J-16 fighter
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Afraid of Rafale, China sent J-16 to the border with India


In order to deal with the potential threat from Indian Rafale fighters bought from France, China has sent J-16 multi-role fighters (copied from Russian Su-30) to bases. close to the border with India.

According to China Television (CCTV), combat aircraft units, under the command of the Chinese Air Force, in the Western theater (area bordering India), have begun J-16 multirole fighters to enter into service. Western Theater Command, which is specifically responsible for security in the border areas with India, where the tense situation broke out in June 2020.

The increase of J-16 fighters is said to be to counterbalance the Rafale fighters that India has just received from France. The multi-role fighter J-16 developed by China will become the main Chinese fighter model that can be used to deter the enemy.

J-16 fighter aircraft
J-16 fighter aircraft

The Shenyang J-16 multi-role fighter was developed by China based on the J-11BS platform with some modifications to the Su-30MK standard. This multi-role fighter is expected to become the backbone of the Chinese Air Force (PLAAF) in the future with a production volume of no less than a few hundred.

Although considered a copy of the Su-30MK2 when there are many similarities from shape to tactical characteristics, the PLAAF confidently asserts that its multi-role fighter possesses many more outstanding features than the Su-30MK.

In the late 1990s, Russia agreed to sell the Su-27 production line to China to develop into the J-11. Then, in the early 2000s, China imported Su-30MKK fighters from Russia. Seizing the opportunity, Beijing once again dissected a new Russian fighter line to produce a domestic version.

From the experience of copying the Su-27 and Su-30MKK, Chinese engineers completed a project to develop a domestic two-seat fighter aircraft called the J-16. The J-16 was introduced between 2012 and 2013 but the PLAAF did not provide further information about the fighter until a year ago.

During the parade to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army of China in August 2017, J-16 suddenly appeared in the parade with other fighters.

The J-16’s weaponry is more about anti-ship and ground attack missions. That leads analysts to believe that it is specifically designed for potential military campaigns against the island of Taiwan (China). However, tensions with India heated up in the context of New Delhi receiving Rafale fighters from France, which prompted Beijing to deploy J-16s.

Based on the numbers of the aircraft appearing in the exercises, military experts believe that the PLAAF has secretly added more J-16s to its squadrons, a sign that this fighter model will plays a large role in China’s future combat capability, especially with the conflict scenario near the island of Taiwan.

The J-16 is the first fighter that can carry a full range of Chinese-made weapons such as anti-ship missiles, air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface cruise missiles, satellite-guided smart bombs, and electronics countermeasures (ECM).

China’s new fighter can perform a variety of missions, such as air superiority, ground attack and ship destruction. The J-16 series applies the design mainly from the Su-30MKK fighter, but is equipped with a radar system and Chinese target tracking. The ability to refuel in the air helps it increase its combat radius, allowing it to perform attacks deep inside enemy territory.

China is also developing an electronic warfare variant J-16D, suspected to be copied from the US EA-18G Growler fighter. The J-16D wing-mounted electronic warfare equipment blocks are quite similar to the AN/ALQ-218 model on the EA-18G Growler. This is an electromagnetic sensor that can analyze frequencies and locate radio transmitters, thereby jamming and locking the target.

Some J-16s have already begun testing radars using AESA technology, but they are not yet available for mass adoption. The J-16 is considered to be the strongest copy today from the Russian Su-27/30 fighter, but observers say it still needs time to verify the performance of this fighter.

Although it is considered a very powerful fighter, it will be difficult for the J-16 to confront the Rafale fighter, which is slightly better in terms of weapon payload, electronic equipment, performance, especially them. proven strength in recent wars.

Rafale near Indo-China border
Rafale near Indo-China border

Rafale is a 4.5-generation fighter, equivalent to the Russian Su-35, the US F-15E and the European Typhoon. Although it is a medium fighter, it is capable of carrying up to 9.5 tons of weapons, 1.5 tons more than the Chinese J-16.


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