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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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