25 June 2011

Feng, Information Dissemination: “Is J-15 a Game Changer?”

Feng,Is J-15 a Game Changer? Information Dissemination, 25 June 2011.

I often see articles on the web warning of the impending Chinese naval power and the impact on American’s naval dominance. I find most of them to be badly written and low on facts. However, there are some authors how have followed PLAN for a long time and write some really good stuff. Andrew Erickson is one of the few PLA followers that I truly respect. His latest article with Gabe Collins on the J-15 program is another quality piece of work. I would recommend all PLAN followers to read it.

The authors did a good job of going over all of the potential problems associated with operating J-15 on a STOBAR carrier like Varyag. They brought up the reduced maximum take-off weight of J-15 vs land based flankers. They brought up how US carrier groups can make use of USAF tankers from forward base points to extend the range of USN air wing, but this option is not available to PLAN in the foreseeable future. … I think the following lines sums up the entire article perfectly.

The J-15’s emergence offers potential capabilities that are noteworthy because China is starting from such a low baseline in naval aviation that virtually any progress could make a big difference.

For these reasons, Chinese ski jump carriers simply cannot be used in any of the combat roles that U.S. Navy carriers have performed.

I think most of us would agree with the assessment that J-15 on Varyag does not represent any kind of game changing capability, but rather the most obvious option for PLAN to start off. Varyag was not designed for the same kind of missions that PLAN has in mind for future carrier groups. …