers when nobody else has even ONE, they could be at parity in a few dozen years. They have just perfected their answer to our Aegis destroyers which is pretty much what the Navy now uses as cruisers these days as the main surface combatant, and could build a pile of  those. Their stealth fighter(s) (now they have another one that looks like a shrunken F-22) aren’t really a factor and nobody has seen this scary anti-carrier missile that China has been bragging about that  leapfrogs anything the Russians or Americans have demonstrated as a workable weapon.

Hopefully our economies will be too intertwined for the Chinese to seriously consider obliterating or at least engaging in a major conflict or empire like the Japanese used to do. China is clearly on its way to being the first Pacific Navy since the Imperial Japanese Navy (which was a damned good navy before Uncle Sam sent it to the bottom of the sea after some nasty initial setbacks) to be able to seriously challenge the US.

Here is what LIGNET has to say:

China has entered a critical phase in its rapid military expansion — and it is flexing its muscle for the world to see.

China just announced that it has succeeded in landing a J-15 fighter on an aircraft carrier, a milestone most experts didn’t expect the Chinese military to achieve for several years.

China’s New
Aircraft Carrier At Sea

China’s J-15 Jet Fighter
Approaches Carrier

Gordon G. Chang, an expert on Asian geopolitics, tells LIGNET, the global intelligence and forecasting service, that China is becoming desperate as a result of its deteriorating economy and the desire to claim more land.

Chang also believes the “military is starting to break free of civilian control.” He calls this “a very, very troublesome event.”

Is this just the beginning of China’s aggressive attempt to position itself as a global military superpower?


Here is the description for the youtube video of the event:


China has successfully conducted flight landing on its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. The taking off and landing of the homegrown J-15 has sparked interest throughout the nation.

The successful takeoff marked the carrier debut of the J-15. The J-15 is able to carry multi-type anti-ship, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, as well as precision-guided bombs. After its delivery to the PLA Navy on September 25th, the aircraft carrier underwent a series of sailing and technical tests.

Since the carrier entered service, the crew has completed more than 100 training and test programs.

The PLA Navy says the carrier platform and the J-15 have been tested, meeting all requirements. It said that the jets’ taking off and landing are part of these tests, and more systems will be tested in the near future.

And (People’s Daily Online)

The successful takeoff and landing of the J-15 is of great significance to China’s naval buildup.  [boy you can say that again, since they don’t have anything larger than destroyers which are poor copies of our stealthy Burke Class Aegis destroyers] Zhang considers it to be a clear sign of an increase in the fighting capacity of the aircraft carrier. [even if it takes 10 years to get an operational ship working based on playing with this one, that could cause problems] Well-operating carrier-based aircraft is an important symbol of the fighting capacity of an aircraft carrier,[let’s hope it’s just symbolic like their previous ballistic missile subs which were never effective as usable weapons systems] and the commissioning of the Liaoning will greatly increase the Chinese navy’s comprehensive fighting capacity, he said. [this combined with the latest destroyers and subs could well challenge the US Navy if they built several carriers, and even one or two could overwhelm any other Pacific Navy or challenge Russia]

Zhang said that the J-15 is China’s first generation of independently developed carrier-based aircraft.[actually it’s a copy of the SU-33] According to U.S. and European standards, it is a third-generation fighter with strong sea-air combat capability and supersonic speeds. [Wikipedia says 3rd generation is like the F-4 Phantom which flew in 1958, but the SU-33 is more like the 4th generation F-14 Tomcat of Top Gun fame which first flew in 1970, so China is only 40 years behind in carrier aircraft] It can carry multiple types of long-range anti-ship and air-to-air missiles.

The J-15 has a range of about 3,000 kilometers without refueling, and thus has strong long-range combat capability.[well, the main thing is that it can haul as much stuff as far as the old Phantom which really revolutionized naval aviation, and the plane with canards and blended body/wing can probably maneuver like the old Tomcat as well and possibly outperform the awkward F-18 super bug which was never popular as a replacement for the big swing-wing bird]

The Liaoning has been mainly used for scientific tests and military training. After the successful takeoff and landing of the carrier-based aircraft, the navy will test other components of the carrier battle group. [which means operating with those fancy new Aegis-copy destroyers, though if they are as good as China’s crappy domestic cars which also look like their western counterparts, the beauty and capability may only be skin deep] Scientific tests and military training on the aircraft carrier are mutually complementary and carried out synchronously.

[Now this is the hilarious part:] Zhang stressed that with an aircraft carrier, China will make greater contributions to world peace. The Liaoning will undertake humanitarian relief and other tasks in the future because carrier-based aircraft, especially helicopters, can transport relief supplies and medical staff when roads or ports are severely damaged. China’s aircraft carrier will be exceptionally useful in maintaining world peace and stability as well as fulfilling international humanitarian obligations. [When they build amphibious assault ships, then we can get really really worried]



Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the J-15 which is actually about the same size and performance of the Navy’s old F-14 Tomcat, which in turn was essentially the massive F-4 Phantom tuned for dogfighting and hauling the big Phoenix missle which ended up not shooting down anything for all the brouhaha.  It is said to be a rough copy of the Russian Su-33, and the Russians aren’t very pleased about it, though the Russians have a history of copying the American Boeing B-29, and the Rolls Royce engine that powered the Mig-15 from the British. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet was the Navy’s original “low cost” fighter scaled up into a large fighter. It’s not as advanced as the F-35 Lightning that the Navy is now testing in catapault launched and jump-jet versions that can operate from smaller assault carriers.


Shenyang J-15

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Role Carrier-based Multirole fighter
National origin People’s Republic of China
Manufacturer Shenyang Aircraft Corporation
First flight August 31, 2009[1]
Introduction 2016 anticipated[2]
Status Flight testing
Primary user People’s Liberation Army Naval Air Force
Number built 16
Developed from Shenyang J-11B

The Shenyang J-15 (Chinese: 歼-15), also known as Flying Shark (Chinese:飞鲨), is a carrier-based fighter aircraft in development by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation and the 601 Institute for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy‘s aircraft carriers. Rumors initially claimed the aircraft was to be a semi-stealth variant, yet later reports indicate the aircraft is based on the Russian-designed Sukhoi Su-33 and is fitted with domestically producedradars and weapons. An unfinished Su-33 prototype, the T-10K-3,[3] was acquired from Ukraine sometime in 2001 and is said to have been studied extensively, with development on the J-15 beginning immediately afterward.[1][3][4][5] While the J-15 appears to be structurally based on the Su-33, the indigenous fighter features Chinese technologies as well as avionics from the J-11B program.[2]

Design and development

Russian military experts have downplayed any significant competition from the J-15 in the global arms market, with Col. Igor Korotchenko of the Defense Ministry stating in early June 2010, “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.”[1] China has actively sought to purchase Su-33s from Russia on numerous occasions—an unsuccessful offer was made as late as March 2009[6]—but negotiations collapsed in 2006 after it was discovered that China had developed a modified version[7][8][9] of the Sukhoi Su-27SK designated the Shenyang J-11B,[10][11][12] in violation of intellectual property agreements.[1]

The first J-15 prototype is believed to have performed its maiden flight on August 31, 2009, powered by Russian-supplied AL-31 turbofan engines.[2] Video and still images of the flight were released in July 2010, showing the same basic airframe design as the Su-33.[13] In July 2011, it was reported FWS-10H turbofan engine was chosen for J-15 fighter, which has takeoff thrust increased to 12,800 kg, comparing FWS-10 turbofan’s 12,500 kg. Other improvements were also made to make it better suited to carrier-based fighter’s requirement.[14] On May 6, 2010, the aircraft conducted its first takeoff from a simulated ski-jump.[2]

The J-15 is reported to use different avionics and systems than the Su-33, and uses Chinese-developed technologies, and features various upgrades such as AESA radarradar absorbent material, MAWS, IRST, composite, and new electronics.[15] An article in theChina Signpost believes the J-15 “likely exceeds or matches the aerodynamic capabilities of virtually all fighter aircraft currently operated by regional militaries, with the exception of the U.S. F-22 Raptor”[16], alleging that the J-15 likely possesses a 10% superior thrust to weight ratio and a 25% lower wing loading than the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet[16][better source needed] However, one of the authors of that same article described the J-15 in another as no game changer.[17] However, Hu Siyuan of the National Defense University PLA China has said that “the current weak point of the J-15 is its Russia-made Al-31 engines which are less powerful than that of the American F-35 fighter”.[18]

A twin seat variant made its maiden flight on November 4, 2012. The general designer of J-15 is Mr. Sun Cong (孙聪).

Operational history

On 25 November 2012, Chinese media announced that two J-15s had made successful arrested landings on the aircraft carrierLiaoning.[19][20][21] The first pilot to land on the Liaoning was named as Dai Mingmeng (戴明盟).[22] PLA Daily newspaper indicated first five naval pilots including Dai conducted J-15 fighter landing and taking off. Test and training program officials confirmed the carrier-borne aircraft and special equipment for the landing flight had gone through strict tests, and fighter jets can be deployed on the carrier.[23]


General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 22.28 m (73.083 ft)
  • Wingspan: 15.00 m (50.42 ft)
  • Height: 5.92 m (19.50 ft)
  • Wing area: 62.04 m2 (667.80 ft2)
  • Empty weight: 17500 kg (40000 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 27000 kg (71000 lb)



Now about those destroyers

these are the most worrisome aspect of their buildup that isn’t getting much press, compared to an anti-carrier missile that nobody has seen, missile armed catamarans with short range, and a carrier that is essentially experimental, and ballistic missile subs that aren’t any good in conventional conflicts:


The Chinese Navy is “acquiring the hardware it needs to prosecute a major regional naval showdown,” according to Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, two leading U.S. analysts of Chinese military developments.

The latest reports in the Chinese media say that the sixth destroyer in the Type 052C Luyang II-class has been launched and that the shipyard that builds them in Shanghai is laying down an average of two hulls per year….

The Global Times newspaper, controlled by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, reported …. mass production of the destroyer is “the highlight in the second wave of massive (naval) shipbuilding after 2000,” and that the six Type 052Cs were launched at very short intervals since the end of 2010, with at least one of them already commissioned this year.

“As the most sophisticated combat ships, Aegis destroyers are commonly referred to as air-defense destroyers equipped with phased array radars and modern ship-to-air missiles, which enable the ships to provide regional air defence shields for the entire fleet,” the newspaper reported.

The Type 052D is described by Japanese and U.S. specialists as a stealthy, 6,000-ton destroyer with 64 vertical launch canisters embedded in the hull to enable quick firing of anti-air, anti-ship, or land-attack missiles.

This makes the new Chinese warship somewhat smaller in size and firepower than the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers. But U.S. Naval War College professors Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes, who wrote a book on the growth of China’s navy, “Red Star over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy,” say that the latest Chinese destroyer still “packs a punch for localized conflicts in Asian waters.”


About the Author

MIT electrical engineering computer science graduate has written conservative columns on politics, race / culture, science and education since the 70s in MIT The Tech and various publications in including New Republic and National Review.