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China to develop J-15D EW fighter jet for aircraft carrier Fujian.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by CCTV on March 30, 2024, China's state broadcaster recently announced the development of the J-15D, an electronic warfare version of the J-15 carrier-based fighter jet, equipped with electronic warfare pods similar to those on the J-16D, another of China's electronic warfare aircraft.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Shenyang J-15 fighter aircraft on the aircraft carrier Liaoning. (Picture source: Chinese Communist Party)

This development is expected to enhance the capabilities of China's aircraft carrier, the Fujian, with the J-15D predicted to soon make its appearance on the carrier's deck. 

Previously, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) only had the J-16D as its electronic warfare aircraft, which is not a carrier-based version, indicating a gap in China's carrier-based electronic warfare capabilities.

The J-15D, a variant designed for electronic combat, is equipped with pods resembling those on the J-16D, emphasizing its dual role as both a fighter and an electronic warfare aircraft. With its heavy, twin-engine design, the J-15D can carry a larger arsenal of air-to-air and air-to-surface/sea munitions than the J-35, offering a broader range of applications.

According to reports, the J-15D represents the third electronic warfare platform in the PLA's fighter fleet. It is based on the Russian Su-33 carrier-based fighter jet, with the electronic warfare version still under testing and it is unclear whether mass production is planned.

Experts suggest that the primary reason for upgrading the J-15 to an electronic warfare variant was due to its original design as a carrier-based aircraft, which already had a mature configuration suitable for such a transformation with the addition of electronic warfare capabilities.

However, the J-15D's takeoff from carriers equipped with ski-jump decks, such as the Liaoning and Shandong, could be challenging due to its reliance on its own power. Thus, the Fujian carrier, which is equipped with an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), is deemed more suitable for this versatile fighter, capable of both anti-ship strikes and electronic warfare.

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