No match for a U.S. Hornet: “China’s Navy J-15 more a flopping fish than a flying shark” Chinese media say

Even if some analysts compared it to the F/A-18 Hornet, the Shenyang J-15 “Flying Shark” may not be the powerful and deadly threat to the U.S. Navy Air Power in the Pacific.

Indeed, in spite of the recent claims that it had succesfully achieved full-load take off and landing on the Liaoning aircraft carrier, the China’s embarked plane may not be able to operate from Beijing’s first supercarrier.

According to the Sina Military Network, that has (weirdly) criticized the Flying Shark calling it a “flopping fish”, the recent tests with heavy weapons have limited the attack range of the J-15 to a distance of 120 kilometers from the carrier: whilst it is said to be capable to carry 12 tons of weapons, when the aircraft is fully loaded with fuel, it can’t carry more than 2 tons of missiles and munitions, meaning that only two YJ-83K anti-ship missiles and two PL-8 air-to-air missiles could be carried (in an anti-ship configuration).

People’s Liberation Army Navy’s next generation carriers will have electromagnetic catapults that will safely launch heavy J-15s. The problem is the ski-jump ramp of the current, only PLA Navy aircraft carrier, that makes take off of aircraft exceeding 26 tons of total weight extremely difficult unless you have a more powerful aircraft, as the Mig-29K.

That’s why a lone Soviet aircraft carrier with ski-jump is no match for a U.S. flattop. And a J-15 carrying only handful of medium and short range air-to-air missiles in air defense configuration to be able to launch for Liaoning would probably be no match for U.S. carrier-based F/A-18E/F Hornet.

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. If the numbers are really this stark then it just goes to show the nature of the decision to go forward with the combination of Kuznetzev class with the J-15. I’ve met some Russians who said that the J-15 was an excellent copy of the Su-33, and I’ve also heard from other’s that the copy was less than perfect and some structural members were having issues. If so we should see some real underperformance come of the J-15 on CV’s. Has anyone seen any references to any other fixed wing aircraft China is getting ready to operate off flatops?

    • FN has asked to comment on the J-31. For some reason they put the J-15 (and the F-117?) in the equation…..

      • I figured Fox got it wrong! Unlike you (and probably most of your readers), their reporters are not aviation specialists. Unless someone is, aircraft recognition and facts associated with them can be confusing. Perhaps you can re-contact them and give them some help in correcting their story!

  2. the new us carrier use those electromagnetic catapults. But I doubt that the chinese carrier can compete, because they have barely experience…

    And to be honest, I also doubt that china/russia and USA/Europe will have any military conflict in the next 20 / 30 years…

  3. The J-15 is a knock off of the SU-30/33. IT lacks the proper engines to produce a great thrust to weight ratio while maintaining a good fuel economy of about 2.5 gallons per minute. The should license some aircraft from the Russians.

    • It’s using FWS-10H turbofan engine on it’s maiden journey… then, later they used Russia-made Al-31 engines, they are still working to make better engines..

  4. Only unschooled, ignorant jingoists would claim China’s J-15 “no match for a U.S. Hornet.” The Pentagon has known since 1992 that Sukhoi Flankers can smear the F-15s (the so-called “high-end” in the teen-series) in close-range combat. Over the years the Su-27 has undergone several upgrades inside and outside of Russia. By putting an article with such a title on its website, the Aviationist has lost credibility.

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