First impressions of the J-11A

DCS World 2.5.1 Beta introduced the Shenyang J-11A to the Flaming Cliffs 3 aircraft line-up marking the first “new” entry to Flaming Cliffs since Flaming Cliffs was originally released. This Chinese twin-engined air superiority fighter is the first flyable aircraft for the Chinese asset pack and something of a historic moment for the series. So how does the J-11 fly and is it any different than the Su-27?

Birds of a Flanker

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Afterburner climb in the J-11A.

The J-11A is a license build Su-27 made by Shenyang and given the reporting code of Flanker B+ as its NATO reporting name. This version of the Flanker shares a great deal of commonalities with the Su-27S that has been the star of the Lock On and Flaming Cliffs series for years.

Deka Ironworks, responsible for the modifications to the Su-27 model enabling this aircraft to become the J-11A, detailed the minor and significant modifications they made to make this aircraft a reality just last week.

Most changes are subtle and detail oriented rather than earthshattering – except for the one change. The R-77 active-radar medium range missile is available on a Flanker for the first time. The Chinese version of the Flanker came with this added capability and it enables a “Fox 3” launch capability.

J-11A-R-77away
Fox 3, Fox 3!

The J-11A comes with a series of fairly nice skins too including some USAF aggressor options to enable the aircraft to fly in a multiplayer battle on both sides. Its a nice, and welcome, touch by Deka Ironworks.

But is it really that different?

J-11A-cockpit1

The answer to the question on just how different this aircraft is: very little. Aside from some fairly significant weapon offering changes (that also include a new multi-store bomb carrying ability) the feel and operation of the J-11A is very much that of the Su-27. Rebind or copy your controls over and you’ll find yourself sitting in a cockpit that is familiar with core systems functioning the same.

Deka Ironworks is intending to further update the cockpit with some J-11 specific features later on down the road, however, they have already done a bunch of smaller changes including Chinese lettering on most of the controls.

The J-11 handles and performs just as the Su-27 does. With excellent speed, acceleration, weapons carriage, electro-optical and radar sensors, and magnificent high-alpha capabilities the J-11A is an extremely capable aircraft and in the hands of a seasoned expert will be able to go against the best opposing fighters with the knowledge that they have a contender for best fighter on the scene.

J-11A-confirmed
An AI F-16 succumbs to a R-73 ‘Archer’ missile.

Both Su-27 and J-11A are credible opponents to the excellent F-15C and will no doubt test their mettle against the flyable F/A-18C before too long as well.

The changes to the model of the Su-27 may be minor but they were beautifully done and the J-11A looks beautiful next to the other high detail DCS aircraft. It’s really great to see high quality work like this.

Part of a bigger picture

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A future addition to the China Asset Pack – the AI J-10A.

The addition of the J-11A as a separate flyable aircraft isn’t by itself a big deal. The J-11A is a moderately different Su-27 that comes with some unique features. It is, however, the most visible part of the new China Assets pack that includes aircraft, ships, and likely vehicles at some point in the future as well as the DCS: JF-17 Thunder module at some point later on.

Most modern combat flight sims of the past 20-30 years have focused on Russian, American, and other European combat aircraft and I think it’s an interesting moment to see some fairly “new” types emerge into the flight sim scene that have been relatively unknown.

J-11A-sun-glow-taxi
Early morning take-off scene with the J-11A.

I’ve mentioned it before that AI versions of the J-10A, JH-7A, KJ-200 and H-6H are all on their way offering up some more Chinese aircraft including fighters, attackers, AWAC and bomber aircraft.

Lots of fun, hypothetical, new scenarios will be created using these assets which as far as I’m concerned adds to the fun. The DCS World is expanding in all directions including with the China Asset pack.

Screenshots

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