China’s next super weapon: Is Beijing developing its own Su-34 fullback?

(From the National Interest)

By Dave Majumdar

China appears to have started testing a new “indigenous” combat aircraft derived from the Russian Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker family. The aircraft would be the latest in a series of Chinese fighters that are unlicensed copies of Russian jets.

If a photo—posted on the Chinese internet site Weibo yesterday—is genuine, the new Chinese aircraft appears to be similar in concept to the Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback. It appears to have a similar duckbill radome and side-by-side cockpit seating. However, the Chinese jet has much larger, broader canards that blend in with the aircraft’s wings. It also has a large sting that looks similar to the Su-34’s.

Russian Su-34

Russian Su-34

Russia is not thought to have sold the Fullback bomber variant of the Flanker to any other nation. Nor does the Chinese version of the aircraft appear to be a direct copy of the Su-34 or its earlier Su-32 predecessor. Rather, the new aircraft—while it is clearly a Su-27 derivative—appears to be a parallel development inspired by the Fullback.

It is possible that the Chinese modified the Su-27 independently based on what they knew about the Su-34. But it is also possible that the Chinese either gleaned the technology through espionage or via a third party. In previous years, the Chinese acquired a prototype of the Su-33 carrier-based version of the Flanker from which they derived the J-15 naval strike fighter that flies off the carrier Liaoning. Read more

Categories: Asia Times News & Features, China

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