Monster Machines: China's J-15 Flying Sharks Are Actually Russian Knockoffs

China's J-15 Flying Sharks Are Actually Russian Knockoffs

No surprise here. Like some of China's other new planes, its new J-15 fighter jet is really just a clone of an older Russian design. But can a clone surpass its master copy? China hopes the answer is yes.

The J-15 Flying Shark is a derivative of the Russian SU-33, which entered service in the mid 1990s. However, the indigenous Chinese weapons platform is outfitted with domestically-produced sensory systems, weapons, and engines. It measures 22m long and 6m tall, with a 13m wingspan, and it's powered by a pair of 900kg after-burning turbofans, which reportedly give it a top speed of Mach 2.4 and a range of about 3200km.

The Flying Shark was first unveiled in 2010 and was met with immediate scepticism from military analysts around the world. While the debut of the J-15 was quite surprising in terms of its technological advancement and flight capability, analysts quickly realised that much of the plane's modern avionics were, more than likely, closely copied from existing American and Russian technology.

According to Colonel Igor Korotchenko (Ret.), a member of the Defence Ministry's Public Council, per the Ria Novosti newspaper, the J-15's highly-publicized landings on China's new Liaoning aircraft carrier were no fluke — given that the Su-33 had no problems doing so on Kuznetsov Class aircraft carriers upon which the Liaoning is based.

"The Chinese J-15 clone is unlikely to achieve the same performance characteristics of the Russian Su-33 carrier-based fighter," said Korotchenko. "And I do not rule out the possibility that China could return to negotiations with Russia on the purchase of a substantial batch of Su-33s."

China's spokesman of the Ministry of National Defence, Geng Yansheng, responded to these allegations in November of 2012, saying, "the world's military affairs have an objective law of development. Many weapons have the same design principle and some command and protection methods are also similar. Therefore, it at least is non-professional to conclude that China copied the aircraft carrier technology of other countries only by simply comparison." Nearly as unprofessional as shamelessly reverse engineering an ally's weapons systems, when negotiations for the real thing stall out.

The J-15 does sport a more modern avionics system than its Su-33 predecessor. However, the Flying Shark remains unproven in its abilities as a carrier-based multi-role fighter. Hopefully, we won't have to see how these stack up against the F-18 Hornet, America's closest analogue, anytime soon. [China Defence - Wikipedia - Policy Mic - People's Daily]


    So now they denying copying other nations gear? Their Blackhawk copy and various drones, and who knows what else, all a design fluke? Yeah right. It's how they have gotten themselves up with the other big players so quickly, espionage plain and simple, just like the Soviets after WW2.
    A few decades ago the educated Chinese were forced to work in the fields...

    Iteration on a design is the basis of all modern aircraft, military or otherwise. Current US aircraft are iterations on previous models, which back far enough were 'knockoffs' of British designs in several cases. China's aircraft designs evolved from Russian predecessors, that's neither surprising nor unusual.

    Last edited 07/01/14 6:30 pm

      It's just like the MiG-21/J-7, Su-27SM/J-11B sagas again.
      The Chinese can't really deny that they copied the Su-33 considering they'd gone and bought one of the prototypes of the Su-33 (T-10K-3)from the Ukrainian's during the early 00's and reverse-enginered the entire airframe and simply used Chinese versions of licensed produced engines to power it.

      It's also well known fact the Chinese will seek to license produce any technology that's just beyond them then a few short years later a copy "wholly designed in China" will appear.

      It's hard to change opinions after history has already defined you, like that time China copied a copied a C-17:

      Or that time they copied a BMW:

      Or... You could go for a fair while on things that are 'Chinese designed and built' that heavily borrow from designs created and pioneered at great R&D expense by other countries/companies which don't so much get a footnote citation.

      Last edited 07/01/14 8:03 pm

        There's no doubt they copy technology from other countries. The US and Russia do it too, though they're both better at hiding the fact these days - they've had a lot more experience with it thanks to the Cold War. But using a modified Su-33 chassis isn't really an unusual development for the Chinese, and if Sino-Russian relations were like Anglo-American relations leading into and following the World Wars, Russian engineers would be right in there helping them develop it too.

    so who would win? the US-JAP-South Korean fighters or these Chinese fighters???

      Well the U.S. is the only one with 5th generation fighters in service, the Japanese and South Korean fighters are more or less on par with this Chinese one.

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