Ask anything Thread


Just Hatched
Registered Member
迷彩虎 has a YouTube channel, and I'd occasionally watch some of his stuff especially when I'm trying to get a feel for a topic I'm unfamiliar with before doing further browsing on the web.... While I wouldn't call him a fanboy, I wouldn't call him a credible source either - not as credible as Rick Joe, Denio, or Henri K anyway who are proven PLA watchers where their insight is actually backed by actual footage or citation from PLA/CMC documents.

Moreover I disagree with 迷彩虎's assessment. I can see two scenarios of how the J-16D is fielded onto front line units:
  1. The PLA I believe has three Special Mission Divisions, and I can see them fielding the J-16D into a couple dedicated electronic attack brigade/regiment... sorta like how the 93rd Air Brigade (or are they still a regiment? Denio correct me if I'm wrong here ahaha) operates the J-8FR (reconnaissance variant)
  2. A fighter squadron has 4 aircraft, two squadrons make up a flight group... and each flight group typically has two spare backup airframes. Three flight groups then form a brigade, giving a brigade a total of 24-30 airframes. So I could see a J-16 Air Brigade having a squadron or a flight groups worth of J-16Ds.
Either scenario the PLA doesn't need the 600 J-16Ds airframes like the J-10C as 迷彩虎 suggests, because the J-16D serves a niche mission of electronic attack rather than a front line fighter. Case and point a USN carrier air wing (~80 aircraft) has about 5 Growler airframes (nine CVWs gives us ~50 frontline Growler airframes), and the USMC only had four Prowler squadrons.

Based on what I'm reading both J-15D and J-16D are both to be fielded by the PLAN and PLAAF respectively, and I can't find anything to suggest either program has been canned.... In fact to double check my suspicions, I found Denio's tweet about the J-16D dated from last August.
I would say it's not a credible source at all. It's not too different from the military pages of news outlets like Sina. Although it doesn't have a notorious reputation as MC or Kanwa, but it's basically because the channel is more a scavenger of news/rumors rather than an original source.


New Member
Registered Member
Considering the Americans only quite recently managed to make the change from a 4-crew Prowler to a 2-crew Growler to serve the electronic attack mission, I'm not sure the PLA is able to make the leap to go from a Y-9 ELINT that is highly effective from a strategic standpoint but lacks tactical countermeasures (speed, the ability to fire AAMs and ARMs, as well as the ability to fly unescorted in a hostile environment) to a single-seat fighter airframe that is capable of EA/EW as well as the SEAD mission, and thus operating at a tactical level. Yes automation is getting more sophisticated, however I just don't think we've reached a level of sophistication where automation knows when/how/what to jam.... cause after all there's only so much jamming you can do before the enemy operates close enough to declutter your jamming, or perhaps even get an IR heat signature lock.

I think we have a misunderstanding here.

The transition from EA-6B to EA-18G had nothing to do with lack of capability to shift from a 4-man plane to a 2-man plane. We have zero information whether Navy is satisfied with the Growler but we do know that they simply had no other choice. It was caused by the lack of budget for maintenance of a small number of legacy platforms. Intruders were retired by 1997 without replacement after the cancellation of A-12 program. The plan was to replace them with multirole aircraft - the Super Hornet. The Tomcats were also on the chopping block around the same time although they flew until 2006.

Growler is also old tech in terms of managing the systems. The demonstrator flew in 2001 and it was those tests that resulted in the Growler program. If the USN can manage its operations with a 2-man plane then so can China. Perhaps all you need to do is use 2 planes in place of 1 if the number of EW officers is relevant. Two planes instead of one provide greater versatility and resilience, including resilience to loss. Growlers are also faster which means that they can escape from threats at the same speed as the rest of the strike force- something Prowlers were unable to do.

The problem is whether American choices stemming from trying to balance operational requirements and costs are the right choices for China. Another problem is whether China actually knows how to best use its Growlers since Growler is an American plane for American operations with American tactics and American systems.

Let's remember that the USAF doesn't use Growlers apart from providing a single squadron worth of pilots flying Navy EA-18Gs. The Growlers are a Navy plane with primary mission being carrier-based EW capability. It all stems from being carrier-based not from being Super Hornet-based or being reduced to a single EW officer.

Growlers might be the kind of "improvement" that F-35 was - that is a non-improvement that only seems like a great thing because the PR campaign is in full swing.

We just don't know. What we do know is that China has all the capability to build a Growler-clone since at worst it will be a copy of Tornado ECR. So if they are not doing it it means that they don't see the reason to do so and my explanation is that they are simply trying to figure out what exactly the value of the Growler is. Only two countries use the Growler - the US and Australia - and their operations tend to be as secretive as possible.

China simply has to learn how their "Growlers" are supposed to work and whether they really need them at all. Perhaps the Navy will need them seeing as they have little other options and being able to move your strike force at the same speed as your EW assets makes all the difference. But the PLAAF operates in different operational and strategic conditions. Perhaps just like USAF they will stick with more bigger turboprops with stronger and more numerous systems and more numerous crews. USAF is not buying more Growlers but they just bought more EH-130s.

The simple solutions tend to be the best solutions. If we think of the J-15D as "Chinese Growler" why do we think that J-16D is needed at all? There's no EA-15G after all.

What I mean is that the same technology that's meant to be a force multiplier can also become a massive handicap because once you start jamming, the enemy knows you're coming - what do you do next? Maybe get your own fighters/ships to lock up and kill the enemy while they're down? Perhaps maneuver to flank the enemy in the midst of confusion (decoy jamming)? Case and point TOPGUN has a whole separate branch to develop and train EA/EW tactics, because the mission set is a lot more sophisticated than "just" operating a jet... EA/EW has a lot wider implications to the overall war fighting doctrine, and that might also explain why we don't hear much from the J-15D and J-16D from an OpSec standpoint. All the multiple layers of decisions that need to be made, the appropriate tactics/strategy that is to be executed, alongside operating the multitude of sophisticated avionics and sensors might just be a little too much workload to add to a pilot who already has his or her hands full flying a jet at 400+ knots whilst also on the lookout for hostile aircraft/threats.... and why I just don't think anyone will be making the jump towards a single-seat EA/EW aircraft soon.

Jamming is just a lot of noise in the spectrum that makes it unusable unless you have signal power that is greater at said distance than the power of the jammer. That noise looks like a huge cloud of white on the sensor displays which means that if your sensors have to see past the jammer then you effectively block of everything behind the jammer.

Think of it as an information force field. Nothing can get past it. And that also includes missiles. Unless they have passive guidance which becomes useless the moment you turn off your jammers. I think it's fairly obvious how that can be used to your advantage in terms of forcing the opponent to make sub-optimal or outright wrong choices.

Consider that you don't even have to use it for attack. You can use it to screen pre-positioning of your forces when you deploy from the carrier - which takes time. During the preparation to Desert Storm the coalition would regularly mass large numbers of aircraft to put Iraqi air defenses on high alert. You force the enemy to get in a pattern of responses and then you break it.

Also in a peer-vs-peer scenario the Growlers leading an actual strike group would not turn on their jammers until they were within striking range. Then once the strike is done they cover the retreat. If they needed cover for the approach it wold be most likely provided by such pre-staging.

Major military operations never happen in vacuum. The last one that did was in Crimea in 2014 and it only worked because all of the troops that took part in the operation were already in position in the huge naval base of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.