China's J-11B fighter is not an F-22, but it is still dangerous

The configuration of China’s J-11B fighter favors air superiority, although it can also attack ground targets. The J-11B, although not comparable to the F-22, is a formidable fighter, crucial in Chinese military strategy in the Taiwan Strait.

Technical analysis of China’s J-11B fighter and its operations in the Taiwan Strait

The Shenyang J-11B, a variant of the  Russian Sukhoi Su-27SK, plays a significant role in Taiwan Strait tensions. Manufactured by  Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, this single-seat twin-engine fighter has carried out several raids, challenging Taiwan’s sovereignty. These actions have forced Taiwan to deploy its own fighters and activate ground-to-air defense systems.

The J-11B, nicknamed Flanker or Flanker B+, is a strategic asset in the arsenal of the  People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the Chinese Navy. Its versatility allows it to execute air superiority missions and attacks on ground targets. Comparatively, China positions it as a competitor to the American F-16 Fighting Falcon and F/A-18 Hornet. With approximately 200 units in service, its presence is notable.

Production of the J-11 began following a 1996 contract between  Shenyang and Sukhoi, although it faced significant challenges, including initial dissatisfaction from the military’s flying branch. The J-11B version, with Chinese avionics and armament, represents a significant technical evolution, including an advanced AESA radar system and an improved cockpit.

Combat capabilities and technical specifications of China’s J-11B fighter 

China's J-11B fighter is not an F-22, but it is still dangerous

The J-11B is distinguished by its advanced AESA radar, which improves its situational awareness and ability to detect targets at greater distances and angles. It is equipped to launch the PL-15 long-range air-to-air missile, extending its lethality in aerial combat. Its armament includes infrared and radar-guided air-to-air missiles capable of laser-guided or non-precision bombs.

The J-11B’s configuration favors air superiority but can also attack ground targets. It has defensive measures such as chaff and flares to counter enemy radar and missiles. Its armament includes a 30 mm cannon, in line with other modern fourth-generation fighters. The cockpit incorporates technologies such as helmet-mounted sights and color displays for better situational awareness.

AL-31F or FWS-10A Taihang engines power the J-11B, allowing it to reach speeds exceeding MACH 2 and a ceiling of 62,500 feet. Despite its capabilities, the J-11B does not reach the stealth level of fighters such as the F-22 or F-35, although its number and maneuverability, inherited from the Su-27, make it a significant threat to Taiwan.

Strategic impact of the China’s J-11B fighter on regional security and future operations
The J-11B is crucial in Chinese military strategy, especially regarding Taiwan. The frequency of its air raids in the Taiwan Strait and its ability to operate with other military assets, such as the J-10, H-6 and ground-based missile systems, poses a significant challenge to Taiwanese defenses.

China’s J-11B fighter’s ability to execute air superiority missions and strikes on ground targets will determine the region’s power dynamics in future operations. Although it lacks advanced stealth capabilities, its numbers and versatility make it a valuable asset to Chinese military operations.

Continued assessment of its capabilities and operational strategies is crucial to understanding the role of the J-11B in the regional military context and its potential impact on the security and stability of Taiwan and surrounding areas.


What is the role of the J-11B in China’s military strategy?

The J-11B, an advanced variant of the Su-27SK, is key to Chinese military strategy, especially in the Taiwan Strait. Skilled in air superiority and ground attack missions, it is a mainstay in People’s Liberation Army Air Force operations, challenging Taiwan’s sovereignty and bolstering its Chinese military presence.

How does the J-11B compare to American fighters?

Although not on par with the F-22 in terms of stealth, the J-11B positions itself as a competitor to fighters such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F/A-18 Hornet. Its ability to detect targets at long range and its advanced weaponry make it formidable in aerial combat and ground attacks.

What technical advances characterize the J-11B?

The J-11B stands out for its advanced AESA radar and modernized cockpit, which improve situational awareness and combat capability. It incorporates Chinese technology in avionics and weapons, including long-range air-to-air missiles and guided bombs, which represents a significant evolution compared to its previous versions.

What limitations does the J-11B have compared to stealth fighters?

Despite its advanced capabilities, the China’s J-11B fighter does not reach the stealth level of fighters like the F-22 or F-35. However, its speed, maneuverability and numbers make it a considerable threat, partly compensating for its lack of stealth capabilities.

What is the strategic impact of the J-11B in the region?

China’s J-11B fighter has a significant strategic impact on regional security, especially in relation to Taiwan. Its frequent incursions into the Taiwan Strait and its ability to operate alongside other Chinese military assets challenge Taiwanese defenses, being a key factor in regional power dynamics.