Chinese air force has been looking for a way to produce a counterpart to the fourth generation fighter jets, used by NATO countries. The first idea about developing a Soviet-like fighter emerged in late 70’s when Shenyang factory combined a light fighter design of the Soviet MiG-19 with a British Rolls-Royce Spey 512 engine. This project was known as the J-11, but eventually failed. However this idea was resurrected two decades later.
In the 1990s China signed an agreement with Russia, that allowed to build 200 Su-27SK aircraft from Russian-supplied kits. Production of the J-11 began in 1998. It made its maiden flight during the same year. However co-production of the basic J-11 was halted after around 100 aircraft were built. Later Chinese produces their indigenous version of this aircraft.
The J-11 is a twin-engine, single-seat air superiority fighter, based on the Sukhoi Su-27’s design. It has a Western reporting name Flanker B+. At the time of its introduction it was a fairly respectable fighter jet with Russian engines and weaponry. It was a noteworthy adversary to US-made aircraft, such as Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon or Boeing F/A-18 Hornet.
So far, there are 253 aircraft of various versions built and the production keeps on going. Produced in the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation in Northern China, all of the Shenyang J-11 aircraft, including the J-11A, J-11B, J-11BS, J-11D, J-15, and J-16 versions are used solely by Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force. It has never been exported.