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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Flopping Fish: China’s failed attempt to Copy Russian Aircraft without Permission

China’s attempt to copy Russian aircraft Su-33 by reverse-engineering the jet to create its own J-15 has resulted in a series of disasters, as numerous of these jets have crashed and burned down.

We all remember the story about China copying a Russia carrier-based jet without obtaining permission. Now those airplanes are crashing, and Russia is not the least bit bothered.

Russia and China have succeeded in establishing cordial relations over the last few years, to the extent of holding joint military exercises. Sputnik News, Russia’s leading news platform, recently published an article, titled “Chinese Navy Short on Carrier-Based Fighters, Only Has Problem-Ridden J-15.”

Woes of the J-15

China’s J-15 is an unlicensed clone of Russia’s Su-33 carrier-based aircraft, which happens to be a 1980s version of the Su-27K land-based fighter. China had procured a T-10K-3, a prototype of the Su-33, from Ukraine. Chinese engineers then reverse-engineered the aircraft to give birth to their own, J-15.

The Russia news site explored the challenges of the J-15, claiming that the fourth-generation J-15 jet never enjoyed much popularity in Chinese circles. Sputnik News observed that the Chinese media has criticized the aircraft in multiple fashions, including terming it as a “flopping fish” due to its inability to perform efficiently from the Chinese carriers, which are equipped to launch fixed-wing aircrafts using their own power from an inclined ramp, located on the bow of the carrier.

The Russian news platform stated, “The J-15’s engines and heavyweight severely limit its ability to operate effectively: at 17.5 tons empty weight, it tops the scales for carrier-based fighters. The US Navy’s F-18 workhorse, by comparison, is only 14.5 tons.”

Years ago the Chinese decided to save some money and, instead of buying several Su-33s from Russia for their subsequent license production in China, they opted for a Su-33 prototype in Ukraine.

Buying unlicensed products carries a detrimental risk of wasting money and the disappointment of a useless product. Opinion makers believe that China’s unlicensed copy of the Russian aircraft has resulted in nothing but losses and damages. The Russian-copied J-15s have crashed and blown up on numerous occasions, compelling China to develop a new carrier aircraft, the J-31.

Upon highlighting the many defects in the J-15, Sputnik News brought in Russian military expert, Vasily Kashin, to explain the repercussions of copying the design of another country’s aircraft without obtaining permission.

Kashin explained, “Years ago the Chinese decided to save some money and, instead of buying several Su-33s from Russia for their subsequent license production in China, they opted for a Su-33 prototype in Ukraine.”

The Russian military expert added, “The development of the J-15 took more time and more money than expected, and the first planes proved less than reliable. By spending some more time and money, the Chinese will apparently solve the problems they now have and will get a fairly reliable and powerful carrier-based fighter.”

Read more: Russia starts the largest military exercise with China but why now?

However, it is important to note that while Russia reserves the right to protest the copying of its aircraft without permission, during and after the Cold War, former USSR had a knack of “acquiring” and mimicking Western technology without obtaining permission. Russia’s copied Western technological ventures include the atomic bomb, space shuttle, arms and armament developments, video games and a lot more. The same habit has also been observed throughout China’s rise as a great economic and military power.