A rare photo of the J-16 1601 prototype approaching the CFTE airfield before landing is shown here. It was first rumored in August 2010 that 601/SAC are developing a 3.5 generation heavy multi-role fighter bomber for PLAAF based on J-11BS.
Several prototypes were built. Like Su-30MKK, J-16 features a retractable IFR probe on the port side of the nose to increase its range. As the result the IRST/LR systm was offset from the center to the starboard side.
The aircraft also has twin nose wheels due to increase of the TO weight. J-16 also has tandem seats with a WSO sitting in the backseat. Its major improvemnt is an ASEA fire-control radar inside a gray radom with dedicated AG modes.
A new ECM system may have been installed as well. Like J-11BS, it is also powered by two WS-10 turbofans. Besides PL-8, PL-10 and PL-12 AAMs, it could also carry the same precision guided weapons being carried by JH-7A, such as KD-88 ASM and LS-500J LGB.
Compared to JH-7A, J-16 is expected to have a more powerful radar (AESA from 607 Institute?), a greater weapon load (8t) and a longer range (4,000km). Since spring 2013 at least two J-16 prototypes (1601 & 1603) have been seen undergoing tests at CFTE, including carrying a new PL-10 AAM.
Recent news (October 2013) suggested that the first batch of pre-production J-16s is preparing to enter the limited service with PLAAF.