May 18, 2018

Chinese Navy's New J-15Ds Can Shoot Down US & Australian Aircraft

The photo at top may be the J-15D Chinese carrier aircraft or the very similar J-16D Chinese airforce aircraft. These perform electronic attack or jamming an art first perfected by the UK and then US (Photo courtesy China's Daily Express


Just as the or electronic attack EA-18G "Growler" provides electronic warfare/jamming support to  enhance the stealth capabilities of US aircraft China is also developing the J-15D and J-16D EA fast jets to obscure not yet fully developed Chinese J-20 and J-31 stealth fighters.

China's EA aircraft are just two examples of China using the world's second highest defense budget (SIPRI estimates US$228 Billion for 2017) to build the essential military backup capabilities for a formidable defence force. In contrast Russia conventional defence posture may be more threat and propaganda because Russia only has a $66 Billion budget. 

There are many synonyms for Electronic Attack including 
-  Electronic Countermeasures (ECM)
-  Electronic Warfare (EW)
-  "Jamming" and "Electronic Decoys" and "Window or Chaff" may be the oldest
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term becoming more popular.


The information below mainly draws from China's Daily Express article of April 24, 2018, on the  new EA J-15D:

A New Carrier Aircraft With Electronic Attack Capabilities Appears

The Chinese navy (PLAN) has acquired a new type of carrier aircraft, the J-15D. The J-15D is a carrier-based aircraft that mounts electronic attack pods on the tips of its wings, underwings and perhaps centerline. The Chinese navy J-15D is similar to the Chinese Airforce J-16D (introduced in 2015). 

The J-15Ds and J-16Ds serve the same purpose as the EA-18G Growler electronic fighter now deployed in the US and Australian defence forces.  

[Pete Comment: For other Western countries to get full value out of their F-35s they may well need to purchase equally high priced Growlers!]

[Pete comment: The main difference between the naval carrier J-15D and the airforce J-16D is the 
J-15D would have a tail arrestor hook, stronger shock absorbers and some airframe hardening for the "controlled crash" arrested recovery operations. The naval variant J-15D would have also been developed due to commonalities of parts, systems and regular upgrades with China's common carrier jet the J-15.]

The J-15D is a two-seater (pilot and EW officer) fast jet. It carries a variety of new types of pods for reconnaissance, attack/interference and self-defense and can carry Eagle-Strike YJ-91
anti-radiation missiles ARMs. These new pods provide powerful EW capabilities for land based and carrier fighter squadrons.


The J-15D with wingtip and underwing electronic pods shown above. Also an underwing Eagle-Strike YJ-91 anti-radiation missile (ARM) is probably displayed. The YJ-91 would certainly have an air-to-surface capability. The YJ-91, or similar ARMs, have an air-to-air capability against large slow aircraft putting out emissions. This would enable J-15D's using YJ-91s to hit Western Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft at long range (100+ km) (eg. E-2s, E-3s,  Australian E-7A Wedgetails and surveillance aircraft like Australian AP-3C Orions). (Photo from China's Daily Express ) 

Israel has also developed an effective electronic attack capability. Submarine Matters' recounted Israel's 2007 use of Suter Electronic Jamming for Israel's successful Operation Orchid/Out of the Box airstrike against a Syrian nuclear reactor site - see



Anonymous said...


The F-35 is stated to be able to accept the Next Generation Jammer without any physical modifications. That statement was fully explained, but I suspect the implication is that all of the ESM functionality of the EF-18G is handled by the systems already present in the F-35, and all that would be required is software integration and an active emitter source. In which case a F-18G purchase may not be the best path for countries buying F-35, though in the case of the RAAF they not only already have EFs, they also bought a number of fighter types wired up to be converted to EF standard with minor modifications (removal of gun and wingtip pylons and appropriate emitters/receivers added). NGJ is slated for F-18G integration first, and the low RCS of the F-35 is less useful for standoff work so it would make sense to for the RAAF to purchase NGJ as soon as it is available to them for their F-18s - the USN will have already handled the integration work for the type.


Josh said...


I'm not familiar with the jamming pod on that J-15 but I've found pictures of a similar system mounted on JH-7:

The pods differ in this arrangement - since the JH-7 isn't an EW warfare a/c, I'm assuming one or both of these pods must function as the ESM system as well as the active emitter. Presumably the ESM component is in the wing pods of the J-15 as it is in the EF-18G. Interestingly these pods don't seem to use ram air turbines for power - presumably the aircraft provides the power. This would probably limit peak transmit power if it were the case. The new NGJ for the US uses GaN emitters to boast peak transmission and a new form of ram air generator inside the pod to generate 90kW of power.


Anonymous said...

I agree that Australian F/A-18 need to upgrade to the NG jammer, but I would add that they also need the conformal fuel tanks to eliminate the blind spots they currently have with external fuel tanks. Australia may also want to fund an integration of Meteor on their F/A-18. Today, NATO only medium range IR AAM is the French MICA and that is also something worthwhile to integrate in conjunction with an IRST pod.

Anonymous said...

China has acquired from Russia 3 generations of jammers, Gardeniya (on SU-27), Knirty (with SU-30) and recently Khibiny (on their SU-35). They exist in wing pods, centerline pod and internal configurations.
I assume the home grown version is likely improved upon Gardeniya and Knirty but I am sure they will learn quickly from Khibiny. China is likely more advanced than Russia with fab, but the US still hold an advantage. That is not to say China will not close the gap quickly as this is one of their 2025 strategic initiative and Xi is pouring train loads of money into it, especially after the ZTE embargo. That embargo will hurt China in the near term but in the long term US manufacturers are going to definitely feel the heat (we can see that initial wave already with smartphones)

Anonymous said...

I thought I saw it stated somewhere that Australia was contributing to the next generation jammer along with USA, which should mean Australia will definately be getting them. I am not sure if it is monetry only or we are contributing some tech as well (like the latest CBASS torpedo).

If the USN go with the conformal fuel tanks then I expect we would too as there is a stated objective to keep up with USN airframe upgrades for the Super Hornets (rather than let it slip as we did a few times with the legacy Hornets). We could even go first (though I doubt it). USN also keep track of what we do (eg we asked Boeing to modify our EF18G's to enable carrying of AIM9X as well as the standard EW setup - something I believe they are now looking at).

The real question is how good is their jammer in reality & can we jam their jammer or will it end up cancelling each other out. If the latter, then it will be back to IR based missiles. Good thing we added them to our EF18G's. We may need to add MICA.

I also worry about adding more & more options onto the F35. Sensor fusion is great but at some point you will overwelm the single crew member with information. There are already stories of them turning off elements in the helmet displays because they are getting in the way. Most dedicated EW & heavy strike aircraft tend to be dual seat with the 2nd seat occupied with a specialist operator & console.


Anonymous said...

J-20 are starting to fly combat patrols over China ADIZ, so it probably will not be too long before encountering Japanese intercepts?
Indian SU-30MKI claimed to be able to detect J-20 CAPs over Tibet but that may not means anything: J-20 during training in Inner Mongolia typically display Luneburg radar reflectors under their bellies.

Sebastien said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention! I wrote a profile on the J-16D for th National Interest a while back in which I speculated that it would be easy to make a carrier-based version, and lo and behold... Very interesting point that these aircraft could team up with the J-20 in a similar fashion as the Super Hornet/Lightning pairing (though J-20 is not carrier based, it may have long enough range.)

Peter Coates said...

Hi Sabastien

Yes I noticed your excellent article of November 30, 2017 which contains the assessment:

"If Beijing wanted to, it could probably develop a carrier-based equivalent to the J-16D. The J-15 Flying Shark fighters on China’s two Type 001 carriers also share common heritage in the Flanker family of aircraft, and pursuing a similar upgrade of the two-seat J-15SD seems plausible."

China seems to be persuing the right strategy in just concentrating on the J-15 variants for its ski jump carriers. Meanwhile India has relied on 2 very different fighters:
- the useful MiG-29K but also
- the too long in development, hence now obsolete before introduction, HAL Tejas. [1] for the Vikrant ski jump carrier [2]

China's J-20 (which may become superior to the F-35 in speed, supercruise and climb) may need to wait for Chinese CATOBAR carriers to be developed.





Josh said...


Is there any source for the J-20 potentially being superior in 'speed, supercruise, and climb'? As far as I know none of these stats have been revealed, and in fact the current engine is deemed insufficient by the Chinese. Furthermore I have a hard time believing that such a large aircraft could have a particularly energetic T:W ratio. Supercruise is possible, but so far as I know never claimed or demonstrated. Also the J-20 doesn't strike me as a very good candidate for CV work due to size. J-31 seems like a better fit, though it is unclear if this aircraft will even enter Chinese service.


Anonymous said...

The reason India went with the MIG-29k for its ski jump carrier is likely the result of the Soviet experiences. Russia found out that the heavier SU-33, which is also based on the SU-27, was too heavy. Its T/W was inferior to the MIG-29 and did not allow for sufficient payload off a ski jump.
The new China ski jump carrier has an even shallower ski jump and that likely will translate into worse payloads (I am guessing).
J-20 with its delta wing will have a rather high stall speed and landing speed. Canards will improve take off and landing performances by re-directing airflow so the delta wing does not stall easily, that's why you see canards on Gripen, Rafale, Typhoon, Kfir, Cheetah, etc. You do see Rafale landing on a CVN but Rafale is a much smaller plane with some rather powerful engines with the same equivalent thrust to the F/A-18 (it was designed for the shorter catapults on the Charles de Gaulle). I do not think J-20 is optimized for carrier applications.

Peter Coates said...

I'm happy with my COMMENT:

"China's J-20 (which may become superior to the F-35 in speed, supercruise and climb) may need to wait for Chinese CATOBAR carriers to be developed."

Neither a Future navalized J-20 nor a Future Chinese CATOBAR carrier have been developed to prove or disprove the comment.

No proof needed or can be expected when COMMENTING on future issues.

Submarine Matters will not be constrained by official sources.

Also in the knowledge that sources (like HUMINT and SIGINT) on verifiable Chinese fighter-carrier performance are highly classified hence unpublishable...

Peter Coates said...

Yes Josh and KQN

A lighter J-31 would be a better CATOBAR carrier stealth fighter starting point than an overweight J-20.

Also modifying a J-15 to have stealthier electronics and a RAM coating may be a technology route. More powerful, efficient, thrust-vectoring engines would also help.

Many opinions and comments possible on improved airwing while the better CATOBAR carrier [1] is being developed.


"The ship is expected to be launched in 2020 and enter active service in 2023."

Zihao Yu said...

Chine never deployed J20 inside Tibet. The Indians also never said they have detected it. They , I mean the air chief did, and only claim J20 can be seen few kms away ,of course.