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Chinese air power – analysing the bigger picture

14th September 2023 - 15:15 GMT | by Edward Hunt in London


Above: The J-16, based on the Russian Su-27, remains the backbone of China’s fighter fleet. (Photo: Chinese MoD)

Admitted by the US to be a ‘pacing threat’, the development of Chinese air power will continue to be a core measure of Beijing’s military capability.

While gaining the most attention, China's fighter aircraft alone remain only a part of the massive expansion under way. Advanced C4I, EW, UAS and cyber assets, a powerful A2/AD capability and long-range missiles, to which some assign almost supernatural powers, are all part of this modern ‘kill network’.

How is China's combat aircraft fleet structured?

Crewed aircraft, particularly fast jets, have been well documented. The J-16 is the latest in a long line of Su-27 derivatives, succeeding the less capable J-11 as the backbone of the fighter force. Combined with the PL-12, -15 and -21 long-range missiles, an AESA radar

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Edward Hunt


Edward Hunt

Edward has worked in the aerospace and defence Industry since 2005, initially for Jane’s and then …

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