China’s J-16 fighter jet, widely considered a copycat of the Russian Su-30, is “much superior to other similar aircraft including the Su-30,” according to a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) pilot.
“In terms of performance, the J-16 is a superior to all types of aircraft I have flown. Speaking of the control capacity of the aircraft, the J-16 is a 3.5 generation plane with huge breakthroughs in radar and fire control systems in comparison with previous aircraft,” said Wang Songxi, a flying instructor at the People’s Liberation Army Northern Theater Command Air Force, during an interview with China Central Television (CCTV) on Tuesday.
Wang brags that the “J-16 has no flaws” because “it is equipped with many types of weapons and can operate under all weather conditions.”
The Su-30 started out as an internal development project in the Su-27 family by Sukhoi. Russian Su-27 air superiority fighters were purchased by China in the 1990s. The J-16 is a Su-30 derivative improved by replacing Russian subsystems with Chinese subsystems, and adding compatibility with Chinese weapons. It is now fitted with an AESA radar and is powered by Chinese Shenyang WS-10A engine. Weight is reduced through greater use of composite materials.
China has also developed an Electronic Warfare variant, the J-16D. It is equipped with wingtip EW pods; and an internal EW system replaces infrared search and track (IRST) and 30 mm cannon.
“There is a gap that makes the J-16 a generation more advanced than the Su-30,” Wang notes.
He also says that the J-16 has an upper hand even over the single-seat, single-engine J-10C since it is powered by two engines and is flown by two pilots.
Wang said he once had a chance to fly the JL-10 trainer jet and conduct ground attack exercise with rocket projectiles with remarkable results. When compared with the JL-10, the J-16’s land attack capability is even stronger, Wang said.
The J-16 has reportedly been improved for better stealth capability. It is now being coated in silver-gray radar-absorbent paint, making it less visible to the naked eye and electromagnetic devices.
Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times that the aerodynamic design of the J-16 stresses maneuverability rather than stealth but the coating can make it more difficult to detect.