Which Naval Fighter Plane is better, the Indian MiG-29K or the Chinese J-15?

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No fighter between the two is overwhelming better than the other. Both fighters has their share of problems. MiG-29K is developed from MiG-29, and the J-15 from Su-33, which is developed from Su-27. Both Su-27 and MiG-29 are soviet jets.

MiG-29K is a carrier based multi-role fighter. It is extremely maneuverable and one of the most modern fulcrum present in the world. The problem marring the previous variant of MiG-29 were eliminated and all the systems like fuel storage, radar, avionics, smoky engines, weapons, fire control systems, HOTAS, HMD and IRST system were upgraded.

But the main problem affecting the performance is its serviceability. MiG-29K has a serviceability of just 28% to 45%. It means only 28-45% fighter are capable of operations at anytime. But localizing the production of spare parts like the engines has increased to the serviceability to some extent.

MiG-29K being a light fighter, can easily takeoff with full payload and fuel from an aircraft carrier. Also more MiG-29K can stored in the carrier’s hangar due to its small size.

J-15 is a carrier based fighter developed by China, by copying the Su-33. The J-15 has many improvements over Su-33 like radar, avionics and engines. The engines of J-15 are more powerful than the Su-33. The serviceability of J-15 is definitely better than MiG-29K.

The one thing that pulls the J-15 back is its size. The weight of J-15 is more than MiG-29K, which affects its ability to takeoff with full payload from a carrier deck. It has to take off with less weapons and fuel, which severely decreases it combat range and its ability to fight. The size of J-15 will also hinder movement on the deck in a battle.

The air combat skills of both the fighters are equal, so the fighter who first sees the enemy will have an advantage in BVR combat. Both fighters are equally maneuverable, so in a WVR combat, there is no clear winner. The skill, expertise and experience of the pilot will play a key role in the combat.

Article republished with permission of Rishikesh Patil from Quora.