Type: Carrier-based multirole fighter Designer: AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute (601 Institute) Manufacturer: AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Industry Corporation (SAC) First flight: 2009 Introduction: 2012 Operators: PLA Navy (24) Crew: 1 (J-15), 2 (J-15S) In-flight refuelling: Yes (retractable probe)
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.