(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.
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