The first clear images of the new Shenyang J-15D electronic attack aircraft for the People’s Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF) have appeared online. The heavily reworked Chinese development of the Flanker family is also understood to carry the designation J-17. Meanwhile, some enthusiasts have dubbed it the ‘Chinese-Growler’, on account of a suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) role presumed analogous to that of the US Navy’s EA-18G Growler.
Indeed, the ‘Chinese-Growler’ name is not too far-fetched, since the aircraft apparently follows a similar development path to the EA-18G, which was evolved from the two-seat F/A-18F. The J-15D is based on the dual-seat J-15S trainer, which first flew on November 3, 2012, and also incorporates technologies from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s J-16D – itself an electronic warfare variant of the twin-seat Shenyang J-16 strike fighter.
According to reliable sources, a first J-15D testbed was first flown back in October 2016 and this latest aircraft is the first true prototype.
Characteristic features of the J-15D include two huge electronic warfare pods on the wingtips that likely contain either electronic support measures (ESM) or electronic intelligence (ELINT) equipment.
Based on the latest reports, development of the J-15S has meanwhile been abandoned and the project merged with the J-15D to create a true multi-role J-17 carrier variant. Andreas Rupprecht
February 2019For the February AFM we paid an exclusive visit to the secretive base at Al Udeid, Qatar, to witness US Air Force B-1B operations during combat missions in the Middle East. The result was a rare first-hand look at the Lancer and its crews at war and the impressive ‘Bone’ dominates the cover of the latest issue.
We also continue our series of features celebrating the career of the RAF’s Tornado GR4 in the run-up to the type’s retirement. We spoke to Pete Beilby, who turned 24 in the Kuwaiti desert while deployed on Operation Telic – the youngest RAF Tornado pilot engaged in the 2003 war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces.
UK coverage also includes one of the Tornado’s successors, the F-35B. Richard Scott joined HMS Queen Elizabeth off the east coast of the US at the end of the First Of Class Flight Trials to find out how aircraft and ship performed together.
Making fighter pilots is the business of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 419 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, part of the NATO Flying Training in Canada programme. Dirk Jan de Ridder investigates its Phase IV syllabus – the last step before the cockpit of a frontline fighter.
The end of the year saw some significant large-scale exercises around the world and Exercise Reports this month feature CRUZEX in Brazil, the Royal Netherlands Army’s Falcon Autumn and Trident Juncture in Norway.,There’s more from Norway in a report from Bodø airfield, home of the Westland Sea King Mk43Bs of 330 Skvadron, which is responsible for search and rescue among the country’s rugged coastline and fjords.
Meanwhile, AFM correspondents range far and wide to bring coverage from the ninth Iran International Airshow on the island of Kish, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s open house at Iruma Air Base and from Palanquero air base, where Yissachar Ruas flew with the upgraded Kfir fighters of the Colombian Air Force.