This post was published in Russian 7. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.
MOSCOW, (BM) – The Americans are watching with interests as the new Chinese J-16 attack fighters in large quantities enter the combat aircraft of the Celestial Empire. In addition, these machines have significant potential for further improvement.
Let’s say more: J-16 technological developments helped Shenyang Aircraft Corporation to create the fifth-generation fighter Chengdu J-20 “Black Eagle”. Meanwhile, the J-16 is a modification – albeit revolutionary – of the Russian Su-27, and the contract for its sale did not allow any changes.
The J-16 twin-engine all-weather fighter was developed by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation for the Air Force of the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA). This machine, according to many experts, is the most famous revolutionary modification of a foreign glider today.
Nobody in the world has yet been able to implement changes in the size of another’s plane similar in volume and quality. Recall that the Chinese bought this “drying” in the 90s of the last century and produced it under license, having built a number of specialized factories in their country for this.
Naum Semenovich Chernyakov, chief designer of the Su-27, awarded his brainchild with excellent maneuverability, which still provides the aircraft with advanced capabilities in air battles. Although the machine was created as a 4th generation fighter, however, the introduction of new technologies by the Chinese into it made it possible to classify the J-16 as a 4 ++ class.
In addition, the deployment of guided missiles and bombs on the J-16 dramatically increased the power of his strikes, both on land and on naval targets. And this in turn made the J-16 the most formidable PLA aviation asset for many decades to come.
In fact, the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation developed the first strike fighter in China, while the predecessors J-11B and J-8II were designed exclusively for the defense of mainland China.
Stamped like sneakers
According to Western reports, in 2018 the PLA aviation receives incredible amounts of J-16 fighter jets. The exact numbers are not known, but something still seeps into the public sphere.
Conclusions about the high-speed assembly line of these machines are made from an analysis of the side numbers of individual aircraft, whose photographs are published by the official media of China. The J-16 fighter is a competitor to the expensive US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle and SU-34 Infernal Duckling of the Russian Air Force, although it stands out for its unique design.
However, neither we nor the Americans manage to “rivet” 4 ++ strike fighters at such a frantic pace. In any case, overseas experts say so. Note that in its characteristics the J-16 is superior to the “American” F-15C Eagle and the “Russian” Su-30. In particular, the “Chinese” is capable of immediately tracking 6-8 targets, and is equipped with smart air-to-air missiles PL-15 with a range of over 150 km.
And this is much more dangerous than what the AIM-120C missiles and the American F-15C Eagle radars are capable of. And our R-27 missile, mounted on the Su-30, does not hit so far, up to a maximum of 110 km.
EW Americans studied electronic warfare (EW), mounted on a J-16 fighter, and came to a sad conclusion for themselves. It turns out that this “Chinese” is able to carry out “electronic” attacks at the level of a specialized carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft of the US Navy Boeing EA-18 Growler.
Since EW funds have significant capabilities (not without reason leading countries invest huge amounts of money in these weapons), the J-16 has become one of the most formidable platforms in the world for electronic warfare in the air.
By the way, these systems were developed for the 5th generation fighter Chengdu J-20 “Black Eagle”. So the fighter J-16 has the technologies that are characteristic of next-generation aircraft.
Synergy of opportunity
Apparently, the Chinese are very pleased with the J-16 fighter. They received a maneuverable, attacking aircraft with a robust electronic warfare system, which was also not very expensive. Now Beijing has squared its shoulders and is crowding Washington from the South China Sea.
Plus, the Pentagon with great apprehension looks at the future capabilities of military aviation in the Middle Kingdom. In order to level out the strength of J-16 strike fighters, the Yankees must have a significant number of 5th-generation F-22 and F-35 aircraft in the Pacific.
However, US capacities and finances do not allow stamping these high-tech machines at such a pace as the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation does.
Unauthorized alterations of the Su-27 Meanwhile, in the late 80s, the PLA air forces had a fleet of weak fighters J-5, J-6 and J-7. The lag from the States was estimated at tens of years and seemed unattainable.
Then the Chinese pilots could become easy prey for American pilots, if a conflict between the United States and China occurred suddenly. On the one hand, the specialists of the Shenyang Aircraft Building Corporation, having received the Su-27 contract, made unauthorized changes to our “drying”, on the other hand, becoming the main customer in the 90s, they actually saved the defense aviation industry of Russia, which was dying without money.
In addition, it must be remembered that these characteristics are not always confirmed in combat conditions. This fully applies to the system of training and motivation of pilots. By the way, the Germans during the 2nd World War had the best fighters for that time, but the battle for heaven, however, was lost to Soviet pilots.
In conclusion, the Chinese author notes that the purchase of the Su-27 and the subsequent work under the “Project 11” were of great importance to the PLA air force. As of the late 1980s, the Chinese Air Force had antediluvian and small numbers, and only thanks to these purchases began to turn into a real force, subsequently making a powerful technological breakthrough.
Note that, despite the gigantic scale of technology transfer and unauthorized transfer of technology to China, these projects were a prerequisite for the survival of the Russian aviation industry in the 1990s and early 2000s.
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