China Developed Catapult-launched Version J-15T Naval Aircraft

The aircraft in the yellow frame does not have the “flying shark” symbol and the “八一” military emblem, while the aircraft in the red frame has a larger tail-tip radome and uses AL-31F engines.

In a recent Chinese official report, a unique single-seat J-15 fighter jet appeared in the hangar, with its wings, tail and engine vents all covered with tarpaulin, which is different from other J-15 carrier-borne fighter jets in the same hangar.

J-15 airframe 554.

Besides, this jet has optical tracking markings (commonly referred to as “BMW logos”) used for test flight observation on its pendant tail and ventral fin, indicating that it is a prototype aircraft. And among the prototypes of the single-seat series of J-15 fighter, apart from the basic No. 554 and 555 prototypes, No. 571 J-15T (“T” stands for Chinese pinyin “Tanshe” which means “catapult launch”) is also painted in naval gray.

No. 554 prototype has the “flying shark” symbol on the tail, No. 555 prototype has the “八一” military emblem on the tail, and the radomes of the two tails are dark; while the one in this hangar does not match such features

No. 571 J-15T fighter jet has a “BMW logo” on the vertical tail, without the “Flying Shark” symbol and “八一” military emblem. Note that the jet uses the homemade “Taihang”engines

According to Chinese military analyst Zhenchadian, it is very likely that this aircraft is No. 571 J-15T, and its “idle” parking state also coincides with the J-15T which has already undergone thousands of catapult launch tests in different external configurations, proving that the catapult launch technology and the supporting products can be used to improve the J-15 and complete its stage mission. As for the J-15 with a large tail-tip radome and no military insignia, it is easier to judge – this is the J-15 electronic warfare prototype that appeared at the shipboard training base last year.

The enlarged vertical tail radome is an unnoticed but highly recognizable detail of the J-15 electronic warfare type

In fact, except for the inherited tri-wing layout, folding wings and flat tail, reinforced front landing gear and tailhook, the J-15 electronic warfare aircraft differs from the J-15/15S in a lot of details, only before the cockpit, the central airspeed tube of the radome has been abolished, and the length of the radome is obviously shorter than other “flankers”, and the IRST/optical radar has been abolished in front of the cockpit.

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Use catapult can significantly enhance the efficiency of carrier-based aircraft. China’s first aircraft carrier “Liaoning ship” Since the service, its J-15 fighter jets equipped with the sliding since the only flying leaps and much controversy. However, aside catapult with flying leaps slippery whether one is better debated topics aside, the way is to fly “Liaoning ship” of the ski-jump, the biggest problem faced is the takeoff on the flight deck operational efficiency issues. If the J-15 from the No. 1 elevator on deck, you have to move by pulling back on the meter. If using catapult, up on deck waiting for the J-15 can be close to the ejection, the amount of work can be reduced a lot. Since the ejector mounting positions are more forward, blocking the rear deck flame board space, compared with more planes can be parked, creating better conditions for the catapult to take off again, and start the next one can catapult then place rack. So for future aircraft carriers, the adoption of catapult take-off will effectively improve the efficiency of carrier-based aircraft to take off, domestic research department developed catapult-type carrier-based fighter is inevitable choice.

In the foreseeable future 5-10 years, the Chinese J-15 will continue to be the main carrier-based aircraft. While China, the development of challenging ejection system, ejection system must be carefully designed and manufactured to operate effectively. But with the development of China’s future to start building aircraft carriers with catapults, catapult solve the problem it has become China military research personnel problems to be solved. Once the technology is mature ejection future, China will certainly catapult applications in early warning aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft and tanker aircraft research and development, to improve the overall combat capability of the Chinese aircraft carrier battle groups.

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