Monday, January 16, 2012

China's carrier-based J-15 fighter photographed at base with ski jump

More photos have appeared of the Chinese Shenyang J-15 carrier-based fighter have appeared on the internet over the past few days, including a series of seemingly surreptitiously-taken photos shot of a J-15 taxiing past the photographer's location. The latest to appear is aircraft 553, while a surprisingly good quality photograph of aircraft 556 has also been seen on Chinese websites. British military aviation magazine Combat Aircraft Monthly has noted on Twitter that unconfirmed reports have said that up to 5-6 J-15s are currently undergoing testing.

(NOTE: Some of the following images have slightly higher-resolution versions available by clicking on the thumbnail)

In contrast with J-15s snapped earlier at a different location already painted and carrying national insignia, both 553 and 556 are in yellow chromate primer finish, and sport numerous photo calibration markings. Closeup shots of 553 also show a arrester hook peeping out from the lower rear fuselage.

Of some additional interest is the (unknown) base 553 was snapped at, of which a general overview can be seen here

But the noteworthy part is just to the left of the tower in the photos, which is

Various reports in the past few years (see here and here) have previously hinted at ski jumps being built at Chinese airbases, but this would be the first confirmation that one exists. This would also lend weight to the conclusion that the rumoured carriers China is/will be building, in addition to refurbishing the former Soviet Admiral Kuznetsov-class carrier Varyag will utilise the STOBAR method of launch and recovery of carrier-based fixed-wing assets.

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