Images circulate on the internet of a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet sporting a paint scheme to simulate the same used by China's J-11 and J-16 fighters. This is the second aircraft seen with Chinese markings, but the first with a full livery.
The fighter belongs to Composite Fighter Squadron (VFC) 12 Ambush, a unit based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. This is one of four adversary squadrons (also called aggressor), dedicated to simulating aircraft from US “enemy” countries, such as Russia and China itself.
The BuNo 165792 jet received a painting in shades of black and gray, aiming to imitate the same scheme applied in Shenyang J-11 and J-16 fighters of Naval Aviation (PLAAN) and Air Force (PLAAF) of China. Both are Chinese versions of the Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 fighters, of Russian origin.
Paintings and warning notices were also applied to the plane in order to represent the same scheme used in opposing aircraft. A part of the right side of the LERX (leading edge extension) was painted in a lighter tone to simulate the panel of the GSh-30-1 cannon of the Russian/Chinese fighters.
The painting applied to the tail also imitates the shape of the vertical stabilizers of Chinese aircraft, which have a chamfered tip. These are fiberglass dielectric fairings, which cover the navigation and communication antennas
To increase the realism of training and facilitate the memorization of painting schemes and opposing markings, the US paints its aggressor aircraft "imitating" the same patterns.
The VFC-12 had already painted one of its old F/A-18D Hornets with the ghost pattern, in shades of gray with pixelated blue, applied to some aircraft. Sukhoi Su-57 Felon, Russian stealth fighter.
In October 2021, a Super Hornet from the same squadron was noticed with the Chinese national headdress applied in the US Navy's own standard gray paint job. Soldiers were also seen with patches embroidered in Mandarin, showing that the Navy has been studying and simulating Chinese tactics for some time.
This was initially noticed through the portal The War Zone, who also presented a series of new opponent paintings that will be applied to F/A-18E/F fighters, simulating Russian, Chinese and even Iranian fighters.
In June of last year an F/A-18E from VFC-12 became one of the first Navy Super Hornets to receive a painting that simulates the Su-57.
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