According to an article in the Want China Times; “China’s first mass production J-16 fighter/bomber conducted its first test flight recently, reports the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po, citing a photo revealed on a Chinese military enthusiast website”.
Western military analysts believe that China has devoted massive resources to developing precision attack capability for its air force. Unlike the J-11, which was mainly designed for aerial combat, the J-16 can now carry munitions and missiles for ground attack missions. The fighter/bomber is designed to carry more ground attack munitions than any other type of fighter in China.
In addition, the J-16 is also equipped with active electronically scanned array radar and a helmet mounted display and sight system. This new fighter-bomber is likely to fill a gap between China’s fourth-generation fighter and fifth-generation stealth fighters in the future, the paper said.
China and Russia in 1999 worked together to upgrade the dual-seat Russian-made Su-30MKK fighters which gave rise to the Su-30MK2. At the same time, the PLA took delivery of nearly 100 Su-30MK2 jets directly from Russia to equip its air force and navy. The Su-30MK2, a 34-tonne fighter-bomber, fills a very similar role to the F-15E Strike Eagle in the US Air Force.Using the Su-30MK2 as its blueprint, China hopes to make its J-16 the fulcrum of its naval fighter force. This is one of many examples of China reverse engineering Russian technology. The Russian Su-27, for example, was redesigned by Chinese engineers as the J-11 fighter and brought into service despite Russian warnings and protests. By acquiring a Su-33 prototype from Ukraine, China also designed its first carrier-based fighter, the J-15. Below, video of China’s newest fighter aircraft entering into service, the Shenyang J-16: