Fighters II

Together with J-20 (4th generation), J-10C, J-16 and Su-35 (3.5th generation) will replace the remaining J-7/8 series as well as the original Su-27 fighters and form the backbone of Chinese fighter force in a new high-low combination during the first half of the 21st century.

J-10/10A Vigorous Dragon/Firebird

A PLAN J-10AH was landing while carrying training rounds of PL-10 IIR guided AAM and a DC01A targeting pod. J-10 (K/JJ10?) is a multi-functional single-engine fighter being developed by Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) and 611 Institute. It has been selected by PLAAF as the next generation fighter to replace the obsolete J-7 fighter and Q-5 attack aircraft. The aircraft appears to have an Su-27 style nose and rectangular air intake, an AL-31F type engine, twin nose wheels, and a distinct low-visibility camouflage color scheme. The aircraft also has a large vertical fin plus twin F-16 style ventral stabilizers believed to provide greater stability at high AoA. Its fuselage looks considerably longer compared to Israeli Lavi. Unlike J-7E with double-delta wings, it appears to have a pair of inverted gull wings (i.e. the inner upper portion extends slightly downward, while the outer portion extends flat). The J-10 project was conceived in the 1984 based on the experience (tailless delta wing and canard foreplanes) with J-9 which was cancelled in 1980 in favor of the less risky J-7C/MIG-21MF project. An early model of J-10 revealed a Mirage 2000 style intake with a center shock cone for better high speed performance and a Lavi style tail section, suggesting a possible connection with the cancelled Israeli fighter (however this was firmly denied by both parties). The change indicates that J-10 has gone through at least one major redesign in its 18-year development period from the initial conventional layout as an air-superiority fighter to the latest semi-stealthy design as a multi-role fighter. This change may reflect a shift of its potential adversaries from former Soviet Mig-29/Su-27 to current American F-15/16/18 after end of the Cold War. The new design is certainly fitted with advanced avionics including a "glass cockpit" (1 wide-angle HUD + 2 monochrome MFD + 1 color MFD), HMS, HOTAS, GPS/INS, air data computer, ARW9101A RWR, Type 634 digital quadruplex FBW, digital fuel management system, mission management system, ARINC429 databus, and a detachable IFR probe. A new PD fire-control radar (Type 1473, search >120km, track 4-6, engage 2 simultaneously) is also fitted, which was based on Israeli EL/M 2035 radar for its cancelled Lavi fighter. A variety of newly developed air-to-air (e.g. PL-8 short-range IR guided AAM and PL-12 medium-range active radar guided AAM) and air-to-surface weapons can be carried under 11 hardpoints including LS-500J LGBs and K/JDC01A FLIR/laser designation pod. A new twin-rail missile launch pylon was developed to increase the total number of PL-12 MRAAMs it can carry from 2 to 4. The aircraft has been powered by a 127kN thrust AL-31FN turbofan engine, a modified AL-31F which powers Su-27/J-11, and Russia reportedly had denied China the license to produce the engine locally. As the result, the indigenous WS-10 engine has been used on the J-11 series only and not on the J-10 series. Some western military analysts believed that J-10 could pose a serious challenge to F/A-18C in terms of maneuverability. Some specifications of J-10 are (estimated): length 17.1m, height 5.4m, wingspan 9.8m, normal TO weight 12,400kg, max TO weight 18,600kg, internal fuel 4,500kg, max external load 6,600kg, g load +9/-3, max speed Mach 2.0 (high altitude)/Mach 1.2 (1,450km/h @ sea level), TO distance 400m, combat radius 1,100km, static ceiling 18,000m, ferry range 3,200km. The development of J-10 has not been smooth. A full-scale mock-up was built in 1991. The first prototype was set to fly in 1996, powered by a newly developed WS-10A turbofan based on the CFM56 engine core technology. However the development of this indigenous engine suffered serious difficulties and thus the rear fuselage and engine intake were forced to be redesigned in order to accommodate an alternative AL-31FN engine imported from Russia. After a 15-month delay, the first prototype (01/1001) was rolled out in June 1997. It made its maiden flight on March 23, 1998, two years behind the schedule. 6 prototypes (serial numbers 1002-1009) were built undergoing various static and flight tests at CAC in Chengdu and at the CFTE in Yanliang. Subsequently 3 more prototypes were built (1013-1016) as the project was moving into the pre-production phase while PLAAF remained fully committed. The flight test of J-10 was completed by the end of 2003 and the serial production started earlier that year. Approximately two are being produced each month, depending on the supply of AL-31FN engine from Russia. A total of 300 were planned. The first J-10 in production standard flew on June 28, 2002. The initial batches of 50 (54 AL-31FNs were imported between 2002 and 2004) have been produced by CAC, wearing a new gray/light blue paint scheme. Currently the production continues at a rate of 2-4 per month. The first 9 (?) were delivered to the PLAAF Flight Test & Training Base for evaluation starting from February 2003. After some delay due the problems of fire-control system, J-10 was finally certified by the end of 2003. The first J-10 regiment was established in 2004 in the PLAAF 44th Division stationed in Yunnan Province facing India. Around 100 may have been produced by 2006 (01-03 batch). J-10 was officially declassified on December 29, 2006. Some improvements have been made during the production, including a WL-9 radio compass antenna dish behind the canopy. A tandem-seat trainer version (J-10S) has been developed too (see below). Further improved variants including J-10A (improved glass cockpit and fire control radar/1473G? able to fire 4 PL-12 AAMs) and J-10B/C (see below) have been developed. The August 1 Aerobatic Demonstration Team also flies J-10AY (05 batch) to replace the old J-7GB. PLAN also received around 16 J-10AHs (05 batch, S/N 83x4x) which have been deployed at the eastern coast facing Japan. However this type of aircraft lacks the capability of carrying YJ-83K AShMs. The last batch of J-10As (07 batch) were produced for both the existing as well as new J-10 units by early 2014. The production was switched to J-10B by the end of 2014. Most J-10s have been upgraded to the J-10A standard with a new dorsal UHF/VHF antenna as well as VLOC antennas on top of the vertical fin. Recent images (September 2018) indicated that some J-10As and J-10AHs were upgraded to carry the newest PL-10 IIR homing AAM. Recent image (January 2020) indicated that some J-10As and J-10AHs have been upgraded with new IFF antennas (on top of the vertical fin and underneath the rear fuselage) similar to the ones onboard J-10C. J-10A was officially promoted on the international market in February 2016 at the Singapore Airshow as FC-20. However as a third generation fighter powered by a foreign engine, the prospect of FC-20 may not be as bright as AVIC has hoped. A recent satellite image (June 2019) indicated several J-10s were deployed to the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The latest image (April 2021) indicated that some J-10As have been transferred to the PLAAF flight academy (S/N 2x2x).
- Last Updated 1/17/22

J-10S Vigorous Dragon/Firebird

A PLAAF J-10S (K/JJ10S) advanced trainer was taking off (S: tandem). This version features a stretched forward fuselage and a bubble canopy which can be opened as a single piece. An excellent 360° outside view in the rear cockpit is clearly shown in the photo. Its dorsal spine appears to have been enlarged to accommodate electronics displaced by the rear cockpit. In addition to being a trainer for J-10 pilots, J-10S was speculated to be converted into an attack aircraft or EW/Wild Weasel anti-radiation aircraft, but this has not materialized. First Flight of 01 prototype took place on December 26, 2003. Two prototypes (01/1021 & 03/1023) were built flying various tests. J-10S passed the state certification in late 2005 and has entered service with PLAAF. In addition, the August 1 Aerobatic Demonstration Team has been flying J-10SY since mid-2010. Since late 2010 a total of 8 J-10SHs have been in service with PLAN (S/N 83x4x) along with J-10AHs. Some J-10Ses have been upgraded with a new dorsal UHF/VHF antenna as well as VLOC antennas on top of the vertical fin. Currently J-10S is also responsible for training J-10B/C pilots. A recent image (April 2021) indicated that some J-10Ses have been transferred to the PLAAF flight academy (S/N 2x2x). A recent image (June 2021) indicated that some J-10Ses have been upgraded with new IFF antennas (on top of the vertical fin and underneath the rear fuselage) similar to the ones onboard J-10C. The latest image (November 2021) suggested that new J-10Ses were being produced to support the J-10C fleet.
- Last Updated 11/25/21

J-10B Vigorous Dragon/Firebird

A PLAAF J-10B (K/JJ10B?) multirole fighter was on static display carrying two YJ-91 ARMs. This much improved variant made its maiden flight on December 23, 2008, powered by a Russian AL-31FN engine (1031 prototype). The improvements include a DSI/"Bump" inlet which not only cuts weight but also reduces RCS, after a similar design was first tested onboard FC-1/JF-17. The aircraft also features a new indigenous IRST/LR in front of the canopy, a white IFR probe light on the starboard side of the nose, a JF-17 style glass cockpit with a wide-angle holographic HUD, three large color MFDs. The new IRST allows passive detection of enemy aircraft, making J-10B more stealthy in combat. Its nose appears flatter too, similar to that of American F-16, housing a new fire-control radar which is thought to be an X-band PESA developed by the 607 Institute (track 10, engage 4 simultaneously), the first of such type ever being developed for a Chinese fighter aircraft, giving J-10B a stronger multi-target engagement and ECCM capability. It was rumored that initially the aircraft was planned to be fitted with an AESA developed by the 14th Institute but the radar was not ready by the time the aircraft was in production. An ECM antenna can also be seen right in front of the canard foreplane on the 1035 prototype. The tip of vertical fin was redesigned as well, featuring a long compartment housing communication and ECM antennas, which resembles that of French Mirage 2000. A rear facing MAWS sensor can be seen underneath the parachute boom. A similar system was tested onboard FC-1/JF-17. RAM coating is also expected in certain areas such as engine inlet and wing leading edges to reduce RCS. All these improvements suggest that J-10B is equipped with a new generation of integrated electronic system connected via an optic HSDB, ranging from radar to EW system. Its mission may be changed from air-superiority to multi-role, such as CAS or EW. For air-superiority mission, normally 6 AAMs (PL-12x4 + PL-8x2 or PL-10x2, PL-12s are carried underneath the dual missile launch rails) are carried. However it is still unclear if it can carry the latest PL-15 AAM. For CAS missions, it is expected to carry 2 KD-88/88A AGMs, or 2 JG-500 LGBs, or 2 new JG-500B 500kg LGBs. 2 YJ-91s can be carried for SEAD missions. The laser designator pod is thought to be K/JDC01A. A K/RKL700A ECM pod can also be carried underneath the engine air intake for enhanced EW capability. Overall J-10B is thought to be comparable to American F-16E/Block 60. The 03 prototype (1033) first flew in August 2009, with the pitot tube removed from the nose tip. Both 1031 & 1034 prototypes were tested at CFTE. An indigenous WS-10B turbofan engine was tested for some time on 1035 in 2011 but did not proceed forward.  J-10B is likely to serve as a testbed for various advanced technologies adopted by the 4th generation J-20 currently under development at CAC thus may not enter the service in large quantity with PLAAF. In March 2013 the 1031 prototype was seen with ECM antennas installed ahead of the canard foreplanes similar to those onboard 1035, which represents the final configuration before the production. The production of J-10B finally started in 2013 after the delivery of a new batch of AL-31FN Series 3 engines (13.7t with A/B). By May 2015 around 53 01 batch J-10Bs had been produced and the delivery started in 2014, possibly to the PLAAF Flight Test & Training Base, PLAAF 5th Brigade and the 61st Brigade (S/N 78x1x, 61x6x, 66x7x, 67x2x, 78x7x?). Meanwhile a further upgraded variant (J-10C) with an AESA radar was under development (see below). Recent images (September 2015) indicated that the improved WS-10B turbofan with FADEC has been installed onboard the last two J-10Bs of the 01 batch (#0155 & 0156, S/N 78x1x?), suggesting the engine has finally overcome the reliability issues and is ready to power the remaining batches of J-10Cs. J-10B was officially unveiled at the 2016 Zhuhai Airshow, carrying dual PL-12 missile launch railsA recent image (December 2017) indicated that a new WS-10B3 turbofan engine with a stealth sawtooth TVC nozzle was tested onboard the J-10B #1034 engine testbed. The test results could be beneficial to the current J-20 project. First flight occurred on December 25, 2017. The latest image (December 2020) indicated that some J-10Bs started to wear a new low-visibility PLAAF insignia and serial number. Their IFF antennas were also upgraded.
 - Last Updated 12/19/20

J-10C Vigorous Dragon/Firebird

It was first rumored in June 2013 that a "full standard" variant (J-10C, K/JJ10C?) with enhanced 4th generation electronics including an AESA radar, which is finally available, and an improved glass cockpit was under development. The J-10C (K/JJ10C?) #201 prototype (later renumbered as #1051) took off for the first time on December 31, 2013, powered by an AL-31FN Series 3 engine. The aircraft appears to have close similarity with J-10B except for an additional datalink antenna on its spine ahead of the vertical fin, which has been speculated to provide mid-course update for the long-range PL-15 AAM. Besides up to 4 PL-12s under the dual missile launch rails, the aircraft is capable of carrying the latest PL-10 and PL-15 AAMs (up to 4 can also be carried under the dual missile launch rails), plus YJ-91 ARM, JG-500B LGB, KD-88/88A ASM and YJ-83K AShM. It can also carry a KL-700A ECM pod and a K/JDC01A FLIR/laser designation pod underneath the engine air intake. Images taken in November 2015 indicated that the production of the 02 batch had begun, believed to be J-10Cs. They had VLOC antennas installed on top of the vertical fin and don't have the rear MAWS sensors on the root of fin (reason unknown). The aircraft is still powered by AL-31FN Series 3 turbofan and WS-10B was expected to be fitted in the future. J-10C has been in the service with PLAAF  since 2016 (S/N 78x1x? 74x2x, 61x6x, 68x3x, 78x8x). J-10C was officially unveiled during the PLA 90th Anniversary parade in August 2017. Images released in November 2017 indicated that IIR MAWS sensors (S740) were installed on the side of engine air intake as well as at the tip of vertical fin for the newly built J-10Cs. An image posted in October 2018 indicated that the 03 batch entered the service with PLAAF (S/N 61x6x). An image posted in July 2019 indicated that the 04 batch powered by the indigenous WS-10B turbofan without the TVC nozzle was in production. Images posted in December 2019 and June 2021 respectively indicated the 05 batch and 06 batch powered by the WS-10B engine were in production. Some J-10C pilot have been wearing a new HMDS similar to American JHMCS, which would maximize the HOBS capability of PL-10 AAM. The export version of J-10C is called J-10CE and the first customer could be Pakistani AF who needs the aircraft (dubbed J-10CP?) to counter the Indian AF's Rafale. A recent rumor (July 2020) suggested that a semi-stealth variant (J-10D?) was being developed to supplement the more expensive J-20 and J-35. A recent image (December 2020) indicated that J-10C started to wear a new low-visibility PLAAF insignia and serial number. Another recent image (May 2021) indicated that J-10C powered by the WS-10B turbofan engine has entered the service with PLAAF (S/N 78x1x? 63x6x). The latest image (June 2021) indicated that the some have been fitted with a new narrow frame holographic HUD similar to the one onboard JF-17 Block III (see below). The latest rumor (November 2021) suggested that the first J-10D prototype has been built at CAC. Its maiden flight is expected to be by the end of the year.
- Last Updated 11/20/21

Su-27SK/J-11/11A Flanker

A pair of PLAAF J-11s (K/JJ11?) were taking off which proudly display their Mighty Lion brigade badges painted below the cockpit and on the vertical fin. A total three batches of Su-27s were imported. The first batch of 26 (20 SK & 6 UBK, S: serial, K: commercial, $32m each) were acquired starting 1992. The second batch of 24 (16 Su-27SK and 8 Su-27UBK) were acquired starting 1996. The third batch of 28 Su-27UBKs ($35m each) were acquired starting 2000 to speed up the training of qualified pilots. This heavy air-superiority fighter, combined with up to 10 AA-10 (R-27T1/R1, IR/SAR homing to 30/35km), AA-11 (R-73, IR homing to 15km) AAMs, NSts-27 HMS and Gardeniya wingtip ECM pods (later by domestic KL609A), gave PLAAF for the first time a truly offensive capability both in long-range BVR attack and short-range dog fight. Its N001 radar can track ten and engage one target at a time. The third batch UBKs are believed to have the improved N001VE radar installed which is able to engage two targets simultaneously using R-27 and the R-77 active radar homing AAM. Chinese Su-27/J-11s were also seen participating in attacking ground targets using unguided rockets and free-fall bombs. However this has raised doubts among some western observers over the soundness of risking such high value assets to fly the dangerous ground attack mission. In a shocking accident, 5 Su-27s were seriously damaged during a typhoon in 1998. A few more are believed to have been lost during the years of service. They were first replaced by the imported Su-27s from Russia then later by locally assembled J-11s from Shenyang. More significantly, a $1.2 billion contract to license-build 200 Su-27s (under the designation of J-11 domestic use only, no exports) at Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) was reached in late 1995 and finalized at the end of 1996. Nevertheless this co-production plan inevitably cost much of the limited resource available to PLAAF and to Chinese aviation industry, thus may have made some negative impact on other indigenous fighter projects, such as J-10. The first two J-11s rolled out in December 1998 using the kit supplied by KnAAPO but were reported to have suffered QC problems. An annual production rate between 15 and 20 was achieved by 2003. A total of 95 kits were delivered from KnAAPO by summer 2004. The use of domestically made parts will begin after the first 60 are assembled using Russian kits and eventually 60-70% of the parts will be manufactured in China (excluding AL-31F engine, which was denied by Russia for the license). J-11 was later upgraded with Russian assistance which features two color MFDs in the cockpit replacing the old monochrome radar scope. One normally serves as a digital moving map display (coupled with GPS). The aircraft can fire R-27RE1 SARH AAM with an extended range of 66km. It can also fire the actively guided R-77, suggesting an improved fire-control system. This may have been the result of assistance from Ukraine or Belarus. This variant (dubbed J-11A?) first flew in December 1999. A further upgraded variant dubbed J-11B was developed as well (see below). The first phase production concluded by the end of 2006 after a total of 105 J-11s were produced in 4 batches. The production has been switched to J-11B in the subsequent phase. The Su-27SK series is expected to be replaced by either J-11B or J-16. Since November 2014 some (S/N 66x6x, 61x5x, 65x1x, 65x2x) have been upgraded with two UV band MAWS antennas behind the cockpit plus two on the vertical fins to provide coverage for both forward and rear hemispheres. The latest image (July 2021) indicated that some J-11As have been upgraded with new IFF antennas underneath the nose and on top of the tail sting.
- Last Updated 7/18/21

J-11B/BS/BG Flanker

A PLAAF J-11B (K/JJ11B?) was landing carrying PL-8 and PL-12 AAMs underneath its wings. This demonstrates Chinese effort to integrate their own weapon systems into a classic Russian design in order to further boost its combat capability and survivability. Their effort includes a Chinese multifunction PD radar (Type 1493? search >150km, track 6-8, engage 4 simultaneously) and ARINC429 data bus compatible with PL-8, PL-12, and the newest PL-15 AAM (after fire-control system upgrade), a Chinese made IRST/LR, as well as a redesigned glass cockpit featuring 5 MFDs and a new wide-angle holographic HUD (WTK-1?). A new Chinese ECM system was installed internally thus the wingtip ECM pods are no longer needed. The aircraft also has a new UV band missile approach warning system (MAWS). Two sensors are installed on both sides of the tail sting to provide coverage for the rear hemisphere. Its weight has been reduced by 700kg by using composite materials at various places. The Russian AL-31F engine was replaced by the indigenous WS-10D. One WS-10D (Taihang 12.5t class) turbofan was tested on a CFTE J-11WS engine testbed in June 2002. The first J-11B prototype powered by WS-10D flew in 2004. Four prototypes were tested at CFTE (#523-526), each has different configurations to test individual subsystems in order to speed up the development. At least one prototype (#524) was involved in the takeoff experiments from a land-based ski-jump for the J-15 carrier-borne fighter project (see below). The first batch of J-11B entered the service with PLAAF 1st Brigade (S/N 61x2x) in late 2007. However the initial batch of J-11Bs powered by the indigenous WS-10D turbofans were quickly grounded due to the poor quality of the engine. They were forced to be powered by Russian AL-31F turbofans until WS-10D's reliability problem was solved. By the end of 2009 it appeared that the engine quality problem was solved and the aircraft (02 and later batches) started to fly with WS-10D installed. The latest batches may have been fitted with further improved WS-10D turbofans with a higher thrust (13.2t?) and FADEC. More J-11Bs are in the service with PLAAF (S/N 70x0x, 72x2x, 78x6x, 63x0x, 65x2x, 78x2x, 78x8x, 72x0x) powered by WS-10D engines including the 01 batch which was retrofitted with WS-10D again. In spring 2010 PLAN started to receive land-based J-11Bs (as J-11BH?), wearing a light gray camouflage (S/N 81x8x, 81x9x, 83x8x). Some of them were deployed on Paracel Islands in South China Sea facing Vietnam and Philippines. A tandem seat trainer version was also developed for PLAAF (J-11BSas well as PLAN (J-11BSH?). It was reported in June 2016 that some J-11Bs have been upgraded with an indigenous datalink similar to American Link-16. A recent image (November 2017) indicated that some J-11Bs started to carry the KL700B pod to further enhance its ECM capability. A larger type of ECM pod (KG800?) was seen being carried as well in December 2019. A recent image (November 2019) suggested that J-11B fleet could have been upgraded (J-11BG/BD? S/N 61x2x, 63x0x?) based on the experience of J-11D and/or J-16. The upgrade may include an advanced integrated avionics suite featuring an AESA radar inside a light gray color radome plus the capability to launch PL-10/PL-15 AAMs. The aircraft is also fitted with the new WS-10/03 Series turbofan engines. The same upgrade is also expected to be applied to the newly produced batches. A recent image (February 2020) indicated that J-11B/BS have been flying long-range escort missions with H-6K over the West Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. Another recent image (February 2021) indicated that some naval J-11B/BS started to wear a 2-digit low-visibility serial number. 
- Last Updated 8/19/21

J-11D Flanker

A much improved variant of J-11B has been under development at 601/SAC as J-11D. Compared to J-11B, it features a new AESA radar in an oval shaped nose cone and an improved digital FBW system which are similar to those of J-16. J-11D can also carry the latest generation of AAMs including PL-10 and PL-15. Two extra hard points were added to the inner wings. As the result up to 12 AAMs can be carried. More composite material was used in its wing and tail sections in order to reduce weight. The aircraft might also have a RAM coating to reduce the RCS but this has not been confirmed. The AESA radar was speculated to have been developed by the 14th Institute. The first J-11D prototype (D1101, later renamed 11D1) took off for the first time from the SAC airfield on April 29, 2015, powered by two WS-10D turbofans. Similar to J-16an IFR probe was installed on the port side of the windshield, while the IRST/LR was offset to the starboard side. There was a rumor that the engines could be the upgraded WS-10X with a max thrust of 14t but this has yet to be confirmed. J-11D is thought to be in the same class of American F/A-18E and Russian Su-35S thus it might have been competing with the future acquisition of Su-35S (see below). It was rumored that the 11D2 prototype flew for the first time on October 27, 2015 at SAC.  The radar nose cone features saw tooth structures along the base where attached to the fuselage to reduce RCS. Both prototypes were later transferred to CFTE for further testing. A recent rumor (March 2017) claimed that the project has been delayed due to the full-scale production of J-11B and J-16. A recent image (February 2021) indicated that the J-11D prototype was making various test flights at SAC, suggesting the project could still be alive. Some of the new technologies such as the AESA radar may have been used to benefit the J-11B upgrade project (J-11BD? see above) as well as the ongoing J-15T project (see below). The latest rumor (October 2021) suggested that the first serial production J-11D just rolled down the assembly line.
- Last Updated 10/23/21

J-15 Flying Shark/Flanker

The J-15 #108 was landing at the SAC airfield. J-15 (H/JJ15?) is the first generation of Chinese carrier-borne fighter aircraft being developed by both 601 Institute and SAC for PLAN's first generation aircraft carriers including Liaoning. In order to save time and cut cost, the aircraft was developed based on Russian Su-33 in terms of structural configuration and flight control system as well as domestic J-11B (see above) in terms of radar and weapon systems. Similar to Su-33, J-15 features enlarged folding wings/horizontal stabilizers, strengthened landing gears with twin nose wheels, an arresting hook, a pair of small canard foreplanes to improve its low speed handling and shortened tail cone to avoid tail-strike during high AoA landing. Composite materials are used in certain areas such as vertical fins to reduce weight. Some key shipborne aircraft technologies such as landing/navigational systems are believed to have been obtained from Russia and Ukraine. The aircraft also features a retractable IFR probe on the port side and can carry a Russian UPAZ-1A buddy refueling pod under the centerline station. This enables J-15 to take off with a full weapon load and fly a long-range attack/interception mission via inflight refueling from another dedicated J-15 tanker. One Su-33 prototype (T-10K-3) was acquired from Ukraine around 2001 and has been studied extensively. Some components onboard J-15 are based on those of J-11B, such as the glass cockpit with 7 LCDs, MAWS sensors on the tail sting as well as the improved WS-10H turbofan engine with a higher TO thrust (12,800kg) and better acceleration in order to achieve full-load taking off from the ski-jump. In addition it appears to have a new indigenous IRST/LR installed. Its fire-control radar is thought to be based on the Type 1493 PD radar with enhanced air-to-sea capability. It can also carry a variety of Chinese designed precision weapons, including PL-8, PL-12 AAMs, YJ-83K AShM, KD-88/KD-88A ASM and YJ-91 ARM. There was a rumor that J-15 is able to carry the new YJ-12 supersonic AShM under its belly centerline station but this has not been confirmed. Overall J-15 is believed to be in the same class of American F/A-18C, thus more versatile than Su-33. However J-15 was expected to have a limited production and deployment since its technology is no longer state of the art, but it is also expected to be upgraded in the future. Some specifications of J-15 (estimated): length 22.28m, wingspan 15m, height 5.92m, max speed Mach 2.4, range 3,500km, ceiling 20,000m, max TO weight 32.5t. The first prototype (dubbed J-11C?) was assembled at SAC in 2008. Its maiden flight took place on August 31, 2009, powered by two Russian AL-31F turbofan engines. The first takeoff from a land based simulated ski-jump occurred on May 6, 2010 at CFTE. Additional J-15 prototypes (#554 & 557?) were seen wearing a light naval blue color scheme and powered by two WS-10H engines. However the WS-10H onboard #554 were later replaced by the more reliable AL-31F turbofan. At least 7 prototypes (S/N 551-557) were undergoing various tests on the simulated flight decks on land, mostly powered by Russian AL-31F turbofans. It started to practice touch-and-go landings on the deck of Liaoning during her sea trials in summer 2012. On November 23,  2012 J-15 prototypes #552 and 553 landed and took off officially for the first time on Liaoning, marking a concrete step for both J-15 and the aircraft carrier to achieve full operation status. J-15 prototypes were seen conducting taking off and landing tests onboard Liaoning carrying various air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons in September 2013. The 01 batch J-15s (J-15A? S/N 100-109) started to be handed over to PLAN Carrier Fighter Group in late 2013, carrying a 3-digit serial number and powered by AL-31F engines. They have been stationed onboard Liaoning since late 2014. The 02 batch (S/N 110-123) J-15s delivered to PLAN first appeared in October 2015. A twin-seat trainer version  (dubbed J-15S) was developed too. Its prototype first took off from SAC airfield on November 3, 2012. Similar to J-16 for PLAAF, J-15S is powered by WS-10H engines (14t class?) and features a modified canopy for better forward view from the back seat. The twin-seater could evolve into a dedicated EW aircraft (as J-15D see below) in the same class of American EA-18G based on similar technology onboard J-16D. One J-15S prototype (#561) was evaluated at CFTE in 2015, wearing a standard "Flying Shark" naval blue color scheme. It was rumored in April 2017 that the production of J-15 stopped after 2 batches of 24 units for the Type 001 aircraft carrier. The aircraft was speculated to be followed by an improved version (as J-15T see below) which could feature a new AESA radar developed by the 607 Institute, enhanced WS-10X turbofan engines and carry the new PL-10/PL-15 AAMs. A recent video (May 2018) indicated that J-15 has practiced taking off and landing at night in an effort to achieve full operational capability. A video shown in December 2018 suggested that at least one J-15S (prototype?) was evaluated by PLAN. Another recent video (July 2020) indicated that J-15 performed inflight refueling for the first time at night. A recent image (February 2020) suggested that SAC started to built the 03 batch for the the indigenous Type 002 aircraft carrier. Another image (September 2020) suggested that the 03 batch has entered the service with PLAN (S/N 3x, 6x, 7x). However externally the 03/04 batches appear the same as the first two batches. A recent video (May 2021) indicated that some J-15s have been deployed to the Lingshui Airbase in support of the 2nd aircraft carrier Shandong currently stationed in Hainan Island. The latest image (August 2021) indicated that the 04 batch has entered the service with PLAN.
- Last Updated 12/27/21

J-15D Flying Shark/Flanker

This EW variant of J-15S (J-15D/J-18?) was developed based on the experience of J-16D. As the result the pure trainer version (J-15S) was thought to have been axed. The first prototype of J-15D was rumored to  have flown on October 25, 2016 and a prototype in full standard flew in early 2018. The aircraft carries two large wingtip ESM/ELINT pods similar to those onboard J-16D, with the windshield IRST/LR removed as well. Additional conformal antenna fairings have been identified throughout the aircraft. A new blade antenna was installed outside the engine air intake. J-15D has also been speculated to feature an AESA radar. The pilot in the rear cockpit serves as the weapon system officer. It is also expected to carry two or four large ECM pods under the wings and one underneath the fuselage plus a new type of ARM based on the PL-15 AAM. J-15D is expected to be stationed onboard the indigenous Type 003 CATOBAR carrier. Currently (December 2019) one J-15D prototype (#563?) is being evaluated by the PLAN Carrier Fighter Group.
- Last Updated 12/23/20

J-15T Super Flying Shark/Flanker

It was first rumored in October 2014 that a CATOBAR variant (J-15T?) was being co-developed by the 601 Institute and CSIC 704 Institute. This variant features a further strengthened nose landing gear in order to withstand the high-g force during the catapult launch. The first prototype flew for the first time iJuly 2016, powered by two indigenous WS-10H enginesThe nose landing gear appears to have a much longer and wider drag strut. It was rumored in November 2016 that a J-15T took off successfully for the first time from a ground-based electromagnetic catapult (EMALS). A recent image (February 2021) suggested that J-15T (officially designated as J-15B?) CATOBAR variant is in production at SAC featuring a new narrow frame wide-angle holographic HUD and a pair of handholds attached to the canopy for catapult launch. In addition, the aircraft could feature a new AESA radar developed by the 607 Institute and carry the latest PL-10/PL-15 AAMs. Consequently the old PF8 wingtip missile launch pylons (for PL-8B) have been replaced by PF10 (for PL-10). In addition, the aircraft might feature a J-11D style nose cone without the pitot tube. J-15T is expected to be stationed onboard the new Type 003 CATOBAR carrier which is still under construction, and eventually followed by the next generation stealth fighter J-35 which is still under development.
- Last Updated 12/14/21
FC-1/JF-17 Fierce Dragon/Thunder

First revealed in 1995 as the successor of the cancelled Sino-US Super-7 project, FC-1 (Fighter China-1, max TO weight 12,700kg, max speed M 1.8, service ceiling 16,920m, max external load 3,600kg, ferry range 3,480km, combat radius 1,352km, max g load +8.5) was developed by CAC/611 Institute (with some technical assistance from Russian Mikoyan OKB) as a "medium tech", light weight fighter/ground attack aircraft carrying a relatively cheap price tag (~$20m). As a fighter designed for export, its main customer was expected to be Pakistan who also shares 50% of the total cost (around $150m). It may also compete with second-hand F-16s to seize the market created by the retirement of Mig-21s, Mirage III and F-5s. Currently powered by a Russian RD-93 turbofan (upgraded RD-33, rated 8,795kg with A/B), it could also be powered by a locally produced WS-13 Taishan once the engine is ready. The A-6 style "V" shaped air-intakes are believed to provide smooth air flow to the engine at high AoA. The fire control radar is thought to be a Chinese KLJ-7V2 X-band multi-functional PD radar (track 10 and engage 2 simultaneously, look-up range 110km for RCS=3m2). A Chinese AESA radar might be installed in later batches. Other electronics include an NVG compatible glass cockpit (EFIS) with three 8"x6" color MFDs, HOTAS, AIFF, 1553B databus and INS/GPS. Weapon load includes both short (PL-5EII) and medium-range AAMs (SD-10A). LGBs (GBU-12), GPS/INS guided glide bombs (LS-6 or MK8x-REK), anti-radiation missiles (Brazilian MAR-1) and IRST/laser designation pod (ASELPOD) can also be carried for ground attack missions. Up to 2 C-802AK AShMs can be carried for anti-ship missions. For high value fixed targets, up to 2 CM-400AKG standoff supersonic ASMs can be carried. For self-protection purpose a KG600 ECM pod can be carried underneath centerline pylon. The development schedule of FC-1 was repeatedly delayed caused by various problems, such as lack of funding, the reluctance of western countries to supply advanced avionics, as well as the revised specifications set by PAF to counter the threat from India's LCAs. These specifications included a true BVR attack capability with active radar guided medium-range AAMs (SD-10A). However, FC-1's prospect in the domestic market had diminished, as PLAAF had committed to the more advanced J-10 as its new generation fighter along with J-11 and was reluctant to acquire any FC-1s due to its less advanced design and a Russian engine. After lengthy negotiations, Pakistani government finally signed the contract with CATIC and CAC/611 in 1999 and gave the "go ahead" order to the much delayed project. The development was further accelerated after PAF recommitted the project and confirmed FC-1's technical specifications in detail in February 2001. A full-scale mock-up was quickly constructed. A total of 6 prototypes (01-06) were built at CAC. The 01 prototype rolled down the assembly line on May 31, 2003 with two small wing fences. Its maiden flight took place on August 25, 2003. The 03 prototype first flew on April 9, 2004 without the two small wing fences. The 04 prototype was expected to fly by the end of 2005 with full suite of avionics but this was delayed until April 2006 due to several structural modifications. They include new diverterless supersonic inlets (DSI/Bump) similar to those of American F-35 to reduce weight and achieve better performance. A large rectangular-shaped fairing is installed on top of the vertical fin which may house ECM equipment. Its flight control includes a Type 634 quadruplex digital FBW in pitch axis and a duplex analog FBW in roll axis. A UV band MAWS has been installed at the root of the vertical fin to provide rear hemisphere coverage. Two enlarged F/A-18 style LERX are thought to offer higher AOA as well. The first flight of 04 prototype took place on April 28, 2006, and 06 prototype on September 10, 2006. The first two pre-production JF-17s (PAF designation Joint Fighter-17 Block I, 00 batch/07-101 & 102) were delivered to Pakistan on March 2, 2007, with the nose-tip pitot tube removed. The 01 batch of 6 JF-17s (08-103 -- 08-108) were delivered between March and April 2008. The contract for PAF to acquire another 42 JF-17s assembled by PAC was singed on March 7, 2009. The first two (09-109 & 110) were built by CAC. The first JF-17 (09-111) in the batch of 4 assembled by PAC rolled out on November 23, 2009. The production of the 50 Block I concluded by the end of 2013 with another 50 Block II following in 2014. Besides Pakistan, several Asian, African and South America countries also expressed interest in FC-1/JF-17, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Argentina, Nigeria, Malaysia and Iran. FC-1 passed design appraisal in December 2009. The first taxiing test of FC-1 powered by an indigenous WS-13 took place on March 18, 2010, but the results were unsatisfactory. A further upgraded variant (JF-17 Block II) featuring a detachable IFR probe on the starboard side of the cockpit, similar to that of J-10, improved avionics (including secure datalink with ZDK-03) and enhanced precision-guided weapon capability has been developed. The aircraft may also fly ESM/ECM missions with a new EW podAn LED probe light was installed on top of the right engine intake behind the IFR probe to illuminate both the probe and the drogue from the tanker during night operations. The aircraft is to be supported by PAF Il-78MP tanker. The IFR test was believed to have started in 2017. All Block IIs starting from 16-229 and on will have the IFR probe and probe light installed. The Block II variant is expected to be followed by the much improved Block III (see below). It was reported in November 2016 that 611 Institute was studying a semi-stealth concept of FC-1 (JF-17 Block IV?) to further explore its export potential. The aircraft might have certain stealth features such as a redesigned stealth nose with a one-piece F-22 style canopy. A tandem-seat trainer version (JF-17B) has been under development since 2013 (see below). The assembling of the first three JF-17 Block IIs (S/N 15-2xx) started at PAC in mid-2014. First flight of 15-201 took place on February 9, 2015. A total of 50 were built by the end of 2017, 12 more by 2019. It is expected that all the Block I/II JF-17s will be upgraded with the KLJ-7A AESA radar. It was reported in June 2015 that JF-17 secured its first export contract from an Asian customer which turned out to be Myanmar. The $560m contract could involve an initial batch of 16 aircraft. A recent image (July 2016) suggested that the 04 prototype has been wearing a new blue color scheme based upon customer's requirements. The first JF-17M (Block II standard) had its maiden flight at CAC on June 13, 2017, featuring a blue/gray camouflage and a color LED landing light on the front landing gear similar to that onboard JF-17B. However the aircraft appears to lack the IFR capability. A recent image (October 2018) indicated that the first batch of 5 JF-17Ms (S/N 1701-1705) were delivered to Myanmar Air Force, which has become the second customer of the aircraft. It was reported in September 2016 that Nigerian AF decided to acquire 3 JF-17Ns. All three (720, 721, 722) were delivered in early 2021. They were inducted into NAF on May 20, 2021. It was rumored that NAF has decided to acquire additional squadrons of JF-17N.
- Last Updated 11/26/21

JF-17B Fierce Dragon/Thunder

This tandem-seat trainer version was developed at the request of Pakistani AF, which also pre-ordered the first prototype. JF-17B is believed to have been based on the JF-17 Block II configuration with a IFR probe and an LED probe light installed on the starboard side of the forward fuselage. The aircraft features an enlarged and raised spine which creates additional space for flight instruments and fuel in order to compensate the space occupied by the rear cockpit. The aircraft also features a more swept vertical fin in order to reduce drag and to maintain the center of gravity. A new color LED landing light was installed above the front landing gear. A more powerful cockpit environmental control system has been installed as well to accommodate two pilots. More composite materials have been used in order to reduce the weight and to strengthen the structure. JF-17B is reportedly controlled by a new 3-axis digital FBW system replacing the old analog system. The aircraft is equipped with the same KLJ-7 PD fire-control radar and retain the same BVR as well as precision air-to-ground strike capabilities (including CS/BBF1 FAE) as JF-17 Block II. As the result JF-17B represents a very attractive option to foreign customers with limited budget and resources. Its length is 14.5m, height is 4.6m, TO weight is 9.4t, max external load is 4.6t. A model of the aircraft was first unveiled at the 2013 Paris Airshow by CATIC. The development started officially in 2014. The 01 prototype of JF-17B was constructed in December 2016 and conducted its first taxiing test on April 21, 2017. The JF-17B BC0001 prototype conducted its maiden flight on April 27, 2017. The JF-17B 02 prototype flew for the first time on December 7, 2017. Later the 01 prototype (17-601) conducted test flights at PAC with the pitot tube removed from the nose. The 03 prototype (19-603) conducted its maiden flight on August 3rd, 2018. 26 were reportedly ordered by PAF. The first batch of 8 JF-17Bs (including prototypes) were ready for delivery at PAC in late 2019. The production of last 14 JF-17Bs were completed by December 2020 and all aircraft are in service with PAF. One PAF JF-17B crashed in August 2021. A recent image (March 2019) indicated that first customer of JF-17B was actually the Myanmar Air Force. So far two JF-17Bs (S/N 1706 & 1707) were delivered to MAF. The latest news (September 2021) suggested that Argentinian AF is interested in acquiring 2 JF-17Bs to support its future JF-17 Block III fleet.
- Last Updated 1/13/22

JF-17 Block III Fierce Dragon/Thunder

The JF-17 Block III 3001 prototype was landing at the CAC airfield, carrying two PL-10E IIR guided AAMs at the wingtips. As the latest variant of JF-17, Block III (JF-17C?) carries PAF's ambition to counter the threat from IAF's most powerful 3.5th generation fighter Rafale. The aircraft was expected to feature a more powerful engine, a new AESA radar developed by NETRI/14th Institute (KLJ-7A, range 170km, track 15, engage 4) or by the 607 Institute (LKF601E, air cooled), HMDS, IRST, upgraded EW suite, new datalink, full authority digital FBW and a variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground guided weapons including PL-10E IIR guided AAM, PL-15E active radar homing AAM (using twin launch rails) and CM-400AKG ASM. Additional hard points are installed including ones underneath the engine air intake for ECM or targeting pod. The maiden flight of the #3000 prototype took place on December 15, 2019. Images of the flight indicated the JF-17 Block III prototype features a J-20 style narrow frame wide-angle holographic HUD (EHUD-2?), a slightly enlarged spine, and new forward MAWS sensors behind the engine air intakes. The rear MAWS sensors were relocated to the EW compartment on top of the vertical fin as well. Otherwise the overall aerodynamic configuration remains the unchanged and the aircraft is still powered by the original RD-93 engine. A recent report (February 2020) suggested that the KLJ-7A AESA radar has been chosen by PAF. It was rumored that Argentinian AF, Iraqi AF and Azerbaijani AF have showed some interest. PAC formally launched the production work of JF-17 Block III on December 30, 2020. At least 8 (3Pxx) were on the assembly line, which are powered by the original RD-93 engine. A recent report (August 2021) suggested that an indigenous WS-13X engine has been tested successfully onboard a JF-17 Block III prototype, making it more competitive on the international market. A recent news (September 2021) suggested Argentinian AF is interested in acquiring 10 JF-17 Block IIIs to counter RAF Typhoons on the Falkland Islands. The latest images (January 2022) indicated that the first 8 assembled JF-17 Block IIIs just rolled out at PAC. A total of 50 were reportedly ordered by PAF to replace the remaining F-7PGs.
- Last Updated 1/4/22

Su-35S Flanker

One of the PLAAF Su-35Ss was taking off in Russia. It was reported in November 2015 that China finally signed the contract with Russia to acquire 24 Su-35Ss (Su-35SK?) for $2b after years of rumors. It was speculated that Chinese are most interested in the N135 Irbis-E PESA radar, quadruplex digital FBW system, and 117S turbofan engine with TVC nozzle. It was also speculated that the aircraft is being acquired as a stop-gap measure until the indigenous J-11D (see above) enters the service in large numbers. Compared to the Su-35S in service with Russian Air Force, the Chinese Su-35S has the middle navigational antenna removed from the rear edge of its right vertical fin. The aircraft is thought to carry the new L-265M10-2 Khibiny-M ECM pods at wingtips. It can also carry small EO pods under the wing which has been speculated to be the “general purpose” training rounds for various EO guided bombs or air-to-surface missiles. Su-35S has multiple MAWS and LWR installed throughout its forward fuselage. However air-to-air missiles it carries (R-74/R-77-1) are already inferior to the latest Chinese designs (PL-10/PL-15). The delivery of the first 4 took place on December 25, 2016 (4 in 2016, 10 in 2017, 10 in 2018), wearing a Russian style blue/gray camouflage. They were speculated to have first entered the service with the PLAAF 6th Brigade facing the South China Sea (S/N 61x7x). The heavy fighter could provide long-range escort for the H-6K cruise missile carrier patrolling over the West Pacific and over the South China Sea. It was rumored that the second batch of 5 was delivered on June 28, 2017. The third batch of 5 were delivered on December 1, 2017. The Chinese Su-35S was first unveiled to the public on February 7, 2018. The latest news (May 2018) indicated that Su-35S flew the escort mission with H-6K during the patrol circling the Taiwan Island. It was rumored that 5 were delivered on June 29, 2018. The recent news (November 2018) suggested that the last 10 has been delivered. It has been rumored that China was interested in ordering another 24 but this never materialized.
- Last Updated 10/28/20