China's J-15 Carrier-Based Fighter

A J-15 prototype was seen parked at the SAC airfield in May 2010 revealing its arresting hook retracted beneath the redesigned tail cone. J-15 is the first generation of Chinese shipborne fighter aircraft being developed by both 601 Institute and SAC for PLAN's first aircraft carrier.

Initially there were rumors claiming that J-15 was a new semi-stealth design based on a similar but more advanced stealth design developed earlier by SAC/601 Institute to compete for the J-20 project (see below), but this design (J-19?) turned out to be a follow-on design which is in the early development stage at SAC .

In order to save time and cut cost, the aircraft is now believed to be 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 folding wings, strengthened landing gears, an arresting hook, a pair of small canard foreplanes to improve its low speed handling and shortened tailcone to avoid tail-strike during high AoA landing. Some key shipborne aircraft technologies such as landing/navigational systems are believed to have been obtained from Russia and Ukraine.

One Su-33 prototype (T-10K-3) was acquired from Ukraine around 2001 and has been studied extensively. J-15 is believed to share many common components with J-11B, such as a similar radar, the same glass cockpit as well as the improved WS-10 turbofan engine. It can also fire a variety of Chinese designed weapons, including PL-8, PL-12 AAMs and YJ-83K AShM. Overall J-15 is believed to be in the same class of American F/A-18C. The first prototype has been undergoing assembly at SAC since 2008.

J-15 is expected first to be stationed onboard the Varyag aircraft carrier currently being fitted in Dalian. The first prototype made its maiden flight on August 31, 2009, powered by the domestic WS-10 turbofan engines. The latest rumor claimed that the first takeoff from a land based simulated ski-jump occurred on May 6, 2010.
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