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Red Dragon 'Flankers' (Paperback)

China's Prolific 'Flanker' Family

Aviation > Modern Aviation Aviation > Post-WWII Aviation

By Andreas Rupprecht
Imprint: Harpia Publishing
Pages: 256
Illustrations: colour maps, colour and black-and-white photos and tables
ISBN: 9781950394104
Published: 27th October 2022



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Noted for its exceptional performance, the Sukhoi Su-27 is not only one of the most capable fourth-generation fighters, but its development history is also remarkably rich. The ‘Flanker’ story took on a new industrial and political dimension when the Su-27 was chosen by China to meet the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s requirement for a new fourth-generation type.


This was a win-win-situation: Russia received a much-needed multi-billion-dollar contract and the PLAAF, for the first time, obtained a true high-end fourth-generation fighter. However, what followed was a complex drama, with both sides telling different stories. Following the direct sale from Russia, China obtained a contract for licence manufacturing. This yielded mixed success in the beginning and by the time the manufacturing procedures had evolved and improved, the licenced J-11 fighters no longer met the PLAAF’s requirements.

Subsequently, China developed indigenous variants of the ‘Flanker’ equipped with improved avionics, weapons, and engines, which Russia regards as a breach of the formal agreement. Regardless of whether these ‘Sino-Flankers’ are illegal copies, evolved clones or indigenous versions, the Chinese ‘Flanker’ series ultimately evolved into a wide range of variants, sometimes with no true counterparts in Russia.


This book provides a full overview of the Chinese ‘Flanker’ family, describing the genesis of this family and providing a review of the variants, their systems, and capabilities and how they are used by the People’s Liberation Army.

 A valuable volume from the best Western author.

AeroSpace Magazine

About Andreas Rupprecht

Andreas has been interested in China’s culture, history and aviation for decades and began writing in 2007. With Harpia Publishing, he produced Modern Chinese Warplanes – a comprehensive directory of the PLAAF’s structure, order of battle and current operational systems, published in 2012. This was complemented by the more strategically focused Flashpoint China in 2016 and the original research is now being completely revised in three parts covering Naval Aviation (2018), the PLAAF (2018) and the PLA Army Aviation (2019). He also works as a Chinese military aviation researcher and China news reporter for international magazines.

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