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4 Jun, 2010 09:33

China suspected of copycatting Russian naval jet

More accusations are being leveled against China for making clones of Russia's military hardware. China's J-15 naval fighter jet allegedly has remarkable similarities to Russia's current primary navy aircraft, the Su-33.

Chinese engineers may have reverse engineered a Soviet-era prototype T10K they bought from Ukraine four years ago, according to Hong-Kong-based magazine, Kanwa Asian Defence.

China needs naval jets for its carriers. Initially, Beijing wanted to buy 50 Su-33s, but then downsized the deal to just two jets meant for testing. Russia insisted on a bigger deal and wanted guarantees that the technology would not be copycatted, Kanwa’s Editor-in-Chief Andrei Chang told ITAR-TASS news agency.

Beijing has been accused of illegally using designs before, with claims that it previously cloned the Russian Su-27SK long-range combat fighter jet.

China bought the aircraft from Russia in the 1990s, and later licensed the production on its own territory. Eventually Russian-produced components in the jets were substituted with Chinese, and finally the deal was called off by Beijing. Then China presented its version of the Sukhoi fighter called J-11B, which Moscow called a violation of its rights for intellectual property.

Some military experts point to other Chinese military vehicles bearing strong resemblance to Russian hardware.

The Sukhoi Su-33 is a fourth-generation naval fighter, which has been used by the Russian Navy since 1991. It has foldable wings and a shortened tail, and uses a ski-jump take-off method instead of a catapult. The Su-33 is armed with 30mm GSh-30-1 cannon and has 12 external hard-points for additional weapons.