China will Make its Airshow Debut with the J-16D E/W Aircraft
China Central Television (CCTV) reports that a J-16D aircraft arrived in the southern city of Zhuhai on Tuesday in preparation for display at the show. China’s Zhuhai Airshow 2021 will open next week. The J-16D has been parked at the Guangdong Province Airshow’s static display area.
The J-16D’s images reveal several differences from the standard J-16, the most noticeable being a pair of pods mounted on its wingtips.
These are believed to perform a similar function to the Northrop-Grumman AN/ALQ-218 on the U.S. Navy’s Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, a passive, high-performance signals intelligence sensor system used to detect, identifying, locating and analysing sources of radiofrequency emissions.
Other notable differences from the J-16 include a noticeably shorter nose radome, implying a smaller radar, the absence of the cannon mounted on the right side of the fuselage, and the removal of an infrared search and track system on the front of the canopy.
The J-16D in Zhuhai is stencilled with 0109 on the side of its engine intakes, indicating that it is the ninth aircraft from the initial production batch. It is marked with toned-down PLAAF markings but lacks tail numbers, rendering it impossible to determine its unit assignment.
Additionally, the aircraft has been fitted with four of what appear to be at least three distinct types of standoff jammer pods on external stores hardpoints beneath both engine intakes and wings in preparation for the Airshow.
The twin-seat J-16D is based on the J-16 multirole strike fighter, which is based on the J-11B interceptor and the Russian Sukhoi Su-30MK-series, both of which can be traced back to the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker interceptor.