Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Recently, we got some new photos of J-15S coming out, which is always exciting. J-15S is the twin-seated version of China's naval flanker J-15. Its prototype flirst flew from SAC airfield on November 2012. All of the J-15S photos we've seen so far have shown Taihang engines powering the aircraft. That would suggest J-15S will be powered by Taihang right from the time it enters service and that the single seated J-15 could be powered by Taihang after the first batch.

We know that J-11BS entered service relatively soon after J-11B entered service after a relatively short flight testing program of around 2 years. It probably could've been even shorter if not for the problems with Taihang engine at the time. We saw very few photos of J-11BS in flight testing. In comparison, it seems to me that J-15S will be having a longer flight testing program, although not as long as would be expected out of a new variant like J-11B or J-16.

Going forward, I think it is likely that J-15S would be used in more roles than just as twin-seated trainer. First of all, J-15S could be developed in navy's version of J-16. The J-15 airframe should already be strengthened to handle the punishment of taking off and landing on a carrier, so J-15S may not need too much additional work to handle the additional payload expected out of a strike fighter. J-15S would not have the range or payload of J-16 due to restrictions of taking off from a STOBAR carrier, but it could be installed with similar avionics and combat system for strike missions as J-16. It will be able to carry different types of anti-ship missiles, anti-radiation missile and ground attack munitions/missiles that can be launched by the pilot in the WSO seat. Having the second pilot should make J-15S a more effective strike aircraft than J-15. Aside from just anti-shipping missions and ground attack missions, it could also be fitted with the subsystems for SEAD missions and EW warfare. When Su-30MK2 came out, there was a lot of talk about its usage as a "mini-AWACS". While that is a little overblown and CV-16 will already have several Ka-31 and Z-18 AEW helicopters, J-15S can certainly be equipped with the necessary avionics to process data from a group of J-15s and direct their actions.

In summary, J-15S will be a very useful naval aircraft for China's burgeoning naval air arm. It will likely have many use beyond that of a trainer.


willytan1 said...

Great write up on the J-15S Feng.

The engine that will be used on the J-15 would be the WS-10H.

The Al-31F will most definitely not equip any Chinese made Flanker derivatives (J-11B, J-15 & J-16) as the Russians will not allow its use on what it calls a Chinese copy of the Flanker.

The J-11B, J-15 and J-16 will have to rely exclusively on the WS-10A/H.

Feng said...

except that most of the J-15s we've seen so far and a full regiment of J-11B are definitely using AL-31F.

willytan1 said...

You are indeed right Feng. The early model J-11B and test prototypes of J-15 are using the AL-31F.

There is however an interesting thing that happened following a Rosoboronexport investigation.
In 2009 Rosoboronexport decide to launch a joint investigation together with Sukhoi Corp into the issue of unlicensed production
of the J-11B. Rosoboronexport then held some meetings in 2010 with Chinese authorities about the J-11B and other copyright infringement issues in relation to other military equipment.

Around 2010, the Chinese suddenly announced that a new batch of "Block 02" J-11B's would be produced which will exclusively use the WS-10A turbofan. The Chinese also claimed that the
WS-10A has now overcome all quality control and reliability issues and the engine will now be used in all new J-11B's from here on.

I find it interesting and not just mere coincidence that the meeting with the Russians has resulted in China moving ahead to produce a fully indigenous version of the J-11B.

The Russians have also voiced concerns about the J-15 and its similarity to the SU-33.

The Russians however have no issues with the use of the AL-31F engine on the F-10 and J-20 as these are indigenous Chinese designs.

Anonymous said...

Feng, how many J-15S do you think will be built?