"TAIPEI — In an unusual departure for mainland Chinese-language media, the Beijing-based Sina Military Network (SMN) criticized the capabilities of the carrier-borne J-15 Flying Shark as nothing more than a “flopping fish.”
On Sept. 22, the state-controlled China Daily Times reported the new aircraft carrier Liaoning had just finished a three-month voyage and conducted over 100 sorties of “various aircraft,” of which the J-15 “took off and landed on the carrier with maximum load and various weapons.” This report was also carried on the official Liberation Army Daily.
Contradicting any report by official military or government media is unusual in China given state control of the media.
What sounded more like a rant than analysis, SMN, on Sept. 23, reported the new J-15 was incapable of flying from the Liaoning with heavy weapons, “effectively crippling its attack range and firepower.”
The fighter can take off and land on the carrier with two YJ-83K anti-ship missiles, two PL-8 air-to-air missiles, and four 500-kilogram bombs. But a weapons “load exceeding 12 tons will not get it off the carrier’s ski jump ramp.” This might prohibit it from carrying heavier munitions such as PL-12 medium-range air-to-air missiles.
To further complicate things, the J-15 can carry only two tons of weapons while fully fueled. “This would equip it with no more than two YJ-83K and two PL-8 missiles,” thus the “range of the YJ-83K prepared for the fighter will be shorter than comparable YJ-83K missiles launched from larger PLAN [People’s Liberation Army Navy] vessels. The J-15 will be boxed into less than 120 [kilometers] of attack range.”
Sounds like the Chinese soon will order a few MiG29K, then copy and build 100 more..