Military Review

Interference and rockets. Electronic warfare aircraft Shenyang J-16D (China)


Fighter J-16. Photo Airwar, ru

In the interests of the People’s Liberation Army of China, a number of specialized aviation technicians, including electronic warfare aircraft. In recent years, several such samples have become known. One of the newest is the Shenyang J-16D aircraft, made on the basis of a 4th generation serial fighter.

From fighter to electronic warfare

As the basis for the promising EW aircraft, the serial fighter J-16 manufactured by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation was used. This aircraft is officially called the development option of the Chinese J-11BS, which compares favorably with a number of characteristics. According to various data and estimates, the creation of the J-16 could not do without Russian experience - the Su-30MKK aircraft was one of the sources of solutions and components.

The first flight of the experimental J-16 in the initial configuration took place in mid-2012. Already in 2013, Shenyang Corporation launched mass production, and in the spring of next year, the PLA Air Force received the first regiment set of aircraft. To date, at least 130-140 J-16 aircraft have been built.

According to the well-known data, in the basic version, the J-16 two-seat multi-role fighter has special equipment that allows it to counter the enemy’s electronic weapons. However, it was considered insufficient to solve some of the tasks, as a result of which the project of a specialized electronic warfare aircraft was launched.

Special sample

A new modification of the fighter received the index J-16D. The first flight of such an aircraft took place on December 18, 2015. Soon, some data about the project were published, as well as a number of photos of the experimental aircraft. Despite the limited amount of available materials, it is possible to evaluate some features of the Chinese project and present its approximate prospects.

Experienced J-16D in the early stages of testing. Photo

In its design, the J-16D is as similar as possible to a base aircraft, but it has some noticeable differences. Changed the shape of the nose cone; it has become shorter and has a different surface curvature. Behind the fairing, in front of the lantern, there is no optoelectronic station characteristic of all aircraft of the Su-27 family. The built-in gun disappeared from the influx of the wing.

At the wingtips there were large containers of equipment that could be unambiguously identified as EW systems. Also, before painting, the plane clearly shows individual sections of the skin, under which antenna devices or other equipment characteristic of electronic warfare aircraft can be hidden.

Later, new photos of the J-16D aircraft appeared in the public domain. They show that special equipment is mounted not only on the wingtips. If necessary, the aircraft can carry a hanging container with equipment under the fuselage or under the wing.

It is known that the J-16 fighter received a new Chinese-made radar equipped with an active phased antenna array. Probably, its specialized version retains such equipment, however, the use of a new fairing may indicate the processing of the radar complex.

The main differences from the base sample are noticeable. Photo

The wingtips, most likely, are part of the standard equipment of the aircraft. They contain electronic intelligence to detect radiation from other electronic systems and jamming stations. In foreign publications, J-16D containers are often compared with AN / ALQ-218 products used on American aircraft.

Established EW aircraft can be supplemented by hanging containers of a similar purpose. Due to this, the J-16D can simultaneously carry and use different tools that work in different ranges and optimized for different tasks.

It is obvious that the restructuring and addition of the avionics complex to solve special problems affected the equipment of the cabin. The workplace of the pilot-operator should now provide control and management of electronic warfare equipment. Also, the operator must work with the radar and, possibly, with weapons.

Electronics Fighter

EW Shenyang J-16D aircraft is built on the basis of the existing model, which indicates its flight performance. J-16 is a multi-role fighter with a maximum speed of M = 2,4 and a combat radius of 1500 km. It is unlikely that a specialized J-16D in its flight data is significantly different from the base fighter.

Thanks to the existing radar, the new EW aircraft, like the original J-16, is able to monitor the air and ground conditions - however, the data collected is used differently. Using other products from the avionics, the aircraft should identify sources of radiation in the form of enemy electronic systems and “jam” them with interference. Unfortunately, the exact characteristics of the airborne and overhead systems of electronic warfare remain unknown.

Special equipment is placed both on the wingtips and on the pylons. Photo

In the foreign press, it has been suggested that some of the shock capabilities remain. So, even with the installation of several hanging EW containers, the J-16D aircraft retains free suspension components and a certain load capacity. This can be used to carry and use different types of anti-radar missiles.

The PLA Air Force and Navy are armed with several anti-radar aircraft missiles, both of their own design and of copies of Soviet / Russian products. Such missiles are designed to destroy air, ground and surface targets. All like that weapon can be used by modern fighters, including J-16. Whether the EW J-16D aircraft can carry such weapons is not known. However, according to various estimates, the presence of such capabilities would seriously increase the potential of this machine.

Uncertain Future

The Shenyang J-16 multirole fighter has already gone into production and is being operated by the PLA Air Force. The current status of its specialized modification equipped with electronic warfare equipment is unclear. New messages about the J-16D project did not appear long ago, but at the time of the last News the aircraft was in the testing phase.

A lot of time has passed since the first flight, and this suggests that the project is approaching the stage of launching the series and adopting it. In addition, it cannot be ruled out that the J-16D had already begun service, but this was not reported due to the characteristic Chinese approach to secrecy.

Experienced J-15D aircraft for Navy carrier-based aviation. Photo by

In service, the new J-16D will serve at ground airfields and provide the combat work of other aircraft, including J-16 of the original modification. EW aircraft will be able to accompany fighter-bombers, identify threats and fight them with the help of interference or anti-radar interference. In view of the special role, such a technique will not be numerous. The total release will not exceed several dozen units.

For the Air Force, but not for the Navy

It is unlikely that the J-16D will go into service with the Navy. In the interests of naval aviation, a specialized aircraft based on the J-15 carrier-based fighter is currently being developed. The J-15D took off for the first time in 2016 and is still being tested. When these aircraft will be able to replenish the deck aircraft of the PLA Navy - is unknown.

Available photographs show that the J-15D differs from the original J-15 in much the same way as the J-16D from the base sample. A different radar radome was used, there was no gun and OLS, and new containers appeared on the wing. Perhaps two EW aircraft are unified according to the main systems.

In the relevant foreign media there is a version about the possible development of a deck modification of the "land" fighter J-16. In this regard, an assumption is made about the possible transfer of developments on avionics in the field of carrier-based aviation. However, such ideas do not look necessary and promising. A J-15 fighter with all the necessary features has already been created for the Navy, and an electronic warfare aircraft is being developed on its basis.

Thus, the approximate prospects of the J-16D project are already clear. In the near future, a specialized electronic warfare aircraft will have to go into service with the PLA air force and provide increased tactical combat effectiveness. We should also expect the early appearance of EW carrier-based carrier-based aircraft based on the J-15 fighter. This means that the PLA command is well aware of the importance of electronic systems and means of dealing with them. Accordingly, measures are being taken to develop both of these areas, and the J-16D is one of the most important developments in this context.
31 comment

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  1. Aerodrome
    Aerodrome 13 March 2020 18: 04

    Available photographs show that the J-15D differs from the original J-15 in much the same way as the J-16D from the base sample. A different radar radome is used, there is no gun and OLS,
    Now let the problems with the gun be solved, for starters. Ours did not immediately succeed.
  2. Narak-zempo
    Narak-zempo 13 March 2020 19: 09
    Another seamless Russian plane under a Chinese label.
    1. Grigory_45
      Grigory_45 13 March 2020 20: 38
      Quote: Narak-zempo
      Another seamless Russian plane under a Chinese label.

      it cannot be called seamless. A slightly modified glider, a different avionics, radar with AFAR and an expanded range of weapons. Rather, it is a creative revision of the Su-27UB / Su-30. Yes, and we do not have a specialized EW aircraft based on the Su-27/30/35 (hanging containers provide only individual protection), you can adapt it to those functions of the Su-34)
      1. ZEMCH
        ZEMCH 3 October 2020 14: 05
        Quote: Gregory_45
        can be adapted to those functions of the Su-34

        In this function, the Su-34 was used to enforce peace on 08.08.08. And he showed himself well)))
  3. Avior
    Avior 13 March 2020 20: 03
    In appearance, the American Growler EW equipment is noticeably larger
    1. TermNachTer
      TermNachTer 13 March 2020 20: 32
      An attempt to make an electronic warfare aircraft from a carrier-based fighter-attack aircraft is hardly reasonable? Previously, the mattresses had a specialized electronic warfare aircraft. The correctness or fallacy of such a step can only be shown by a collision with a strong opponent.
      1. Avior
        Avior 13 March 2020 20: 46
        Are you about growler?
        More than reasonable
        Previous American Deck Subsonic EW Prowler
        was also on the same principle, based on the A-6 Intruder attack aircraft.
        Unlike him, Groler can operate in the same order as supersonic attack aircraft.
        1. TermNachTer
          TermNachTer 13 March 2020 21: 11
          I agree that the base, but the alterations were very extensive. Including the glider, and on F - 18 their minimum. The only plus is supersonic, the ability to go in battle formations of covered vehicles.
      2. Grigory_45
        Grigory_45 13 March 2020 20: 53
        Quote: TermNachTER
        Previously, the mattresses had a specialized electronic warfare aircraft.

        Raven or Prowler - which one? ECA-3 Skyworior, EP-3E Aries II or EB-66 Destroyer?
        By the way, the EF-111 carried Harma. Prowler, too.

        Quote: TermNachTER
        to make an EW airplane from a carrier-based fighter-attack aircraft is hardly reasonable?

        why not? Modern equipment no longer needs the volumes and carrying capacity of the 747th Boeing, everything is placed in hanging containers.
        1. TermNachTer
          TermNachTer 13 March 2020 21: 11
          What prevents the container from hanging under the usual F - 18?
          1. Avior
            Avior 13 March 2020 21: 30
            Need a reb operator and hanging container management
            We need the appropriate slots on the suspension points - the usual f-18 is not provided
            1. TermNachTer
              TermNachTer 13 March 2020 22: 24
              Can't you replace the on-board computer of an electronic warfare operator to a certain extent? Moreover, the participation of the "growler" in a battle of the "dog dump" type is not provided.
              1. Avior
                Avior 13 March 2020 22: 50
                No, that won't work
                Some of the equipment and antennas are already in the grower housing, and some are placed in containers, some of them can be removable
                But just hang the containers on the super horn; the growler will not work
                I think that without the participation of the operator, the quality of electronic warfare will deteriorate.
          2. Grigory_45
            Grigory_45 13 March 2020 21: 45
            Quote: TermNachTER
            What prevents the container from hanging under the usual F - 18?

            EW aircraft - this is not a simple jammer. In essence, the interference transmitters are made in a container version. And the glider had to be stuffed with various antennas - the REB aircraft should interfere in a very wide frequency range, from HF / VHF to cell phones and microwave, and stations with different signal modulation - and specialized avionics (radio frequency scanning equipment, signal processing and control of jamming generators, communication systems, etc.). As well as slightly redo the suspension units (for integration with containers) Otherwise, Groler is similar to Hornet. The cannon was lost (equipment instead), but retained part of the strike capabilities (destruction of the radar) and can conduct air combat (using explosives)
            The Chinese probably have something similar.

            I think it’s still difficult to fit all the equipment into containers because the elemental base — after all, there are more than two dozen different antennas on the plane.

            If you do not need powerful group protection, then they cost a hanging container - as on the Su-30, Su-34, F-16, etc.

            Although, my personal opinion, it is not worth it to focus on containers only. It is better to have a specialized aircraft. Containers worsen the performance characteristics of the apparatus, and visibility too.
            1. TermNachTer
              TermNachTer 13 March 2020 22: 22
              Here I am, about the same. Versatility is good until a certain point, and then specialization is better. F - 18 is not bad enough as a fighter - attack aircraft, although not without flaws. ED and the requirements for these types of these types of machines are quite opposite. But also "sculpting" electronic warfare from it is not "gut". Unless just as a temporary solution.
            2. Avior
              Avior 13 March 2020 22: 52
              On f-35 electronic warfare is already integrated into the aircraft and partially combined with the radar, but Groler has much more possibilities
              1. Hexenmeister
                Hexenmeister 16 March 2020 09: 59
                Well, the Chinese may well use AFAR in the nose completely for radio countermeasures, since the aircraft is specialized, and when other functions are required from it, use containers "a la Sorption" at the wing ends to protect at least itself.
                1. Avior
                  Avior 16 March 2020 10: 08
                  Not all radar with AFAR can work in electronic warfare mode
                  1. Hexenmeister
                    Hexenmeister 16 March 2020 10: 35
                    And then the radar? Just the same antenna will be used by two different systems, for example, sequentially, the percentage distribution depending on the task and situation.
                    1. Avior
                      Avior 16 March 2020 10: 57
                      so look and try, where what you write is really used.
                      1. Hexenmeister
                        Hexenmeister 16 March 2020 11: 05
                        Do you think the Chinese will write what they did in reality? You will not even find in the public domain a description of specific actions, which may or may not, and for older systems.
                      2. Avior
                        Avior 16 March 2020 11: 08
                        if for new there is, why not for old?

                        so for new do not hide the existence of such electronic warfare
                        and why only the Chinese?
                        Radar with afar not only they have
                      3. Hexenmeister
                        Hexenmeister 16 March 2020 11: 17
                        Not to hide the existence of the electronic warfare system is one thing, but to reveal the details of its functioning is another. Stories (fairy tales) about the "distortion" of signals or distracting interference, I personally do not interest.
                      4. Avior
                        Avior 16 March 2020 11: 19
                        so try to find out about the existence of electronic warfare systems in radar systems and look at which ones are and which don't.
                      5. Hexenmeister
                        Hexenmeister 16 March 2020 11: 30
                        Well, we read:
                        The transmitting devices of the active jamming equipment of the Khibiny REP complex are built on the basis of high power active antenna arrays

                        What prevents instead of the "small" antenna of the container FULLY using the normal antenna (AFAR) in the nose? Nothing gets in the way!
  4. Pavel57
    Pavel57 13 March 2020 20: 22
    And did they sell radio countermeasures to China?
  5. Grigory_45
    Grigory_45 13 March 2020 20: 42
    J-16D is a Chinese growler. Therefore, the message of the afftor is not very clear
    The PLA Air Force and Navy are armed with several anti-radar aircraft missiles .... Whether the E-J-16D aircraft can carry such weapons is not known.

    EA-18G Growler - can. On the Su-34, even hanging EW containers, there are still 8 nodes under the missiles. In general, it would be very foolish not to give the EW aircraft armaments, especially to an aircraft created on the basis of a fighter.
    Not 8 tons is the Chinese electronic warfare system? ..)
    1. Avior
      Avior 13 March 2020 21: 42
      There are doubts
      You can see the possible analogs of the antennas on the ends of the wing of the alkyu218, but you can not see the possible analogs of the main containers for suppressing the alkyu99, and there including energy generators, by the way
      If, on the wingtips, there is completely complete reb, then the Chinese are still far from the number and power of electronic warfare to growler
  6. Legat_01
    Legat_01 14 March 2020 20: 20
    With all due respect to the Chinese, their copying of different versions of the Su-27 is already pretty boring, to say the least. And now I’m not even talking specifically about this electronic warfare aircraft: from a purely conceptual perspective, it’s rather an analogue of the EA-18G Growler.
  7. Maxim BY
    Maxim BY 22 March 2020 18: 40
    Well done Chinese. Now they have their own growler. As always, we smoke aside
  8. _Ugene_
    _Ugene_ April 6 2020 22: 10
    Unfortunately, the exact characteristics of the airborne and overhead electronic warfare systems remain unknown.

    Actually all the contents of the article in this sentence, everything else is water