The J-11D air superiority fighter. (Internet photo)
China's acquisition of Su-35 supermaneuverable multirole fighters from Russia is necessary despite the development of the J-11D air superiority fighter, writes the Beijing-based Sina Military Network.
The J-11D, an upgraded version of the J-11B, conducted its maiden flight on April 29, just as China is preparing to receive its first batch of 24 Su-35 aircraft from Russia.
The J-11D is equipped with active electronically scanned array radar technology currently being tested in the J-10C and has a mid-air refueling pipe. The aircraft also has different wingtip pylons to the basic J-11 model and the J-11B, which analysts believe will be to equip the new PL-10 high-mobility combat missile and add additional decoys. In addition, the J-11D will install a new digital fly-by-wire flight control system that is considered an upgrade from the J-11B's system that was modeled after that of the Russian Su-27SK.
Sina Military said both the J-11D and the Su-35s are important for China to maintain a strong military presence in its three key strategic regions: the country's southeast coast, the South China Sea and the China-India border.
The Su-35 is necessary because it bridges the gap in the People's Liberation Army Air Force prior to the introduction of China's new fifth-generation fighter jets, the report said, adding that without Su-35s China would need to figure out how it would go up against Japan's F-35s and India's Su-30MKI and T-50 aircraft. Even if the manufacture of the J-11 can be increased to two a month, the numbers would still be insufficient, not to mention it remains unclear whether the J-11 is technically advanced enough to take on fifth-generation fighters, the report said.
India's Su-30MKI is regarded as more versatile and is significantly better than the J-11 at close and super-close range combat, as well as air-to-land and air-to-sea attacks. The Su-30MKI was designed not only with the J-11D in mind, but also the Chinese and Pakistani air forces' J-10B, F16 and J-11B. Individually, the Su-30MKI might be superior to each of those jets, but together they are sufficient to take on the threat the Indian fighter presents.
Various sources indicate that in 2014, China only manufactured around 10 J-11B/BS fighters, which is clearly too slow, particularly given that the J-16, leaked four years ago, has still not entered into production. While the J-11D is an advanced version of the J-11B, analysts point out that it is still a J-11 model and cannot possibly match the supermaneuverable multirole capabilities of the Su-35.
The Su-35 has an internal fuel capacity 11.5 tons compared to the J-11D's nine tons, meaning it would be more suited to surveillance missions in the South China Sea. It is also more structurally advanced with a durability of 6,000 service hours and superior maximum take-off, flight and landing weights. The J-11D's structure, however, remains limited by the design of the original J-11.
Accordingly, the Su-35 is very important to the development of China's aviation industry and its value is more than just that of a fourth-generation fighter, Sina Military said, especially as it will include the acquisition of the Irbis-E advanced multi-mode, hybrid passive electronically scanned array radar system.
China simply cannot wait another five or 10 years for next-generation aircraft to emerge, and the Su-35 does the job in boosting the PLA's air defense capabilities and at least gives China an aircraft that can take on the F35. The J-11D is to take on current enemies, while the Su-35 is for the future because it can help speed up China's development of multirole fighters, Sina Military said.
PLA needs both J-11D and Su-35 fighters: Sina Military｜WantChinaTimes.com