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China’s J-15 goes to sea

written by WOFA | November 26, 2012


Chinese media has shown footage of the J-15 fighter successfully landing on and taking off from the nation’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

“Capabilities of the carrier platform and the J-15 have been tested, meeting all requirements and achieving good compatibility,” the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

The J-15, evidentally based on the Sukhoi Su-33, is the first Chinese built fighter to land on an aircraft carrier deck.

The J-15 lands on the Liaoning


  • B. Harrison


    If Australians think that the Chinese are doing this (acquiring aircraft carriers and the aircraft to launch from them) because they have nothing better to do, than think again. Whether we like it or not, the Americans will expect us to cover their S/W flank in the Pacific with more than 3 Air Warfare Destroyers a few conventional submarines and a hundred F35’s. Start getting your heads around it people, things are about to change big time.

  • Brett + Pete


    Nice reverse-engineering of an su-27, good work china, very original.

  • Anon


    Long way from an Su-27… Much closer to an Su-33

  • Grumpyoldfart


    Be worried, extremely worried, especially when our government is cutting back on Defence expenditure.

  • Harvie


    We have a large amount of resource rich territory to defend both on and off shore. The Chinese are methodically building their military capability. At the same time we are reducing our military expenditure and capability. This is most concerning. Don’t we learn from history?

  • Raymond


    @Grumpyoldfart – Yes, and why is the Government cutting back on ADF expenditure? Because they need to balance the budget. Why are they having such a hard time balancing the budget? Because a certain political party cannot, and has been historically unable, to ever manage money. A fat surplus has been turned into rolling deficits, total Government debt is the highest ever, and wasting money on ridiculous schemes now means that there is none for the important things that really matter.

  • Raymond


    And our military expenditure is now the lowest as a percentage of GDP since 1938. Guess what started one year later?

  • Ben


    They need a lot more than one carrier folks. Unlike 1938, relationships in the East Asia region are quite good.

    Interesting operation which raises the question as to whether we could run the conventional F35 from our new LHD’s.

  • Andrew


    China is already embarking on an expansionist agenda in the South China Sea (Western Philippines Sea). It is laying claim to a number of Islands that belong to the Philippines while at the same time time berating Japan over the Japanese territorial claim to islands in the East China Sea.

    What is at the root of all this expansionism – natural gas – which China needs to power its industry.

    The acquisition of an aircraft carrier totally alters the balance of power in the Northern Pacific. The yanks are already responding by moving back into the Philippines. (looks like they will soon move back into Subic Bay).

    Australia needs to be concerned with events closer to home. Look carefully at the closer relationship that is developing between China and PNG.

  • Allan


    Very interesting, However one shiny new carrier and a couple of test aircraft does not an effective carrier make. It will take the chinese navy years of training to develop the capability further. No one can just enter the big league of carrier ops without a lot of pain and heartache behind them. a lot of experience is written in blood when it comes to naval aviation. Will watch with interest.

  • Andy


    China are now another step closer as a global super power. While many other nations around the world are cutting back on miltary spending and have significant miltary capabilty gaps. China will soon be able to flex their miltary force in international waters, legally. Other nations like Australia and the UK who do not have an effective response in terms of aircraft carrier capabilty will have to watch from the shore or rely on the support from allies. We will watch with interest.

  • Mike


    As China already has unlimited access to all of the coal and LPG they require from within Australia, I would have thought they would be more interested in using their assets to protect Australia than to attack us. The only reason China would have to be aggressive towards us is the hawkish attitude of the militarists among us.

  • BH


    I agree with @Allen and @Ben.
    It will take more than one carrier to have an impact in the short term. Establishing a viable and effective naval aviation capability takes a lot of time and resources. There is also the task of protecting a carrier battle group.. The Falklands War saw the Argies carrier stay in port for fear of the British subs.. While China does have a growing sub fleet, they themselves will take a long time to catch up to the capabilities that the west possess in those areas..
    As for running our future conventional F35s off the LHDs, platform size, the complexity of arrestor systems and the training required for carrier landings will probably be out of our budget range for a long time.. The UK even backed out of going down that path again…

  • David Bentley


    I understand the military capability aspect of this but the Cold War is over. China has far more to lose by becoming an international pariah. Their economy is built on the consumption of the rest of the world and they have more than enough internal concerns to become aggressively expansionist. And I agree with others regarding the timeline for developing capability. They have not been able to develop an indigenous engine for their combat aircraft and are still using Russian units. Their commercial aircraft ventures are also floundering. In the end, the biggest thing that will keep the peace is simple economics. The world is interconnected in a way never experienced before and it cannot be unraveled.

  • Raymond


    Absolutely, it will be many years before the PRC will be anywhere near the capability of the West, in particular the US. However, as it’s been said, they are now another step closer. One of the main issues here is that they are opaque as to their intentions and even their military expenditure.
    I’m afraid this is smelling of 1930’s Japan all over again and the securing of natural resources. And never forget that the PRC is still a Communist country! I disagree in part that ‘relationships in the East Asia region are quite good’: on the surface, yes; but there’s a lot of posturing behind the scenes and not-so-behind-the-scenes as well – just follow what’s happening in the South China Sea and how events there are ramping up, an always-present potential PRC vs. Taiwan conflict, and tensions with Japan.

  • Air Observer


    i wouldn’t trade china’s problems for… well, all the tea in china. If you were lucky enough to see it before and after the web hit you would know what i mean. pre-internet, boiler suits and red books everywhere… post-internet, david beckham/american idol wannabes, young couples pashing on street corners (ten years before, that got you arrested if you were chinese!) and a growing nation of people yearning to tweet on blackberries in gap cargo pants. it is changing! talking about a none enemy as a future one creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. as for china? they are along with uk, russia, france and usa, the five permanent members of the UN and the five largest arms dealers. i fear it is the other way around… they appear on the surface to not get along, while remaining kissing cousins behind closed doors!
    “It aint what we dont know that gets us into trouble. Its what we know for sure that just aint so”.
    As for the su33alike? I wouldnt strap on that lump of iron for quids. for australia to buy that smoker, it would cost more than the raptor in upgrades before the Raaf would touch it. i served a few decades back and we (the adf) were like the australian forcds on the eve of wwii! fielding defunct crap that should have served as props on full metal jacket. we had our pants down. at present we are making far wiser decisions and are undoubtedly a more balanced, prepared and capable force than at any point in our proud history!
    sorry for the rant!
    back to flying the old mahogany bomber.
    cheers all

  • Michael


    @Ben and BH: The LHD would probably be able to operate the F-35B; it has a ski-jump and similar flight deck size to the Spanish carrier SPS Principe de Asturias, which operates AV-8s. The F-35As that we have ordered are not capable of carrier operations, but I think it would be a good idea to convert the last squadron or so to F-35B. Those LHDs are going to be awfully attractive – to hostile aircraft!

  • Andy


    @Michael. The F35B would not only provide the carrier capabailty but also the flexibilty of operating an aircraft form semi prepared airfileds as per Harrier operations. The carrier option allows the operation in international waters where permission is not required to station aircraft in foriegn countries. While China may not have the technology it could make up for in numbers considerings its large manufacturing base. Time will tell.

  • Paul


    Some interesting landings with no afterburner/ nozzles closed. Pilots must be super confident.

  • BH


    @Michael.. You’re right, the LHDs are easily capable of operating the F35B model, Navantia designed them that way from the outset. However as a lot of other more highly qualified critics have said, operating jets from these LHDs will restrict the capacity of the ship to operate in its intended use as a transport ie take up a lot of hangar & deck space, and drain the limited supply of aviation fuel etc.
    I certainly agree that having that capability would be a massive advantage, however the extra cost of buying the more expensive model, maintaining the more complex lift fan etc, the extra training req’d as well as ship modifications aren’t justifiable for a force as small as the ADF…
    As for China, if they don’t already know their place in world when it comes to trade etc, they soon will. Their economy is dependant on the rest of the world, so why risk doing anything stupid..

  • Neil P


    You’re close guys, but the LHD is actually designed for F35B operations and you would be suprised at how little deck space a handfull of them takes up. Carrying an embarked squadron would mean specific tasking…just another job for the LHD. It certainly wouldnt detract from other roles or taskings. Plenty of space for fixed/rotary/light mech all at the same time.

  • John N


    I’ve been sitting here quietly for the last few days reading the comments, I think it’s time for a reality check people.

    When are people going to get it? Australia got out of the carrier business 30 years ago and we ain’t going back!

    There is as much chance of the RAN purchasing and operating F35B’s as it is for the RAAF to go and dig up the F-111’s from the dump and put them back into service! It just isn’t going to happen.

    Where is the political will of the Government or the opposition? Where are the Billions of dollars going to come from? Where is the strategic requirement for Australia to operate a carrier air wing again?

    Please explain to me in what situation Australia is going to send the LHD’s into that require combat air support without being part of a “coalition” operation with the US?

    The only time you might see an F35B on the decks of the LHD’s would be during a combined exercise with the USN, and even then it would probably only be if an F35B needed somewhere to land quickly or for a “photo” opportunity.

    It’s going to take years, a lot of time, money and effort to bring the LHD’s up to full capability for the role they were “designed and intended” for (eg, being able to transport and deliver a full load of transport helicopters, 1000 troops, 4 LCM’s, loading and unloading tanks, armoured vehicles, trucks, etc, etc), let alone suddenly being an aircraft carrier too!!

    Sorry guys, nice dream, but not reality.

    Getting back to the article itself, yes an interesting development, but not unknown, unexpected or unsurprising at all.

    Yes China finally have their 25 year old second hand refurbished carrier out doing sea trials and managing to have a couple of J15’s landing and taking off, and yes, it is an impressive start.

    But it’s going to be long long time before they have a true “blue” water capability, the capability to put a “US” style carrier task group out into “harms way” in the deep blue, probably not in the life of this “training” carrier, but in years to come when they get more experience and a few more new built hulls into service.

    For China this is as much about flag waving and the prestige of being in the “big league” as it is about anything else.

    I don’t think I’ll be losing sleep worrying about the sight of their carrier parked off Sydney Heads threatening us, In any event, China doesn’t need to go war with the world, it’s going to win that battle economically, eventually!!



  • Neil P


    If you knew what the LHDs were John N you would know that they are designed by Navantia for the Spanish Armada specifically to carry F35Bs as well as armed infantry and all of their toys. The BPE/LHD is a multi-role platform capable of command and control, force projection, amphibious assult, humanitarian relief and multi-national operations, just to name a few.
    Just like the RAAF with Wedgetail, the RAN has people embedded within USMC amphibious operations to build corporate knowledge to assist in the transition to these ships. You rightly point out that it will take time to work up the capabilities you have identified, not to mention the ones you missed. But that is par for the course with any new capability. The ADF has been doing just that for many years.
    The RAN lost traditional carrier capabilities with the decommissioning of HMAS Melbourne many years ago but that is irrelevant in the context of F35Bs and LHD. The only difference betweeen the F35B and a helo is that the helo doesn’t need the ski ramp to get off the deck. They both recover the same way. No special tools, no special equipment, no special personnel. Just drop in. Integrating F35Bs is much easier than you think.
    As for the Australian order of up to 100 F35As, do you really think that the US would say no to a change in order make up to accomodate F35Bs? There has been repeated official denial over the course of many years about a mixed order but the thought is there in the upper echelons of defence and government.
    Defence developments in our region in recent times should be a wake up call to the government about what it has done to defence. China is just one nation building up capabilities that pose a possible threat to our sovreignty.

  • John N


    Neil P,

    “If you knew what the LHDs were …” a little bit personal maybe?, but anyway, I’ll let that one go through to the keeper!

    Where do I start:

    * Yes Neil, I do know that the project called, Buque de Proyeccion Estrategica, (Strategic Projection Vessel) became the Juan Carlos 1 (Pennant No L-61). Interestingly on the Spanish Navy website they also list her under the tab “LHD” too, funny that?

    * Yes I do know that the Spanish Navy certainly do have a broad range of capabilities that the JC1 is required to perform.

    * Yes I also know that the Spanish Navy currently operate one “dedicated” Aircraft Carrier, the Principe de Asturias (R-11), the design is basically a planned, but not proceeded with, USN Sea Control Ship, it operates AV8B+, and helicopters too.

    * Did you know that there has been speculation that the PdA might be withdrawn from active Spanish Navy service because of Spain’s financial problems? Did you also know that Spain hasn’t put its name down yet for F-35B’s too?

    * Yes the JC1 does have a “ski ramp”, but was the “whole” ship specifically designed around that capability, as you have suggested? Don’t think so, the fact that it has a ski ramp is only part of the reason for the ship.

    * Yes in the time of a “potential” conflict the fact that JC1 has a ski ramp means it can be a back up to the PdA, and at other times ensure the Spanish Fleet Air Arm pilots skills are kept current when PdA is in refit, etc.

    * Yes I do know that the choice for the LHD was between the Spanish LHD and a “stretched” French Mistral, one with a ski jump and one without, one with a strengthened deck and one without.

    * Yes in the end we went for the Spanish Ship (tied to the Spanish AWD deal perhaps?). In regard to the “ski ramp” I was told once by a Defence Professional that to delete it would have added cost due to its “structural” nature on the LHD’s.

    * Yes I do know that the ADF has people embedded with the US, and very helpful that is, it will help with the LHD’s introduction into that role, what that has to do with Australia having a Fleet Air Arm again, I just don’t know.

    * Neil you said, “not to mention the ones that you missed” yes I didn’t list “all” the jobs the LHD’s are expected to do, but I did list a number and say “etc, etc”, maybe you might want to fill in the blanks?

    * Can you also please give me a “real world” example of where Australia might send it’s LHD’s into that will require us to have Combat Aircraft in support without the USA being there too?

    * Yes I agree, I’m sure we could change our “mix” for the 100 F-35’s planned because of our good relationship, but seriously, I’m more concerned that with the cuts to Defence that the RAAF won’t get what it needs, let alone re-establishing a Fleet Air Arm for the RAN.

    * At NO stage did I say that an F-35B couldn’t take off or land from our LHD’s, but again realistically, I can’t see it happening.

    Neil, at the end of the day in this forum we can sit here and “split hairs”, we can all play armchair Admiral, Air Marshal, General, but the fact remains Australia is spending around 1.5% of GDP on defence, it is going to be almost impossible to fulfill the plan set out in the last White Paper, let alone create a Fleet Air Arm again for the Navy, sorry, but it’s just not going to happen.

    I’m a strong supporter of the defence of this country, my family has been involved in the Boer War, WWI and WWII for Australia. I’m just being realistic, neither can we afford a FAA or the $’s that are need to achieve that too.

    We can’t expect Defence to be able to fulfill all the roles to cover all the possibilites that might occur, but we should at least concentrate on what we can do well within what we can “really” afford.

    Anyway, happy to continue the debate.



  • Greg



    The Canberra LHD ski jump is designed for the AV-8B. The F-35 requires a different slope profile (as is being fitted to the RN QE class). It’s deck is also not reinforced for the heat of the F-35B’s much more powerful engine.

    RAN has only not removed the AV-8B ramp from the LHD order as it would require to fund the design change and risk unforseen problems down the road (ala AF/A-18A launch bar removal!).


  • a_obama


    I think most of people don’t understand China and the Chinese.

    China is a continental country and has been working on land defense for thousand years. But once it realizes the danger is from the sea, it will mobilize whatsoever it has to try to build sea defense. This is what happens here on the Liaoning boat and its on-board J-15s, building a Great Wall on the sea.

    Never underestimate the Chinese’s determination to protect themselves. China is the only major living civilization without interruption and this, obviously, has something to do with their dedication to and determination for self-defense. If history can be a mirror of future, I would bet that most of the existing cultures and civilizations, the Western culture included, will collapse before China crumbles. Remember where is that once powerful, once mighty ancient Roman Empire now? China was its contemporary nation, and has managed to escape the all historic mishaps that the deceased civilizations were trapped into. There must be some reasons.

    Time for reality check now. China is determined to build another Great Wall, i.e., developing the Anti-access / Area Denial capacity, (A2/AD as we commonly know,) is it stoppable?

    Building the Great Wall on land cost millions of life, but that country refused to give up until knives and arrows were no longer used in the war. Very likely this will happen again. It may take the efforts and the sacrifices of many generations’ Chinese to come, but I doubt they will stop. Therefore, it is up to other countries to accept it or try to fight against it for hundred and thousand years to stop them.

    The Game of Taiwan is now almost finished. What China needs is, when next Taiwan crisis breaks out, just to deploy this boat down to the Southern Taiwan sea to stop outside military interventions from high sea. It doesn’t matter how capable this boat is and the J-15s are, no foreigners will dare to attack it. Any attempt to attack this mobile off-shore airfield will be considered as a hostility equal to launching a missile attack on the Three Gorgeous Dam and China has all necessary means to deal with such a hostility.

    The Game of Pivot to Asia is also about to finished. China has the political will, the resources and the patience to spend thousand years to build this Great Wall on the sea, will the US?

  • Raymond


    Some legislation to make defence spending a minimum 2.0% of GDP mandatory anyone?? 2.0% isn’t even a lot… The lowest military expenditure as a percentage of GDP since 1938 is just pathetic and unacceptable. National defence is the number one responsibility of any government, and they need to increase spending to give the ADF the capability and options it requires and start treating defence a little more seriously instead of using the defence budget as an easy target to cut funds from just because it isn’t a huge vote-winner. This surely must create a lot of uncertainty in planning, and reneging on funding guarantees after imposing extensive reforms (SRP and $20 billion in cost reductions) is a disgrace.

  • John N



    Couple of comment on the points you made.

    In regard to Ski Ramps, below is a list of current, recent or planned ships that STOVL aircraft operations are relevant to (and yes I haven’t found all the info on the degree of ski ramp on some ships, sorry!):

    PdA – 12 degree – AV8B (F35B??)
    JC1 – 12 degree – AV8B (F35B??)

    Illustrious – 12? degree – Sea Harrier + Harrier (aircraft retired, ship will be retired before F35B’s)
    QE II – ?? degree – F35B (not in service yet)

    LHD’s – no ski ramp – AV8B then to F35B
    LHA’s – no ski ramp – AV8B then to F35B

    Viraat – 12 degree – STOVL – Sea Harrier FRS51(Ship will be retired when India gets it’s STOBAR carrier and Mig 29’s).

    Giuseppe Garibaldi – 4 degree – AV-8B (Not sure if still in service when F35B arrives)
    Cavour – 12 degree – AV-8B (will be replaced by F35B)

    Chakri Naruebet – 12 degrees – AV-8S (retired in 2006, the ship is basically inactive from a carrier point of view)

    As you can see they range from no ski ramp, 4 to 12 degrees, a STOVL aircraft can operate from all, the limiting factor is to do with: air temperature, the weight of the aircraft at take off, length of flight deck, wind speed over the bow, etc. An interesting statistic is:

    “An AV-8B Harrier with a gross weight of 29,000 lb (13,000 kg) on a 59F (15C) day and a 35kn (40mph; 65km/h) wind over the deck would require 400ft (120m) to takeoff using a 12 degree ski jump ramp design, as on the Principe de Asturias, but 750ft (230m) without the ski jump ramp”.

    The USN ships don’t have ski ramps, but they have much longer flight decks, the others have much shorter flight decks so they use ski jumps to get the same end result.

    A STOVL aircraft can take off from any of those decks regardless of a 4, 12 or more degree ski jump, or no ski jump, but of course at the lower end it would have to sacrifice payload to achieve that.

    In regard to “reinforcement” of the ship’s deck.

    Two separate issues, yes the deck has to be of sufficient construction to withstand the weights of the F35B’s and large helicopters too, but it has more to do with damage to the deck coating from the higher level of heat gasses, as I understand it, the F35B exhaust nozzle is being redesigned to spread the hot gasses into an “oval” rather than a “small” circle to reduced damage to the deck coating and also the USN has to look at deck coatings that are more resilient, a solution will no doubt be found in both land and sea trials.

    The last point you made, sorry, but the RAN has not removed the ski ramp from the LHD’s, its part of the “basic” design of the ships, it’s just that we are NOT going to use it to operate STOVL aircraft as I have been saying.

    The ONLY time the ski ramp on the RAN’s LHD’s might be used, again I say “might” be used, if sometime in the future the RAN acquires mid/medium sized recon UAV’s (something like a RAAF Heron for example) to launch from the decks, getting them back on board is going to be the interesting bit!!



  • John N



    Yes agree, 2% of GDP should be a minimum, 2.5% would be better!

    Unfortunately Defence is not “sexy”, not always seen by the general public as being as important as it is, save the planet, save the whale, save the forests, but don’t spend enought on defence to save us!

    But first we have to have Governments that don’t waste our taxes.

    Who can forget the BER, Laptops, Pink Batts, Set Top Boxes for Pensioners, the NBN, Carbon Tax, and the “illegal” entries who continue to come to us via Indonesia, Billons in foreign aid (yes to some, but others who we give money to, well??), the list goes on!

    What is it now? 100’s of boats and 30,000 illegal entries since this Government came back into power, we wouldn’t be in this big deep pond of “poo” if the above had been handled better.

    There is probably at least $100Billion in that list above.

    And yes, Defence needs to be more efficient in how it spends it $’s too.

    Ok, rant over!!



  • Neil P


    lol love the deck melting comments! There is some great footage of the F35B flight trials aboard USS Wasp doijng the rounds and, despite the naysayers, the deck did not in fact melt. Its interesting to note that the F35 got off the deck without any problems considering the difference in length to the LHD flight deck. The USS Wasp is shorter than Nuship Canberra. Some of the footage shows the strain the landing gear is under during vertical landing ops.

    The ski jump provides an excellent increase in relative wind speed (Bernoulli’s Principle!) to assist the aircraft which allows for a shorter flight deck, and hence a smaller ship, whilst being able to do similar to CV type aircraft without the dangers of a catapult.

    Speaking of which, for those of you who may be interested, there is some good footage online showing the start of the superstructure of Nuship Canberra being positioned on the hull recently. She’s definitely starting to take shape.

  • John N


    Neil Neil Neil, you are such a funny fellow, It’s just a pity you can’t get your “facts” straight! LOL too!!

    * JC1 / Canberra Class LHD – 230.8m (757ft) long, approx 27,500 tonnes displacement

    * USS Wasp LHD – 257m (844ft) long, approx 40,500 tonnes displacement

    Wasp is shorter than Canberra? Yeah right!

    The other point regarding the lengths of the flight decks, USS Wasp, and the other US Navy LHD’s and LHA’s, is that their flights decks run the “full” length of the ship, JC1 and Canberra Class do not, look at photo’s of the stern of the ships and you will see for yourself.

    I don’t understand the point you were trying to make about the flight deck lengths? If you actually read the previous posts, it has been made clear that a STOVL aircraft can operate from a variety of ships, different sizes and lengths, with or without a ski jump.

    In fact a STOVL aircraft could take off Vertically from a space that was large enough to fit the aircraft, regardless of the deck configuration, but that of course would consume large amounts of fuel and sacrifice payload.

    Sorry, but the point you were making was in fact pointless.

    Deck Melting? That’s a funny one too! If you actually read my previous post, this issue has to do with the “deck coating” being damaged by the increased heat of the gasses emitted by the F35B, as opposed to an AV8B.

    Yes, I’ve seen the video of the F35B onboard trial’s too, but “trials” don’t constitute an “operational” situation, month in, month out, year in, year out.

    The introduction of any new system will throw up issues, that’s way “trial’s” are conducted, but it wasn’t suggested that those issue wouldn’t be addressed for fixed.

    In regard to Canberra, below are some links to the fitting of the superstructure by BAE and also a visit to the ship by “Smith & Co” for a photo opp:



    I’ll have to agree with you on one thing at least! Good to see that BAE is getting on with the job that our Spanish friends started, look forward to seeing her here in Sydney at FBE in the not too distant future.

    Neil P, mate, happy to debate any point with you, but can you please do a bit of basic research first?



  • NotPeter


    How old are you John? 14?? I’m sure they have fanboy forums for you!

  • John N


    Dear NotPeter (your initials “NP”, same as Neil P too, funny that!),

    I’m still laughing, “14 and Fanboy”, very funny! Maybe you could recommend some of those forums you mentioned?



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