Shenyang J-15

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PLAN Shenyang J-15 carrier-based fighter aircraft 20211221 - 3.jpg
Two J-15s from Liaoning
Role Carrier-based multirole fighter
National origin China
Manufacturer Shenyang Aircraft Corporation
First flight 31 August 2009[1]
Introduction 2013
Status In production[2]
Primary user People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force
Number built 50 as of 2019[2]

The Shenyang J-15 (Chinese: 歼-15), NATO reporting name: Flanker-X2, also known as Flying Shark (Chinese: 飞鲨; pinyin: Fēishā), is a Chinese all-weather, twinjet, carrier-based fourth-generation[3] multirole fighter aircraft developed by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) and the 601 Institute, specifically for the People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF) to serve on People's Liberation Army Navy's aircraft carriers.

An unfinished prototype Su-33, the T-10K-3,[4] was acquired by SAC from Ukraine in 2001 and was said to have been studied extensively and reverse-engineered, with development on the J-15 beginning immediately afterward.[1][4][5][6] While the J-15 appears to be structurally based on the prototype of Su-33, the fighter features indigenous Chinese technologies as well as avionics from the Shenyang J-11B program.[7] In February 2018, discussions about replacing the aircraft appeared in several Chinese media outlets including Xinhua and China's main military newspaper, discussing that it belongs to the 4th- or 4.5-generation fighters. Thus, the J-15 is viewed as an interim carrier-based fighter until a fifth-generation successor enters service, one that may be based on the Chengdu J-20 or Shenyang FC-31.


China has sought to purchase Su-33s from Russia on several occasions — an unsuccessful offer was made as late as March 2009[8] — but negotiations collapsed in 2006 after it was discovered that China had developed a modified version[9][10][11] of the Sukhoi Su-27SK, designated the Shenyang J-11B,[12][13] in violation of intellectual property agreements.[1] However, according to Chinese sources, the reason China withdrew from talks was that Russia wanted large payments to re-open Su-33 production lines and insisted on a Chinese purchase of at least 50 Su-33s, about which China was reluctant as it believed the aircraft would become outdated in a few years. China hence decided on an indigenous variant instead of continuing to assemble the J-11, the licensed Chinese version of Su-27. [14][15]

The J-15 program was officially started in 2006.[16] .The first J-15 prototype made its maiden flight on August 31, 2009, believed to be powered by Russian-supplied AL-31 turbofan engines.[7] Video and still images of the flight were released in July 2010, showing the same basic airframe design as the Su-33.[17]

On May 6, 2010, the aircraft conducted its first takeoff from a simulated ski-jump.[7]

On November 25, 2012, the aircraft successfully performed its first takeoff and landing on Liaoning,[18] China's first operational aircraft carrier.

The twin-seat variant, J-15D, made its maiden flight on November 4, 2012.[19]

In November 2020, Jane's reported that SAC had produced at least two prototypes of J-15 fighter aircraft modified for CATOBAR operations, a variant commonly referred to as the J-15T.[20]

In June 2022, the International Institute for Strategic Studies reported that China has worked on an upgraded variant of J-15 capable of launching newer PL-10 and PL-15 missiles.[21]


The belly of a J-15

An article in the China SignPost believes the J-15 "likely exceeds or matches the aerodynamic capabilities of virtually any fighter aircraft currently operated by regional militaries, with the exception of the U.S. F-22 Raptor", alleging that the J-15 likely possesses a 10% greater thrust-to-weight ratio and 25% lower wing loading than the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.[22][23] However, one of the authors of that same article described the J-15 in another article as no game changer; the reliance on ski-jump launches and lack of Chinese carrier-based aerial refueling capabilities are believed to greatly reduce its effective combat range.[24] In 2014, it was revealed that the J-15 is capable of aerial refueling, using the UPAZ-1 buddy refueling pod, which can be carried by another J-15.[25] Hu Siyuan of the PLA National Defense University said that "the current weak point of the J-15 is its Russian-made Al-31 engines, which are less powerful than that of the American F-35 fighter".[26]

The J-15's chief designer, Sun Cong of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, has said that the J-15 could match the F/A-18 in bomb load, combat radius and mobility. However, in a similar statement, he said more work was required on its electronics and combat systems.[27] Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo stated that the aircraft's air combat capabilities were better than that of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. However, he also stated that its ability to attack land and sea targets was slightly inferior to the F/A-18E/F; it is also stated that its electronic equipment meets the standards of those on a fifth-generation fighter.[28]

Operational history[edit]

A J-15 taking off from the Liaoning

On November 25, 2012, Chinese media announced that two J-15s had made successful arrested landings on the Liaoning aircraft carrier.[29][30][31] The first pilot to land on Liaoning was named as Dai Mingmeng (戴明盟).[32] Luo Yang, the aircraft's head of production and designer, died the same day.[33] PLA Daily newspaper indicated that the first five naval pilots (including Dai) conducted J-15 fighter landings and takeoffs. Test and training program officials confirmed the carrier-borne aircraft and special equipment for the landing flight had gone through strict tests, and fighter jets can be deployed on the carrier.[34]

In December 2013, Chinese media reported that mass production of J-15s in full operational condition with combat markings had begun.[35]

In January 2017, the carrier Liaoning, having returned to the South China Sea after its first deployment into the Western Pacific, conducted a series of take-off and landing drills with its squadron of embarked J-15 fighters.[36]

In July 2018, Lieutenant General Zhang Honghe of the PLAAF stated that China was developing a new carrier-based aircraft to replace the J-15 due to its three crashes and numerous technical problems. One problem with the aircraft is that it is the heaviest carrier-borne fighter in current operation anywhere, with an empty weight of 17,500 kg (38,600 lb) compared to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet's 14,600 kg (though it is less than the F-14 Tomcat's weight of 19,800 kg). Weight problems are compounded when operating off Liaoning, as its STOBAR launch and recovery method further limits payload capacity.[37][38]


  • In April 2016, a J-15 crashed into the ocean after experiencing a flight control system failure. The pilot, Cao Xianjian, ejected shortly before impact, below the altitude needed for the parachute to function; he was severely injured upon landing.[39]
  • On 27 April 2016, a J-15 crashed during a simulated landing when a flight control system malfunction caused the aircraft to pitch up to 80 degrees. The pilot, Zhang Chao, ejected below the altitude needed for the parachute to function; he died from injuries sustained upon landing.[40]
  • In July 2017,[41] a J-15 suffered a left engine fire after ingesting a bird shortly after takeoff. The pilot, Yuan Wei, with the aid of instructions from air traffic controllers, performed an emergency landing and ground crews extinguished the fire.[42]


  • J-15: Single-seat variant.[19]
  • J-15S: Two-seat variant, first flown in 2012.[19]
  • J-15D: Two-seat electronic attack variant with EW pods and other electronic equipment installed and IRST sensor removed.[19] Begun operational testing in December 2018.[43]
  • J-15T: CATOBAR variant.[20]


 People's Republic of China

Specifications (estimated)[edit]

Data from Military Factory : Shenyang J-15 (Flying Shark) - Development and Operational History, Performance Specifications and Picture Gallery[46][unreliable source?][47][48]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 or 2
  • Length: 22.28 m (73 ft 1 in)
  • Wingspan: 15.0 m (49 ft 3 in)
  • Width: 7.4 m (24 ft 3 in) wings folded
  • Height: 5.92 m (19 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 67.84 m2 (730.2 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 17,500 kg (38,581 lb)
  • Gross weight: 27,000 kg (59,525 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 32,500 kg (71,650 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Saturn AL-31[49] afterburning turbofans, 122.6 kN (27,600 lbf) thrust each


  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.4
  • Ferry range: 3,500 km (2,200 mi, 1,900 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 20,000 m (66,000 ft)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.93



  • Type 1493 radar[50]
    • J-15D and J-15B claimed to have AESA radar[51]
  • MIL-STD-1553B bi-directional data bus
  • glass cockpit
  • LCD screen
  • 4-redundant 3-axis fly by wire

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era


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External links[edit]