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J-15B fighters will take off from the Chinese Fujian (Type-003) Aircraft Carrier

J-15B fighters will take off from the Chinese Fujian (Type-003) Aircraft Carrier
Chinese J-15 fighter taking off from Liaoning Aircraft Carrier

On June 17, China launched its Type 003 or Fujian aircraft carrier, the first modern aircraft carrier manufactured outside the United States and close in size to the American Kitty Hawk and Gerald R. Ford aircraft carriers. Speculation immediately began as to which fighter would take off from Fujian.

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At the same time, an old fighter with a new design appeared in China. This is a J-11 redesigned as a J-15B. It is J-15B that is currently being linked to the fighter, which will take off from one of the three catapult runways of the Chinese Fujian carrier. It is quite possible that a fighter who waited for decades, such as the J-15B, will turn out to be a naval fighter, especially if it uses a large part of the capabilities, avionics, and armament of its predecessor J-11. Last but not least, the J-15s are the “flying wings” of two other Chinese aircraft carriers.

Chinese Type-003 Fujian Aircraft Carrier after launching ceremony on June 17th

But the J-15B is a completely different fighter from the standard J-15 or its other variants. The “masked” J-11 as the J-15B should have better air-to-air capabilities than other Chinese fighter – the J-16 and even the flagship Russian aircraft Su-35. The superiority is expected to be achieved with better composite materials, a lighter and more durable hull, the use of AESA radar [something that the Russian Su-35 does not yet have], a three-dimensional thrust vectoring engine, low radar coverage or stealth technology, as well as avionics, which is said [in China] to be the most modern, sophisticated and effective in the world.

The qualities of the J-11 and why this particular aircraft was chosen as the basis of the new Chinese naval fighter are evidenced by the fact that the fifth-generation fighter of the Air Force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army J-20 uses modernized avionics, including the integration of AESA radar by Super Flanker Jay-11. Experts believe that the production of J-20 is the reason why J-11 came off the production line and turned out to be unnecessary, although it is not inferior to J-20. However, China will apparently find application in J-11 technology, turning it into a “marine” J-15B.

The J-15B is likely to receive air support from another fifth-generation naval fighter being developed by China, the FC-31. The aircraft carrier Fujian will be able to afford two types of fighters, as it is approximately twice as large as its other two predecessors – Liaoning and Shandong. It remains to be seen whether the J-11 will be returned to the production line as a surface-to-air fighter, or whether the allegations and speculations will be correct and it will serve as the basis for the J-15B to become China’s flagship naval aviation.

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