90 percent of the J-11’s components were indigenously made, the airframe was nearly identical.

To achieve its ambition to build a world-class military, China has acquired or stolen many foreign technologies to make its own weapons, including fighters. This allows China to bypass the research and development phase that costs time and money and still possesses a “world-class” air force.

When the Soviet Union was in crisis in the late 1980s, China took the opportunity to buy the Sukhoi Su-27 fighter production line, which was developed to deal with American jet fighters such as the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. Su-27 possesses modern avionics and control system, completely different from old Chinese fighters. Moscow initially only wanted to sell the design of the MiG fighter to Beijing, but economic difficulties forced them to transfer the Su-27 line. China quickly installed its own Su-27 production line, then improved the original design of the Su-27 and released the Shenyang J-11 fighter.

Shenyang J-11
Shenyang J-11

90 percent of the J-11’s components were indigenously made, the airframe was nearly identical. In fact, many aspects of the J-11B are modernized and uniquely Chinese: the pilot displays and the “glass cockpit,” the on-board oxygenator, and the optical Missile Approach Warning System are all new. The older Russian N001E radar was replaced with a Chinese Type 1493 pulse-Doppler, which can reportedly detect fighters at a range of over ninety miles and surface warships at over two hundred. The airframe itself is made with lighter composite materials.

The J-11B is also adapted to fire Chinese missiles and munitions—namely, the short-range PL-8 infrared guided missile, and the long-range PL-12 radar-guided missile. A wide range of Chinese-made air-to-ground munitions, including antiradar missiles, laser-guided bombs and glide bombs, are supported. The Russian GSh-30 thirty-millimeter cannon is retained, however.

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