PLA 4th-Generation Fighters — Sukhoi / Shenyang


Sukhoi Su-35 ‘Flanker-E’
Sukhoi Su-30MKK ‘Flanker-G’
Sukhoi Su-27SK/UBK & Shenyang J-11 ‘Flanker-B/C’
Shenyang J-16
Shenyang J-15
Shenyang J-11B

SUKHOI SU-35 ‘FLANKER-E’

Type: Multirole fighter. Designer: Sukhoi Company. Manufacturer: Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO). First flight: 19 February 2008. Introduction: December 2017. No. in service: 24 ordered. Crew: 1. Length (m): 21.9. Wingspan (m): 15.3. Height (m): 5.9. Empty weight (kg): 18,400. Loaded weight (kg): 25,300. Max take-off weight (kg): 34,500. Internal fuel capacity (kg): 11,500. Max level speed (Mach): 1.15 (sea-level), 2.25 (at altitude). Max climb rate (m/s): >280. Service ceiling (m): 18,000. Ferry range (km): 4,500. Combat radius (km): N/A. Max g-load: +9.

The Sukhoi Su-35 ‘Flanker-E’ is described by its designer as a 4++ generation fighter that can bridge the gap between legacy fighters and the upcoming fifth-generation fighter. It can trace its origin to the Su-27M introduced in the late 1980s, and has since then been substantially upgraded and redesigned, incorporating a reinforced airframe, improved avionics and radar, thrust-vectoring engines, and a reduced frontal radar signature. China signed a $2 billion contract with Russia in November 2015 for the acquisition of 24 examples of the Su-35, following more than five years of negotiations. The delivery of these fighters commenced in December 2016 and is expected to complete by early 2018.

  • Configuration: Single-seat, twin-engine
  • Aerodynamic layout: Mid-mounted and semi-delta wings with square tips. The leading-edge extension (LERX) extends downward and forward of the wing roots, with two rectangular air intakes underneath the fuselage and a large tail boom. The tail fins are swept-back, tapered with square tips, and mounted outboard of the engines. The horizontal stabilisers are mid-mounted, swept-back, and tapered. The nose is pointed with a bubble canopy.
  • Fixed weapon: 1x 30-mm GSh-301 internal cannon with 150 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 12 (2 tandem under the fuselage centreline; 2 under the air ducts; 6 under the wings; 2 on the wingtips) for 8,000 kg ordnance
  • AAM:
    • Vympel R-73E/M (AA-11) SRAAM, IR-homing, 30 km range
    • Vympel R-27R/ER/T/ET (AA-10) MRAAM, semi-active radar-homing, 80—130 km range
    • Vympel R-77 (AA-12) MRAAM, active radar-homing, 80—110 km range
  • Ground strike:
    • Kh-29T/L, TV/semi-active laser-homing, 10—12 km range
    • Kh-31A, inertial+active radar-homing, 103 km range
    • Kh-31P,  inertial+passive radar-homing (anti-radiation), 110 km range
    • Kh-59M/E, inertial+TV-homing, 115—200 km range
    • KAB-500L, laser guidance
    • KAB-1500L, laser guidance
  • Sensors:
    • Irbis-E passive phased array radar
    • OLS-35 infra-red search and track (IRST) system
  • Avionics:
    • L265 Khibiny-M electronic warfare pod
  • Propulsion:
    • 2x Saturn 117S (AL-41F1S) turbofan engine, each rate at 86.3 kN (8,800 kgf, 19,400 lbf) dry and 142 kN (14,500 kgf, 31,900 lbf) with afterburning
    • 3D thrust vectoring nozzles
    • Retractable in-flight refuelling probe

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SUKHOI SU-30MKK ‘FLANKER-G’

Type: Multirole fighter. Designer: Sukhoi Company. Manufacturer: Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO). First flight: 1999. Introduction: December 2000. No. in service: 100. Crew: 2. Length (m): 21.9. Wingspan (m): 14.7. Height (m): 6.36. Empty weight (kg): N/A. Loaded weight (kg): 24,900. Max take-off weight (kg): 34,500. Internal fuel capacity (kg): 9,400. Max level speed (Mach): 2 (at altitude). Max climb rate (m/s): >305. Service ceiling (m): 17,300. Ferry range (km): 3,000, or 4,500 (with 1 refuelling), or 8,000 (with 2 refuellings). Combat radius (km): N/A. Max g-load: +9.

The Su-30 (‘Flanker-G’) is the first ‘true’ multirole fighter in the Sukhoi Su-27 ‘Flanker’ family. The Su-30MK was introduced specifically for the export market in 1994. Negotiations between China and Russia over the purchase of the Su-30MK began in 1996. Sukhoi Design Bureau began to develop the Su-30MKK (Modernizirovannyi Kommercheskiy Kitayski = “Modernised Commercial for China”) variant in 1997, with KnAAPO chosen as the primary contractor to build the aircraft. The US$2 billion contract for 38 examples of the Su-30MKK was officially signed in August 1999 and the aircraft was delivered to China in 2000—01. This was followed by the second batch of 38 examples in 2001, with the aircraft delivered in 2003. All 76 examples have been operated by the PLAAF. In January 2003, China ordered the third batch of 24 examples in the improved Su-30MKK2 variant, which has been tailored to meet the requirements of the PLANAF.

  • Configuration: Two-seat, twin-engine
  • Aerodynamic layout: Mid-mounted and semi-delta wings with square tips. The leading-edge extension (LERX) extends downward and forward of the wing roots, with two rectangular air intakes underneath the fuselage and a large tail boom. The tail fins are swept-back, tapered with square tips, and mounted outboard of the engines. The horizontal stabilisers are mid-mounted, swept-back, and tapered. The nose is pointed with a bubble canopy.
  • Fixed weapon: 1x 30-mm GSh-301 internal cannon with 150 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 12 (2 tandem under the fuselage centreline; 2 under the air ducts; 6 under the wings; 2 on the wingtips)
  • AAM:
    • Vympel R-73E/M (AA-11) SRAAM, IR-homing, 30 km range
    • Vympel R-27R/ER/T/ET (AA-10) MRAAM, semi-active radar-homing, 80—130 km range
    • Vympel R-77 (AA-12) MRAAM, active radar-homing, 80—110 km range
  • Ground strike:
    • Kh-29T/L, TV/semi-active laser-homing, 10—12 km range
    • Kh-31A, inertial+active radar-homing, 103 km range
    • Kh-31P,  inertial+passive radar-homing (anti-radiation), 110 km range
    • Kh-59M/E, inertial+TV-homing, 115—200 km range
    • KAB-500L, laser guidance
    • KAB-1500L, laser guidance
  • Sensors:
    • NIIP N001VEP pulse-Doppler fire-control radar
    • OEPS-31E-MK electro-optic system
  • Avionics:
    • Gardeniya ECM pods (on wingtips)
    • UOMZ Sapsan-E forward-looking infrared/laser targeting pod
    • M400 reconnaissance suite
  • Propulsion:
    • 2x Lyulka-Saturn AL-31F turbofan engine, each rate at 75.22 kN (7,670 kgf, 16,910 lbf) dry and 122.6 kN (12,500 kgf, 27,560 lbf) with afterburning
    • Fixed nozzles
    • Retractable in-flight refuelling probe

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SUKHOI SU-27SK/UBK & SHENYANG J-11 ‘FLANKER-B/C’

Type: Air-superiority fighter. Designer: Sukhoi Company. Manufacturer: Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO)(Su-27SK), Irkutsk Aircraft Production Association (IAPO)(Su-27UBK), Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC)(J-11). First flight: 1981 (Su-27S), 1985 (Su-27UB). Introduction: 1992. No. in service: 176. Crew: 1 (Su-27SK/J-11), 2 (Su-27UBK). Length (m): 21.9. Wingspan (m): 14.7. Height (m): 5.92 (Su-27SK/J-11), 6.30 (Su-27UBK). Empty weight (kg): 16,380. Loaded weight (kg): 23,430. Max take-off weight (kg): 30,450. Internal fuel capacity (kg): 9,400. Max level speed (Mach): 1.13 (sea-level), 2.35 (at altitude). Max climb rate (m/s): 300. Service ceiling (m): 19,000. Ferry range (km): 3,530. Combat radius (km): N/A. Max g-load: +9.

The Su-27 (‘Flanker’) is the front-line fighter designed by Sukhoi Design Bureau in the late 1970s as a counter to the U.S. 4th-generation air-superiority fighters such as F-14 and F-15. It is also the first modern combat aircraft introduced into the PLAAF service. High-level negotiations between Beijing and Moscow over a possible fighter deal began in 1990 and led to the order for 20 single-seat Su-27SK (‘Flanker-B’) fighters and 6 two-seat Su-27UBK (Flanker-C) fighter-trainers. The delivery of these aircraft was completed by 1992. This was followed by the second batch of 22 examples (16 Su-27SKs and 6 Su-27UBKs) in 1995 in a deal worth about US$710 million. In 1996, Sukhoi and SAC entered into a contract worth US$2.5 billion for the licensed production of 200 Su-27SKs using Sukhoi/KnAAPO-supplied kits. The production of the Chinese-assembled Su-27SK, under the designation of J-11, began in 2000. The production stopped in 2003 after about 100 examples had been produced. In 1999, China placed the order for the third batch of 28 examples, all in the Su-27UBK fighter-trainer variant, and received these aircraft in 2002.

  • Configuration: Single- or two-seat, twin-engine
  • Aerodynamic layout: Mid-mounted and semi-delta wings with square tips. The leading-edge extension (LERX) extends downward and forward of the wing roots, with two rectangular air intakes underneath the fuselage and a large tail boom. The tail fins are swept-back, tapered with square tips, and mounted outboard of the engines. The horizontal stabilisers are mid-mounted, swept-back, and tapered. The nose is pointed with a bubble canopy.
  • Fixed weapon: 1x 30-mm GSh-301 internal cannon with 150 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 10 (2 tandem under the fuselage centreline; 2 under the air ducts; 4 under the wings; 2 on the wingtips), 4,430 kg weapon load
  • AAM:
    • Vympel R-73E/M (AA-11) SRAAM, IR-homing, 30 km range
    • Vympel R-27R/ER/T/ET (AA-10) MRAAM, semi-active radar-homing, 80—130 km range
  • Ground strike:
    • FAB-500/RBK-500 500-kg freefall bomb
    • FAB-250 250-kg freefall bomb
    • B-8MI/B-13L/S-25 rocket pods
  • Sensors:
    • NIIP N001E pulse-Doppler fire-control radar
    • OEPS-27 electro-optic system (OLS-27 IRST and laser rangefinder)
  • Avionics:
    • RLPK-27 helmet-mounted sight (HMS)
    • SEI-31 integrated indication system
    • ILS-31 head-up display (HUD) and CRT
    • SPO-15 Beryoza RWR
    • APP-50 IR decoy dispenser
    • Sorbtsiya active jamming ECM pods (on wingtips)
  • Propulsion:
    • 2x Lyulka-Saturn AL-31F turbofan engine, each rate at 75.22 kN (7,670 kgf, 16,910 lbf) dry and 122.6 kN (12,500 kgf, 27,560 lbf) with afterburning
    • Fixed nozzles
    • No in-flight refuelling capability

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SHENYANG J-16

Type: Multirole fighter. Designer: Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute (601 Institute). Manufacturer: Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC). First flight: 2011? Introduction: N/A. No. in service: N/A. Crew: 2. Length (m): N/A. Wingspan (m): N/A. Height (m): N/A. Empty weight (kg): N/A. Loaded weight (kg): N/A. Max take-off weight (kg): N/A. Internal fuel capacity (kg): N/A. Max level speed (Mach): N/A. Max climb rate (m/s): N/A. Service ceiling (m): N/A. Ferry range (km): N/A. Combat radius (km): N/A. Max g-load: +9.

The J-16 is the multirole fighter developed from the two-seat J-11BS airframe, and is regarded as a modernised version of the Su-30MKK (‘Flanker-G’). The development began in 2010 and the aircraft reportedly made its maiden flight in late 2011. The aircraft may have entered the service with the PLAAF in 2014. The J-16 imitates many features of the Su-30MKK, including a two-seat arrangement and a retractable in-flight refuelling probe. The aircraft is equipped with Chinese indigenous avionics and weapon systems, including an AESA fire-control radar, improved glass cockpits, and ECM suite.

  • Configuration: Two-seat, twin-engine
  • Aerodynamic layout: Mid-mounted and semi-delta wings with square tips. The leading-edge extension (LERX) extends downward and forward of the wing roots, with two rectangular air intakes underneath the fuselage and a large tail boom. The tail fins are swept-back, tapered with square tips, and mounted outboard of the engines. The horizontal stabilisers are mid-mounted, swept-back, and tapered. The nose is pointed with a bubble canopy.
  • Fixed weapon: 1x Chinese indigenous 30-mm internal cannon with 150 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 12 (2 tandem under the fuselage centreline; 2 under the air ducts; 6 under the wings; 2 on the wingtips)
  • AAM:
    • PL-8 SRAAM, IR-homing, 20 km range
    • PL-10 SRAAM, IIR-homing, 20 km range
    • PL-12 MRAAM, active radar-homing, 70—100 km range
    • PL-15 LRAAM, active radar-homing, >200 km range
  • Ground strike:
    • YJ-83K anti-ship missile, active radar-homing, 180 km range
    • KD-88 air-launched cruise missile, TV/IIR-homing, 180—200 km range
    • YJ-91 anti-radiation missile, 120 km range
    • 250-kg Laser-guided bombs
    • 250-kg low-drag general-purpose bombs
    • 90-mm unguided rocket pods
  • Sensors:
    • Chinese indigenous AESA fire-control radar
    • Chinese indigenous electro-optic system (IRST and laser rangefinder)
  • Avionics:
    • Chinese indigenous missile approach warning (MAW) receivers
    • Indigenous digital flight-control system
  • Propulsion:
    • 2x Lyulka-Saturn AL-31F turbofan engine, each rate at 75.22 kN (7,670 kgf, 16,910 lbf) dry and 122.6 kN (12,500 kgf, 27,560 lbf) with afterburning
    • Fixed nozzles
    • Retractable in-flight refuelling probe

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SHENYANG J-15

Type: Carrier-based multirole fighter. Designer: Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute (601 Institute). Manufacturer: Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC). First flight: 2009. Introduction: 2012. No. in service: N/A. Crew: 1 (J-15), 2 (J-15S). Length (m): N/A. Wingspan (m): N/A. Height (m): N/A. Empty weight (kg): N/A. Loaded weight (kg): N/A. Max take-off weight (kg): N/A. Internal fuel capacity (kg): N/A. Max level speed (Mach): N/A. Max climb rate (m/s): N/A. Service ceiling (m): N/A. Ferry range (km): N/A. Combat radius (km): N/A. Max g-load: +9.

The J-15 is a carrier-based multirole fighter developed for the PLA Navy, largely based on the J-11 but with features of the Sukhoi Su-33 (‘Flanker-D’), including the additional pair of forward canards to reduce the take-off distance and improve manoeuvrability, power-aided folding wings and horizontal tailfins, strengthened landing gears with twin nose wheels, an arresting hook, and a shortened tail boom. China initially attempted to purchase two Su-33s for US$100 million from Russia in 2006 for evaluation and training, and possibly reverse-engineering. After the negotiations broke down, China instead acquired an example of the Su-33 prototype (T-10K) from Ukraine. The aircraft was studied extensively by Chinese engineers for the design and development of the country’s own carrier-based fighter.

The J-15 made its maiden flight in August 2009 and the first take-off from a land-based ski-jump took place in May 2010. In August 2012, the Chinese military announced that its pilots had successfully taken off and landed on its first aircraft carrier Liaoning (CV-16). The J-15 entered low-rate batch production in late 2013. The Air Wing of the Liaoning operates up to 24 J-15 fighters for both air interception and ground/surface strike roles. SAC is currently developing a two-seat fighter-trainer variant designated J-15S, with a single prototype undergoing flight tests since 2015. A new variant with modified and enhanced landing gears for CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) operations is also being tested.

  • Configuration: Single- or two-seat, twin-engine
  • Aerodynamic layout: Mid-mounted and semi-delta wings with square tips. The leading-edge extension (LERX) extends downward and forward of the wing roots, with two rectangular air intakes underneath the fuselage and a large tail boom. The tail fins are swept-back, tapered with square tips, and mounted outboard of the engines. The horizontal stabilisers are mid-mounted, swept-back, and tapered. The nose is pointed with a bubble canopy.
  • Fixed weapon: 1x Chinese indigenous 30-mm internal cannon with 150 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 10 (2 tandem under the fuselage centreline; 2 under the air ducts; 4 under the wings; 2 on the wingtips), 4,430 kg weapon load
  • AAM:
    • PL-8 SRAAM, IR-homing, 20 km range
    • PL-12 MRAAM, active radar-homing, 70—100 km range
  • Ground strike:
    • YJ-83K anti-ship missile, active radar-homing, 180 km range
    • KD-88 air-launched cruise missile, TV/IIR-homing, 180—200 km range
    • 250-kg Laser-guided bombs
    • 250-kg low-drag general-purpose bombs
    • 90-mm unguided rocket pods
  • Sensors:
    • Chinese indigenous pulse-Doppler fire-control radar, capable of tracking 6—8 targets and engaging with 4 of them simultaneously
    • Chinese indigenous (OEPS-27 copy) electro-optic system (IRST and laser rangefinder)
  • Avionics:
    • Chinese indigenous missile approach warning (MAW) receivers
    • Indigenous digital flight-control system
    • Strap-down INS/GPS navigation system
    • ‘Glass’ cockpit featuring 4 coloured multifunctional displays (MFD) and a wide-angle holographic head-up display (HUD)
  • Propulsion:
    • 2x Lyulka-Saturn AL-31F turbofan engine, each rate at 75.22 kN (7,670 kgf, 16,910 lbf) dry and 122.6 kN (12,500 kgf, 27,560 lbf) with afterburning
    • Fixed nozzles
    • No in-flight refuelling capability

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SHENYANG J-11B

Type: Air-superiority fighter. Designer: Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute (601 Institute). Manufacturer: Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC). First flight: 2002? Introduction: N/A. No. in service: N/A. Crew: 1 (J-11B), 2 (J-11BS). Length (m): 21.9. Wingspan (m): 14.7. Height (m): 5.92 (J-11B), 6.30 (J-11BS). Empty weight (kg): 16,380. Loaded weight (kg): 23,430. Max take-off weight (kg): 30,450. Internal fuel capacity (kg): 9,400. Max level speed (Mach): 1.13 (sea-level), 2.35 (at altitude). Max climb rate (m/s): 300. Service ceiling (m): 19,000. Ferry range (km): 3,530. Combat radius (km): N/A. Max g-load: +9.

Despite Sukhoi’s effort to promote its modernised Su-27SKM to China as a successor to the ageing Su-27/J-11, Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) unveiled in mid-2002 that it was developing a multirole fighter by incorporating the Su-27/J-11 airframe with Chinese-made avionics and weapon systems. SAC also stopped the licensed production of the basic variant J-11 using Russia-supplied kits in 2003, and began to build the J-11 airframes independently, possibly through reverse-engineering and without Russian consent. This programme led to the introduction of the J-11B in 2004.

The J-11B resembles the Su-27SK/J-11 (‘Flanker-B’) in appearance and is also powered by two Russian AL-31F engines, but is equipped with Chinese avionics and weapons. Later in 2007 SAC also introduced the two-seat fighter-trainer J-11BS, which appears to be a direct copy of the Su-27UBK (‘Flanker-C’). SAC has been seeking to replace the AL-31F engines on the J-11B with the indigenously developed WS-10 Taihang turbofan. However, poor reliability of the Chinese engines forced SAC to continue relying on Russian-made engines to power the J-11B. It appears that the technical issues with the WS-10 had been finally resolved by 2010, and later batches of the J-11B have been fitted with Chinese engines. A further developed variant J-11D equipped with an AESA radar is currently in development.

  • Configuration: Single- or two-seat, twin-engine
  • Aerodynamic layout: Mid-mounted and semi-delta wings with square tips. The leading-edge extension (LERX) extends downward and forward of the wing roots, with two rectangular air intakes underneath the fuselage and a large tail boom. The tail fins are swept-back, tapered with square tips, and mounted outboard of the engines. The horizontal stabilisers are mid-mounted, swept-back, and tapered. The nose is pointed with a bubble canopy.
  • Fixed weapon: 1x Chinese indigenous 30-mm internal cannon with 150 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 10 (2 tandem under the fuselage centreline; 2 under the air ducts; 4 under the wings; 2 on the wingtips), 4,430 kg weapon load
  • AAM:
    • PL-8 SRAAM, IR-homing, 20 km range
    • PL-12 MRAAM, active radar-homing, 70—100 km range
  • Ground strike:
    • 250-kg Laser-guided bombs
    • 250-kg low-drag general-purpose bombs
    • 90-mm unguided rocket pods
  • Sensors:
    • Chinese indigenous pulse-Doppler fire-control radar, capable of tracking 6—8 targets and engaging with 4 of them simultaneously
    • Chinese indigenous (OEPS-27 copy) electro-optic system (IRST and laser rangefinder)
  • Avionics:
    • Chinese indigenous missile approach warning (MAW) receivers
    • Indigenous digital flight-control system
    • Strap-down INS/GPS navigation system
    • ‘Glass’ cockpit featuring 4 coloured multifunctional displays (MFD) and a wide-angle holographic head-up display (HUD)
  • Propulsion:
    • 2x Lyulka-Saturn AL-31F turbofan engine, each rate at 75.22 kN (7,670 kgf, 16,910 lbf) dry and 122.6 kN (12,500 kgf, 27,560 lbf) with afterburning, or
    • 2x Liming WS-10 turbofan engine
    • Fixed nozzles
    • No in-flight refuelling capability

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