The J-16 is a two-seat, twin-engine electronic warfare aircraft that China considers to be a generation 4.5 jet. "Before the J-16, the [People's Liberation Army] has had to rely on a limited number of Russian-built Su-30s, whereas the indigenous J-10 lacks the range and payload to qualify as a true deep-strike fighter," Collin Koh of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore told SCMP August 12.
"In the past, the PLA-Air Force's combat division has been characterised more as a defensive arm, with limited range and offensive capabilities, confined mainly to its immediate region and territory," Koh said.
"The J-16 will push the envelope further," he added.
"The J-16 has surely been primarily developed for assaults on Taiwan," Antony Wong Don, a military analyst, told SCMP on August 4.
On August 4, the outlet reported that the J-16 aircraft had conducted exercises at an unknown location and that they'd soon be inducted into the Chinese air force. On August 12, an unknown number of the aircraft joined the force, according to the Hong Kong-based newspaper.
In 2015, viral photos emerged of a yet-to-be-unveiled Chinese fighter jet, leading to admiration and fear, according to Zee News. Three years later, that aircraft has entered service.