A number of recent reports in Chinese state-run media indicate that the country’s carrier-based J-15 multirole fighter jets have entered mass production.
The Shenyang J-15 (also called Flying Shark) is China’s carrier-based fighter aircraft. It was reversed engineered from a Russian Sukhoi Su-33 that China acquired from Ukraine, although it reportedly is equipped with some indigenous weapons, avionics and other features that Beijing claims greatly enhances its capabilities. The J-15 is also powered by the Chinese-built Taihang (WS-10) turbofan engine.
A J-15 prototype conducted its first flight test in August 2009. In November last year it was announced that a PLA Air Force (PLAAF) pilot conducted the first take-off and landing from China’s aircraft carrier,Liaoning, using one of the J-15 tester jets. Throughout 2013 the PLAAF has continued holding take-off and landing exercises using the J-15 aircraft.
The People’s Daily Online carried a couple of reports this week on the J-15. Most of them begin by noting that “many keen military observers” have noted that the J-15s that have appeared on CCTV as of late have been painted gray with a People’s Republic of China flag on them, in contrast to the initial five J-15s that were painted yellow and were therefore marked as being intended solely for testing and development. The reports then note that the new paint job has led these “keen military observers” to speculate that the J-15 fighters have entered mass production.
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