The People’s Liberation Army Navy has finally broken the silence about its new carrier-based jet fighter, the J-15. While outside observers have strongly suspected for several years that China intended to deploy the J-15 – an adaptation of the Russian Su-33 – aboard the PLAN’s first aircraft carrier Shi Lang, Chinese officials didn’t confirm it until last week.
Archived posts with tag ‘J-15’
Her new guns are installed. Her light-gray paint job has dried. Her airplanes are flying and her engines are turning. Thirteen years after she was purchased from Ukraine half-complete and lacking engines, the Chinese navy’s very first aircraft carrier is ready to set sail from Dalian shipyard in northeast China. The former Soviet carrier Varyag, renamed Shi Lang in Chinese service, could begin sea trials this summer.
After more than a decade of work, China’s first aircraft carrier is nearly ready for sea trials. The U.S. Navy, which maintains five supercarriers plus an equal number of big-deck assault ships in the Pacific, has reacted calmly. In April, Adm. Robert Willard, Pacific Command commander, said the Chinese carrier, reportedly named Shi Lang after a famed Chinese general, will pose a mostly symbolic threat, influencing perceptions more than it does the actual regional balance of power.
As noted by Douglas Paal here over the weekend, in recent weeks, the Chinese navy has taken big steps toward deploying its first aircraft carrier, underscoring the nation’s rapid ascent as a world power. Twelve years after Beijing purchased the incomplete Russian aircraft carrier Varyag, the 60,000-ton vessel — renamed Shi Lang — is reportedly on track to begin sea trials this summer. Shi Lang’s first planes are nearly ready, too. In late April, the first J-15 fighter, an unlicensed copy of the Russian Su-33, appeared in navy colors.
The Chinese aviation industry has begun testing a short-takeoff, vertical-landing naval fighter optimized for small aircraft carriers, according to English-language military trade publications. The reports last week cited rumors circulated by Chinese aviation blogs. “It is difficult to substantiate Internet chatter,” U.S.-based Defense News cautioned.