Russian military experts have downplayed any significant competition from the J-15 in the global arms market, with Col. Igor Korotchenko of the Defense Ministry stating in early June 2010, "The Chinese J-15 clone is unlikely to achieve the same performance characteristics of the Russian Su-33 carrier-based fighter, and I do not rule out the possibility that China could return to negotiations with Russia on the purchase of a substantial batch of Su-33s." China has actively sought to purchase Su-33s from Russia on numerous occasions—an unsuccessful offer was made as late as March 2009—but negotiations collapsed in 2006 after it was discovered that China had developed a modified version of the Sukhoi Su-27SK designated the Shenyang J-11B, in violation of intellectual property agreements.
The first J-15 prototype is believed to have performed its maiden flight on August 31, 2009, powered by Russian-supplied AL-31 turbofan engines. Video and still images of the flight were released in July 2010, showing the same basic airframe design as the Su-33. In July 2011, it was reported FWS-10H turbofan engine was chosen for J-15 fighter, which has takeoff thrust increased to 12,800 kg, comparing FWS-10 turbofan's 12,500 kg. Other improvements were also made to make it better suited to carrier-based fighter's requirement.
On May 6, 2010, the aircraft conducted its first takeoff from a simulated ski-jump.
The J-15 is reported to use different avionics and systems than the Su-33, and uses Chinese-developed technologies.Latest reports suggest that China has developed an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which could be installed upon the new fighter, and thrust vectoring as well. A dark color radar dome indicates that the first J-15 prototype has a radar different from the one of Su-27SK. Chinese officials commented that the J-15 could match the performance of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Rafale M naval fighters.