Well, folks I have it to give the ChiComms, they sure know how to deal with labor unions. Defense News reports that the head of the Taiwanese spy agency, Tsai Teh-sheng claims that the Chinese carrier Varyag will be operational by the end of this year. This a very disturbing development for every nation around the Pacific rim because prior to this Chinese air power was limited to the immediate area, now the Chinese will have the ability to project air power throughout the Pacific Ocean.
Tsai Teh-sheng claims are further supported by the fact the China's copy of the Su-33 has just been revealed. This new fighter has received the designation J-15 "Flying Shark" and, is probably going to constitute the core of the Varyag's air wing. Not much about the J-15 is known at the moment except, that it probably has the usual equipment used by carrier aircraft, strengthened landing gear, longer range and possibly better engines. The possibility that the J-15 has better engines than a normal Su-27 as the Su-33 is the carrier version, is highly unlikely because the Chinese have had trouble producing a good indigenous engine for use in fighter aircraft, usually opting to purchase engines from the Russians and copy them either under license or illegally.
While the J-15 is a step forward for the Chinese military, the J-15 is not likely to be able to compare with the Super Hornet now in service in the U.S. Navy due to fact that Chinese pilots have had no real air-to-air combat experience since the confrontation with Taiwan in the Second Taiwan Straight Crisis in 1958. Aviation Week also reports that the J-15 is comparable with a F/A-18C which is now being replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
All in all the J-15 is a step forward for the Chinese but, if push comes to shove between the U.S. and China, I don't believe the J-15 or the surface forces of the Chinese Navy are going to be a serious threat. However, as I said the Chinese surface forces won't be a "serious" threat but, they will be a threat worth keeping an eye on.
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