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China Unveils J-15D, a Carrier-Based Electronic Warfare Aircraft

China’s state media CCTV recently named and reported on the J-15D electronic warfare aircraft. The new aircraft is based on the Chinese J-15 carrier-based fighter jet. The J-15D is still in testing, and it is expected to appear on the deck of China’s Fujian aircraft carrier in the near future. It is unclear if mass production is planned.

Prior to the unveiling of the J-15D, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army only had one very expensive electronic warfare aircraft, the J-16D. As there is no carrier-based version of the J-16, China’s aircraft carriers lacked an electronic warfare aircraft.

According to footage from CCTV and China Global Television Network, the carrier-based J-15D is equipped with a weapons system similar to the J-16D. Promoted as a fighter jet combined with an electronic warfare aircraft concept, the heavy-duty twin-engine J-15D can carry more air-to-air and air-to-sea/ground munitions than the J-35, serving more of a multipurpose role.

The CCTV report quoted Tencent as stating that the main reason why the Chinese navy chose the J-15 as the base for developing this new electronic warfare aircraft was that the J-15 has mature aircraft carrier capabilities, suitable for integrating electronic warfare capabilities with aircraft carriers.

As the J-15D relies on its own power, it may struggle when taking off from the ski-jump decks of the Liaoning and Shandong carriers. For this reason, analysts suggest that the Fujian carrier, which has an electromagnetic launch system, will be a more suitable host for the J-15D.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), March 31, 2024