New photos that have appeared on Chinese aviation websites suggest that mass production of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-15 carrier-based multirole fighter is gathering pace.
Two new J-15 aircraft, numbered 104 and 105, are ready for delivery by SAC to the People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF). The new additions take the total of known J-15 aircraft to 11, including prototypes.
At the same time testing continues with the J-15S, the twin-seat variant of the J-15. New photos show a bright yellow prototype conducting flight tests. The aircraft appears to be very close to production status.
Chinese internet sources state that there will be three variants of the J-15S: an advanced trainer for J-15 pilots; a multirole combat variant; and an electronic warfare variant modelled on the US Navy's Boeing EA-18G Growler. (via Chinese internet)
Shenyang is also testing J-15S tandem-seat aircraft.
The J-15S will also be able to function as a command-and-control platform within a fleet of J-15/J-15S combat aircraft: a capability that Sukhoi developed on the Su-30MKK2 - a version of the legacy Su-30 family (the basis for the J-15) that was optimised for naval operations. This ability is especially relevant to the PLANAF as China has yet to put a fixed-wing carrier-based airborne early warning and control aircraft into service.
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