The J-16D fighter jet made its debut at Airshow China 2021 which was held earlier this week, the fighter is considered to be China’s most advanced electronic warfare fighter jet.
All about the J-16D
To jam enemy radar along with eroding anti-aircraft systems, the jet was independently developed by China based on the previous-generation J-16 fighter.
Being equipped with two missiles under its belly, the J-16D is said to have four jamming pods under its wings and air inlets, along with two electronic warfare pods on the wingtips.
The new jet is also said to have been equipped with hardpoints under the plane to make it capable of carrying anti-radiation missiles (ARM) that can target hostile radar.
The J-16D is capable of effectively countering hostile advanced air defence systems of early warning, command and communications, interception and strike as well.
The earlier story
China had purchased the Sukhoi Su-27 air superiority fighters from Russia, including that license-produced in China as the Shenyang J-11A back in the 1990s. Later, the J-11A was enhanced into the J-11B and the J-16 was a strike aircraft that was originally derived from the J-11B while its initial versions were introduced to the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in 2013.
The J-16D is a modified variant of the J-16 which first flew in December 2015.
Mission specific modifications
It is expected that the aircraft will be deployed alongside Chinese warplanes to provide EW capabilities in support of offensive operations.
Developed for the very specific mission of jamming, neutralizing and destroying the enemy’s anti-aircraft defence capabilities, the rear cockpit of the jet was converted to house the operator of the complex onboard systems similar to that of the US Navy’s F/A-18G Growler.
While on the other hand, R&D into a new series of EW pods is being carried out by The US Navy as a part of its Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) program.
To neutralize different types of enemy radars and communication systems, The D variant of the Chinese jet is carrying various types of pods that are optimized for different frequency bands allowing a package of attacking aircraft for penetrating well-defended airspace in relative safety. Having more than one pod combined with an internal electronic warfare suite can effectively provide the J-16D with the ability to engage more emitters at once, while also scooping up other useful information.
The jet is also said to be linked to the J-15D which is a two-seat electronic warfare version of China’s carrier-based J-15 Flanker derivative.
The aerial electronic warfare supports can be certainly capabilities in bringing to bear in any said larger-scale conflict against prominent potential adversaries in the broader Indo-Pacific region, like India or even the United States for that case.