The following is taken directly from the manual accompanying the product:
“The Shenyang J-15 also known as Flying Shark in China is a carrier-based fighter aircraft indevelopment by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation and the 601 Institute for the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy's aircraft carriers.
This aircraft is based on the Russian-designed Sukhoi Su-33 and is fitted with domestically produced radars and weapons.
An unfinished Su-33 prototype, the T-10K-3, was acquired from Ukraine sometime in 2001 and is said to have been studied extensively, with development on the J-15 beginning immediately afterward. While the J-15 appears to be structurally based on the Su-33, the indigenous fighter features Chinese technologies as well as avionics from the J-11B program.
The first J-15 prototype is believed to have performed its maiden flight on August 31, 2009, powered by Russian-supplied AL-31 turbofan engines. Video and still images of the flight were released in July 2010, showing the same basic airframe design as the Su-33.In July 2011, it was reported WS-10H turbofan engine was chosen for J-15 fighter, which has takeoff thrust increased to 12,800 kg, comparing WS-10 turbofan's 12,500 kg. Other improvements were also made to make it better suited to carrier-based fighter's requirement.
On May 6, 2010, the aircraft conducted its first takeoff from a simulated ski-jump deck at Xingcheng navy air field, Liaoning. The reliance on ski-jump launches and the lack of Chinese carrier based refueling capabilities are believed to greatly reduce the effective range of the J-15.
The J-15 is reported to use different avionics and systems than the Su-33, and uses Chinese-developed technologies, and features various upgrades such as AESA radar, composite and radar absorbent material, MAWS, improved IRST, and new electronics.
A twin seat variant J-15S made its maiden flight on November 4, 2012. In China PLA Navy the J-15 could match the F/A-18 in bomb load, combat radius and mobility, more work was required in its electronics and combat systems.
On 25 November 2012, Chinese media announced that two J-15 had made successful arrested landings on the aircraft CV-16 carrier Liaoning. The first pilot to land on the Liaoning was named as Dai Mingmeng. PLA Daily newspaper indicated first five naval pilots including Dai conducted J-15 fighter landing and taking off. Test and training program officials confirmed the carrier-borne aircraft and special equipment for the landing flight had gone through strict tests, and fighter jets can be deployed on the carrier.
The J-15/Su-33's basic design is aerodynamically similar to the MiG-29, but it is substantially larger. It is a very large aircraft, and to minimize its weight its structure has a high percentage of titanium (about 30%, more than any of its contemporaries). The swept wing blends into the fuselage at the leading edge extensions and is essentially a cropped delta (the delta wing with tips cropped for missile rails or ECM pods). The J-15 is also an example of a tailed delta wing configuration, retaining conventional horizontal tail planes, though it is not a true delta. It has two vertical tailfins outboard of the engines, supplemented by two fold-down ventral fins for
additional lateral stability.
As carrier based aircraft, J-15 have strengthen landing gear and tail hook system for arrested landing, AAoA light also equipped on nose gear to indicate proper decent angle for carrier landing approach. And folding wings and tail cone for resize parking space.
For improved lift factor in take off and landing operating, J-15 has move-able canards controlled by FCS. This system can deflect a fixed angle to gain more lift during aircraft in low speed and auto adjust angle to help aircraft maintain lift in normal flight.
Limited by FCS development, J-15s canard have fewer operating modes than similar systems on Russian Su-33/35/37 families now, it may have more function with FCS development in future.”
(Opening shot and introduction information taken from the manual of the product)
Installation and documentation
The installer is downloaded from Just Flight after purchasing from their website after purchasing it. You add the aircraft to your Just Flight account and viola, you are done! The validation is done when you install and this is done the same way as all of the installer wrappers for Just Flight products.
Installation takes about a minute, no vices. Once you enter FSX it will give you the usual requests to add dll files to your FSX database, you accept it and you are done. The aircraft is located in FSX under Shenyang as the manufacturer.
You get quite a few variants here to choose from:
1. PLA Navy numbers 551, 552, 553, 555 (which is a very nice grey livery), and PLA 556.
2. Four more in grey livery with different weapons load outs, to whit a combat air patrol payload, anti-ship payload, suppression of enemy air defense payload and a strike payload.
3. Lastly, four more with the usual camouflage liveries with the same payloads as in 2 above.
When you head over to your FSX folder and look in the BearStudios folder you will find the Naval Flanker OFM, which is your manual and trust me, you need to look at it! It is an 82 page read which really give you an in-depth look into the aircraft and its systems. It starts with the introduction, the general section and some performance specifications on the aircraft.
This is followed by the type of equipment that one can expect onboard and also gives you a walkthrough in terms of the weapons used on the aircraft. Next up is some very handy tips on setting up your key combinations and a few extra tweaks to get the aircraft to give you a comfortable feel and operate smoothly.
The next part will give you a look into some really nice features of the aircraft, which are amongst others, realistic functioning multi-function radar, a fully working weapons system and delivery system, and that the aircraft is fully compatible with carrier operations.
The rest of the manual is dedicated to showing you the cockpit and introducing you to the various different systems onboard. This introduction is not overly complicated, but I found that when something needs to be explained a little better, the developers have included a concise but informative explanation, and if you spend a little time with the manual and with the systems themselves, finding your way around will be a piece of cake, except with the weapons delivery systems, but more on that later.
The manual is written in the by now familiar style and taste of Just Flight and just as with their other products, I have found the manual informative, yet simple to use and they have excellent graphic representations inside the manual to fit the book to the screen.
I cannot fault them on the installation or the documentation accompanying it. There is one or two other aspects regarding the setup that we need to deal with.
When first arriving in the cockpit and having a look around, my first expression was “what the...” It is all in Chinese! Oh man, my Chinese is not that good brother! If this is your concern too, don’t be worried - if you look into your BearStudios folder again under J15Cockpit_SelectorFSX, you will find some instructions on how to install an English version of the cockpit - phew, now I can breathe easily again. No good going up against the enemy and not being able to understand the cockpit layout!
The cockpit switch is accomplished by simply copying and pasting the files/folders inside the J15Cockpit_SelectorFSX to the corresponding folders inside your FSX folder and presto, you can now read your labels and gauges in English.
The manual is then finished off with the various different checklists you need to get the aircraft through its different stages of flight, and last but certainly not the least, information on carrier operations! We’ll talk about that a little later...
As far as the documentation and installation is concerned, it is the straightforward Just Flight approach and I cannot fault it, excellent!
Only three things here - firstly, no payload editor, fuel is changed by the standard fuel and payload editor in FSX. Secondly, no cold and dark cockpit, so we revert to the Cessna trick again and thereafter making sure that certain key switches are turned off when switching to the Flanker. Lastly, working weapons systems! Yes, it is becoming more commonplace in FSX to have fighters carry weapons that can really be fired. You have full air-to-air, air-to-ground, and even air-to-sea weaponry that really works.
This obviously means that the radar systems have to be properly simulated. They are. You will have to use the period key to fire the weapon of your choice. We will have a look at this later.
The exterior of this aircraft is just juicy and delicious! The lines are sleek and beautiful; the reflections are photo realistic coming from that fuselage. You have a realistic looking payload and your payload itself is done to extremely high visual quality!
You will note that little bit of hydraulic fluid streaking the control surfaces and the lettering and decals are done to the same high standards.
What I really enjoyed about this exterior is that no line is ever as smooth as it looks. If you zoom in, you will find that bumpiness of the structure of the aircraft and the little bulges around the aircraft skin that may appear smooth from afar, but are quite far from being smooth!
The wheels look very good too, and the only thing that may have had more detail maybe, is the engine innards. The discs look a bit cartoony but this is no major gripe!
You will also find that although the aircraft has a similarity to the Russian Sukhoi and bears a further resemblance to the MiG 29, the Fulcrum, one very important part is missing - the thrust vectoring engines. So bear that I mind - this aircraft may look a bit like the Fulcrum but has no thrust vectoring so the fact that the engine buckets are not moving or rotating, is not a mistake, it is like this in the real word counterpart too!
Full marks for the exterior of this aircraft, brilliantly done! Here are a few teasers for you:
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No 2D flyable panel here guys, so if that is your forte, you will be disappointed. You have to fly from the VC. Now, I have to say that I may have been just a little disappointed by the quality of the VC here. After looking at the outside, you rush to the inside to see what it is like, and here you are greeted by slightly cartoonish textures, but having said that, it is nowhere near undesirable either!
The HUD and MFD’s are really nicely done, but the keypad directly below the HUD is of a lower texture and a bit disappointing to be honest.
You have a moving stick in front of you, and as expected it is of the HOTAS (hands on throttle and stick) variety, pretty standard fighter jet stuff. The backup instruments on the bottom left and bottom right of the cockpit is excellent quality and stands out above the rest of the cockpit textures.
The perspective inside the cockpit is typical of a snug but comfortable (?) fit for a fighter jet. The canopy has excellent visibility for obvious reasons and also very nice reflections to boot. Just about every switch and switch guard can be operated and has a function attached to it, but more on that a little later when we run through the systems.
Also of note is the nice light effect that you get when you take the view through the HUD and you have that looking at glass through another piece of glass effect.
So in conclusion, the VC is a bit of a mixed bag, high quality in some areas, and lesser quality in others. Having said that, it is not too bad either and once you start to get through the checks and start to fly, you start to pay a little less attention to this aspect and focus more on the flying. To the VC, I would probably give an 8 out of 10.
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So... She looks the deal, but can she fly the deal to? Let us find out. Let us start by looking at the general information as to what this aircraft can actually achieve:
We should be able to get up to 62 500 feet AMSL, and we have a maximum speed of Mach 2.35 at altitude. So let us first see if we can achieve this before we continue. I line the aircraft up at the runway at FAYP (Ysterplaat Air Force Base at Cape Town in South Africa). The engines are running and we are ready to go with a strike payload and full fuel. We have two engines here.
At full afterburner, we accelerate to take off speed, which is around 160-175 KIAS in about 10 - 15 seconds. Holding the nose up at around 10 degrees, I blast through the sound barrier before reaching 3000 feet AMSL. Cape town is pretty much at sea level, so you can make your own deductions! Ten seconds later I am at Mach 1.40 blasting through 10 000 feet AMSL.
I raise the nose to 20 degrees and hold it there. Another ten seconds pass and I attained a Mach 1.46 climb blasting through 30 000 feet AMSL. Fifteen seconds later, the nose still at 20 degree, I manage to keep a Mach 1.35 climb and I blast through 40 000 feet AMSL.
The nose is down to ten degrees and I manage a Mach 1.21 climb an about another ten seconds later I rocket through 50 000 feet AMSL. Now things slow down quite dramatically and it takes me 35 seconds with the nose to 7.5 degrees and I clear 60 000 feet AMSL, at Mach 1.02. I drop the nose to 3.0 degrees and about 15 seconds later I pass the service ceiling at Mach 1.00. So yes, it can definitely reach the service ceiling.
Please bear in mind thought that what I just described is NOT the proper profile to fly to attain that altitude. You will have to fly a profile that manages you energy well enough so you can have more speed at that altitude. This is simply a quick test of the capabilities of the aircraft, altitude wise.
I now drop to around 42 000 feet AMSL and cut the engines to 85% N1. And yes, the aircraft easily goes into surpercruise, which means it attains supersonic flight without the use of afterburners. Wonderful!
Engine response is quick, almost instantaneous. But this is realistic enough, fighter jets don’t react to thrust changes in the same way as airliners do. You will however find that the “bite” from the afterburners takes a bit of time to “kick in” and when the thrust is decreased, for it to subside. Again, very realistic and nicely done!
Another thing - don’t think that just because you cut the thrust, you will start to loose speed dramatically either! Speed bleeds off very slowly, so planning in advance for the landing circuit, is a challenge, and you would have to employ the speed brake (which is situated on top of the fuselage and stands up similar to a spoiler on a wing) to slow down.
Another thing you would notice is the canards on the sides of the main fuselage just aft of the cockpit. This adds another dimension to the aircraft - STOL capabilities or Slow Take Off and Landing capabilities in full. The aircraft can fly extremely slowly for a fighter jet without flaps with a fairly high nose up angle and not stall. This is evident if you look at the stall speeds in the manual. This is also highly realistic, since if you look at the deltas like the Gripen fighter, the addition of these canards made it possible to land at normal speeds as opposed to the usual high speed landings associated with delta wing designs.
Another interesting thing about this aircraft is the fact that the flaps will not deploy unless the gear is down. There are four varying settings for degrees of flaps on the aircraft. Take off is done with half flaps (position two).
As I said, setting yourself up for the approach and landing takes a bit of planning and setting yourself up way in advance to get the speed under control. This takes a bit of practice, but you get the hang of it sooner than you think.
Instrument Landing System (ILS) approaches are quite possible with this aircraft. They are hand flown or with the autopilot, but the systems allows for extremely accurate approaches. I easily land at around 125-135 KIAS. Once you are down, you deploy the drag chute and you probably had the speed brake out during the approach phase anyway, and slowing down is quicker than I expected.
In complete contrast with the older fighters that I have recently reviewed then, energy management in terms of making sure we don’t get below the power curve during the approach and landing is not as critical and the aircraft is very docile and easy to land.
A word on the controls quickly - they are extremely sensitive as you would expect, and the faster you fly the more sensitive they become. Doing aerobatic maneuvers then is easy and you really feel as though you are in a modern day fighter jet.
You won’t have to battle losing energy during the climb in a loop too quickly since those two powerful rockets powering this aircraft will make sure you have plenty of power! Because of the speeds at which this aircraft flies, you will have to watch carefully when maneuvering that you don’t inadvertently put yourself into a high speed stall though.
On the ground the aircraft is nimble, yet there is that “heavy” sense of taxiing more than a set of textures though.
Although I have never had the harrowing experience of flying this bird in real life, I have to say I think they got it pretty close, especially comparing it to the figures of the manual. She is a joy to fly!
Now for the systems. As I said earlier you have quite a manual and it contains the proper checklists and flows to be followed for the aircraft. Now let us look at how systems intensive the aircraft is then...
You will notice that as with many of the modern day fighters you find a fairly short start up checklist - again, no point in spending hours tinkering with starting the aircraft if the enemy is inbound to shoot at you!
You will find that before start checklist is fairly brief with the checking of a few switch positions followed by a fairly shortish startup procedure. What is important here thought is that the startup can be achieved by using the book! I prefer using the ground power switch in the cockpit instead of tinkering with the APU, but this is personal preference.
All the avionics can be switched on and off according to the checklist. Once you start to go through the checklist, you will also notice the very logical and methodical layout of the Flanker’s cockpit. The checks are mostly done left to right, with the occasional jump between the panels. This is kept to a minimum however.
What I also liked is the attention to detail in the numbers of the engine instrument check during and after start. I sometimes find that when you look at the engine instruments of products they cannot really replicate the given numbers of the real world counterpart, but in this instance, it manages to do so quite well actually. You will have to remember, and yes I tested this, that these numbers will change up and down the allowable scale depending on altitude AMSL and temperatures and air pressures.
Another nice feature of the aircraft is the MFD display checklists that can be selected via the MENU option in the right top MFD. This makes following checklists a breeze!
Another quick word on the engine start - the engines really take a long time to spool up and light up! This is highly realistic and I loved this feature of the aircraft! Jet engines, including fighter jet engines, do not light up instantaneously, they need time and this aircraft has replicated the start procedure beautifully, full marks to the developer here!
The taxi checklist consists mainly of checking a few things that have been set, checking flight control movement and then doing some engine checks to see that the engines responds well to the MIL power setting. Once complete we can get going with the take off.
I have found that with any moderately decent length of runway, I don’t even use the afterburners for take off, because if you follow the manual and attempt a 350 KIAS climb, even if you climb vertically, you rush past that speed and onto 500-700 KIAS in a vertical climb and your reach 30 000 feet AMSL in less than a minute! If you are flying casually, I recommend disconnecting afterburners immediately after take off.
The rest of the checklists for normal operations are simply to keep an eye on certain things like the correct angle of attack for cruise flight and maximum speeds etc. The landing checklist mostly consists of making sure that you have the most important protuberances extending from the aircraft.
Another nice thing about this aircraft (for deep strike missions and the like) is that it comes equipped with an autopilot system capable of maintaining altitude (barometric or radio), heading or GPS coordinates, and it can even be switched to an ILS function! Very nice! There is of course a panel within the aircraft that can be used to setup the various different autopilot functions.
Also, you have a display in the NAV part of the MFD screens that allows you to get a view of the surrounding airports and which ILS’ and their frequencies are available for use in the surrounding areas. Excellent!
So as you can see, the aircraft can be flown from the book. I was rather impressed with this and shows that this in fact a rather deep simulation of the aircraft.
Now for the most fun part. Let us shoot something! I don’t normally fly with AI traffic, but in this case I will make an exception...
If we look at the manual for the aircraft, we will see that there is a panel number 35 is the weapons panel and then there is a master arm switch in the left lower panel next to the main panel. Following the manual we correctly configure this panel number 35 for usage. It took me a while to get this one figured out on how to arm the weapons systems and get them to work. You will have to follow the manual folks, no guessing games here! I thought that as a Falcon veteran, it should be easy, but the systems are quite different here than on the F-16!
We switch on our FCR Bus, our fire control system and make sure that we are using a coupled radar in the air-to-air weapons system. By the way, on the upper part of the left console you will find the AA/AG switch to select between the air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons modes.
As is to be expected, the targets appear as yellow dots with little vector indicators telling me in which directions they are flying. The weapons I carry can be found by following the TAC and then SMS pages on the right MFD (which is the preferred display for weapons systems, according to my view in any case).
Here I can see that in the CAP formation, I have been kited out with 12 missiles and a few rounds of machine gun ammo. Warning here, these weapons are not unlimited and the machine guns empty very, very quickly!
Once you have your target selected, you will see the usual range “cage” indicated, make sure you are within the inner part of this cage before you fire the missile, just like in Falcon 4.0, remember? If it is outside the inner cage, you will have a less successful chance of hitting the target due to range limitations with the missiles.
The firing effects are quite well modeled and should you look outside the aircraft when you fire the gun for example, you will see the spent cartridges flying away to the right of the aircraft and the tracers running towards the target (notice the blotch directly under the fuselage, that is the spent cartridge!):
Obviously you won’t see amazing pyro techniques when a missile strikes an aircraft or ship or when the guns hit the target either, since FSX was never really designed for this type of shoot'em'up action! You also have ECM (electronic counter measures) like the real thing.
You also have air-to-ground mode that you can use to target ships and other targets, including a GMT (ground moving target radar mode), which is great for tracking anything moving on the ground. Just as with the air-to-air mode, the right procedures have to be followed in order to get these working and I will simply refer you to the manual.
Now, this is where I do have a slight gripe with the manual folks - the stuff on weapons delivery can be a little hard to follow sometimes and you may have to revert to a bit of trial and error to get going with this. The manual is a little unclear in places and a tutorial would really have been a nice touch to this, but sadly we don’t have one. Be prepared to spend a bit of time scratching you head now and then. Not insurmountable but a bit of clarification in some areas would be nice! It should be remembered by the developers that not everyone buying this is necessarily a boffin in fighter jets or their weapons delivery systems.
I have included a few screen shots so that you can have a look at the weapons systems displays on the MFD and a few extra things too:
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Overall, I was really impressed with the weapons systems aboard this aircraft. They are as real as FSX will allow and if you compare them to the manual and the specifications of the real world counterpart, you will find that the level of realism is really very, very good! As can be seen the only gripe I have with the systems are their sometimes awkwardly explained functions within the manual and not the systems themselves.
A great job by the developer and I can see many, many hours of enjoyment for the multiplayer guys with this bird.
The sound pack compliments the aircraft really well! The afterburners are distinguishable from the main engine sounds. When firing weapons they can be heard and they very much resemble the sort of sounds that you would get when firing weapons in Falcon 4.0 for example.
The switches and dials inside the cockpit don’t make any sounds at all, which is a little strange but not really a big issue. You cannot hear the speed brake operating in the air or on the ground, and the flaps are silent too, BUT...
When you are on the ground and the engines are off and you are in the process of running the cockpit pre-flight checks, the soft motorized sounds of the flaps can be heard as you are testing them. This is realistic and a very nice touch!
There is some nice rolling sounds, not too loud though which is also a nice touch given the noise of the engines and the cockpit environment and when touching down you hear the nice thumping sound but no tires screeching either.
The gear sounds when being extended/retracted are loud as you would expect and this is again realistic. When starting to go really, really fast, the wind noise picks up nicely and given the fact that you would have a helmet on which would mostly deaden the wind noise (and others for that matter too) the sound pack as far as I am concerned is very realistic and really adds to the immersion of the package.
I run a Q9550 at 2.83GHz, 6GB RAM and a GeForce 480GTX with 768 MB RAM on it. Even with my AI traffic maxed out to get something to shoot, and at KORD (which was my test airport for the weapons systems on this bird), frame rates were excellent!
On the ground you get an easy 30 odd which obviously increased as I got airborne and are up and away! The different ranges on the radar display and the targeting and weapons displays had no impact on my fps at all.
If you have a mid range machine you should have no trouble with performance folks!
| Publisher: Just FLight |
Reviewed By: Werner Gillespie
This package pulls out all the stops - beautiful exterior, functioning weapons and it sounds like the real thing! The only issue I mentioned earlier was that some upgrading can be done in the VC, but to be honest, it is not a major gripe either. I really had a lot of fun reviewing this one.
This may be more for the multiplayer market in terms of formation flying and meeting up for a virtual mission within FSX, however, if you just want to get into a cockpit for a good “shoot at anything the flies, drives or floats”, this will be a good bit of fun for you too (I know it was for me!)
The price? $29.99! Folks, as far as I am concerned, this is a steal at that price. It is really reasonably priced for what you are getting.
What I liked about it
- The FDE
- The sounds
- The functioning weapons delivery system and the high fidelity within the system
- The price
- High performance even with lots of AI traffic, meaning that group flights and missions will most likely not suffer from performance degradation
- Extremely high quality exterior
- They still produce for FS9, and you can fly it in FSX and P3D!
What I didn’t like about it
- Only the VC that can have a bit of a face lift!