In this photo the J-15 is seen painted in light grey, as opposed to the yellow seen in previous pictures of take-off and landing tests. (Internet photo)
The Shenyang J-15, China's first carrier-based fighter designed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, has entered mass production and has been received by various units of the PLA Navy Air Force, the Beijing-based Sina Military Network reported on Dec. 3.
Citing a video clip released by Shenzhen Satellite Television, the Sina Military Network stated that the original yellow paint on the fuselage of J-15 had been replaced by light grey. In addition, a logo of a Flying Shark — a nickname for the aircraft — can be seen on the its tail. On the nose of four of the J-15 fighters shown by Shenzhen Satellite Television, serial numbers such as 101, 102, 103 and 104 can be seen clearly. This indicates that J-15s have officially started production.
The Sina Military Network estimates that the production of six or eight J-15 fighters has been completed recently while between six and seven aircraft are still being constructed. As China's only carrier-based fighter in service, the J-15 plays a crucial role in the PLA Navy's ambitions to develop the combat capability of its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which up to now was without any fighters.
Based on the Russian-built Sukhoi Su-33 carrier-based fighter, the J-15 is said to be only a transitional aircraft, before the PLA Navy receive its own fifth-generation stealth fighter which shares similar capabilities with China's Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang J-31. China has nine J-15 prototypes in total, seven of which are single-seater fighters. Flying the J-15 from the Liaoning will provide Chinese naval aviators with experience in anticipation of operating more advanced fighters aboard the aircraft carrier in future.