Thursday, April 10, 2014

A new version of Yuan class SSK ?

China's sub building is picking up the pace.

New Chinese-sourced imagery shows that the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) continues to modify its Type 041 Yuan class conventional submarine and that it is making progress towards a new large destroyer or cruiser.

On 10 and 11 December 2013 the first images of a new variant of the Type 041 - also sometimes referred to as the Type 039A, Type 039C or Type 039X - appeared on Chinese military web forums. It had just been launched by the Wuhan Shipyard of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), the major manufacturer of China's non-nuclear powered submarines. Only seen partially in these first images, a new image seen on 6 April shows the new Type 041 variant has a raked sail that is similar to recent German SSK designs.

This new sail design may incorporate an additional high-frequency sonar at the base of the sail, as do some other submarines with similar designs. This Type 041 may also be slightly longer than previous variants.

Uncorroborated Chinese sources have suggested that the new variant displaces about 3,500 tons compared to about 3,000 tons for earlier Type 041s. This could indicate that the new variant has more weapons - IHS Jane's Fighting Ships states that the existing variants are armed with YJ-2 (YJ-82) anti-ship missiles and a combination of Yu-4 (SAET-50) passive homing and Yu-3 (SET-65E) active/passive homing torpedoes. Yu-6 wake-homing torpedoes may also be carried.

The basic export version, marketed as the S20 and unveiled in February 2013, displaces about 2,300 tons.

Since 2004 12 Type 041 submarines are believed to have been launched, while the US Department of Defense estimated in its May 2013 annual report on China's military to Congress that production could reach 20 ships.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

J-15 Flying Shark training on China's Carrier Liaoning

The Shenyang J-15 (Chinese: 歼-15), also known as Flying Shark (Chinese: 飞鲨, Fēishā), is a carrier-based fighter aircraft in development by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation and the 601 Institute for the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy's aircraft carriers. This aircraft is based on the Russian-designed Sukhoi Su-33 and is fitted with domestically produced radars, engines, and weapons. An unfinished Su-33 prototype, the T-10K-3, was acquired from Ukraine sometime in 2001 and is said to have been studied extensively, with development on the J-15 beginning immediately afterward. While the J-15 appears to be structurally based on the Su-33, the indigenous fighter features Chinese technologies as well as avionics from the J-11B program.

Its performance is estimated to be similar to American F/A-18 C/D Hornet

General characteristics of the aircraft:

Crew: 1-2
Length: 21.9 m (72 ft)
Wingspan: 14.7 m (48.25 ft)
Height: 5.9 m (19.5 ft)
Wing area: 62.04 m2 (667.80 ft2)
Empty weight: 17500 kg (38600 lb)
Loaded weight: 27000 kg (60000 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 33000 kg (72752 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × WS-10A afterburning turbofans
Dry thrust: 89.17 kN (20,050 lbf) each
Thrust with afterburner: 135 kN (33,000 lbf) each
Wingspan, wings folded: 7.4 m (24.25 ft)
Maximum speed: Mach 2.4[30]
Range: 3500 km(2050 mi)
Service ceiling: 20000 m (65700 ft)
Rate of climb: 325 m/s (64000 ft/min)
1 × 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon with 150 rounds
Munitions on twelve external hardpoints, including:
8 × PL-12 or R-77, and 4 × PL-9 or R-73 air-to-air missiles
Various bombs and rockets
Anti ship and anti radiation missiles.
Electronic countermeasure (ECM) pods

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

China launches the first of two patrol boat for Nigeria

The China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company launched the Nigerian Navy’s first of two P-18N offshore patrol vessels on Monday. Looks like China's ship building industry is growing, and gaining more customers.
Arms export to Africa can be profitable. This boat is based on Type 056 corvette, which has become a mature, successful design.
 The launch ceremony took place at Wuchang Shipyard in Wuhan, China, and was attended by numerous Nigerian dignitaries, including Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Faka Jonathan. She said her husband Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is committed to recapitalising the Nigerian naval fleet to enable it to address various maritime security challenges, IHS Janes reports.
The vessel was assigned the pennant number F91 (the pennant number F90 is assigned to the NNS Thunder, an ex-US Coast Guard cutter). The offshore patrol vessel’s launched ceremony also marked the hull formation ceremony of the second vessel, F92.
 Only the first offshore patrol vessel (OPV) will be built entirely in China as between 50 and 70% of the second ship will be constructed in Nigeria in an effort to enhance local shipbuilding capability and provide technology transfer. Delivery of F91 is expected in the middle of this year and the second vessels is also expected to arrive sometime in 2014, and be completed either late this year or early 2015.
 China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC) has also signed a contract to upgrade the Nigerian Naval Shipyard in Port Harcourt so that it can build OPVs and maintain vessels up to 10 000 dwt. Upgrades to the dockyard include a new jetty, a new dry dock and other additions.
 Nigeria ordered the two Chinese OPVs in April 2012 and construction began that October. The vessels are based on the Type 056 corvette in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The vessels are 95 metres long, with a draft of 3.5 metres. They are powered by two MTU 20V 4000M diesel engines, giving a speed of 21 knots, and are armed with one 76 mm and two 30 mm guns (no missile fitted). Crew complement will be 70 sailors and endurance 20 days. They will be able to carry and support a helicopter off a rear deck.
 The Nigerian Navy announced that the vessels would mainly to be used for maritime surveillance, patrol and response tasks. Other roles of the vessels would be protection of offshore assets, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) patrol and surveillance, search and rescue and oil spill control.
 As the Nigerian Navy is growing, it needs bigger boats, not just patrol boats, but also frigates and destroyers.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

China's aircraft engine development

China has always been relatively backward in the field of aircraft engine, still relies on Russia to supply most engines.
But the leadership has decided to pour billions of dollars into engine development.
Simultaneously, China is developing many different classes of Turbofan, Turboprop, Turboshaft engines.
Below is a nice chart detailing the engine models, thrust, and applications.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

China's moon mission may lead to future economic benefits

 When Chang’e 3 — China’s first lunar rover — rolled from its lander this week, it made its country one of just three to ever drive a lander on the Moon. In celebration of the event, Chinese national news services broadcast some incredible live video of the rover (named Yutu, which means “Jade Rabbit”). However, the video does not seem to have been released to anyone but the Chinese media, and right now the internet has no adequate recording we can find. Two reports show the lander begin from two different angles, though both are low quality. Check out the videos below; fuzzy or not, they really are something.

Yutu rode to the Moon aboard China’s Chang’e 3 mission. The Chang’e series has been the standard-bearer for the Chinese space program for some time, and it will continue to be for at least two more missions. There are two more rovers planned, each with a different mission to research and survey. The ultimate goal is to land a Taikonaut (Chinese astronaut) on the Moon, and beyond that to set up a permanent lunar base. Their timeline for doing this isn’t so far removed from NASA’s musings about a mission to Mars. As the American space agency tries to drum up support for a mission to another planet, its Chinese counterpart could undercut them by focusing on a base much more likely to have economic benefits.

In fact, that’s a large part of China’s motivation to explore the Moon: the economic benefits. When the Apollo astronauts collected moon rocks for study, there was only the vaguest of ideas about the possible resources for exploitation. Now, this rover has an explicit mission to (among other things) survey the Moon for helium-3, a rare element that could be a clean, easily used fuel for nuclear fusion reactors. Only about 15 tons of the stuff is thought to exist on Earth, but estimates for the total compliment of the isotope on Luna range up to five million tons. A leader of the Chinese lunar program estimated that about 100 tons could provide for the world’s current energy needs for one year. Assuming we could extract 100% of that five million tons, that’s quite a bit of time to come up with the next stop-gap energy solution.

The Moon is also known to be home to rich deposits of titanium and other precious metals, and there’s no telling what other, unexpected wonders it might hold. Another lander on schedule for 2017 will attempt to collect and bring back rock and soil samples for analysis, and you can bet traces of precious or useful materials are first on their list of targets. China has said that it plans to spend the next couple of decades scouring our only satellite for helium-3 and anything else worthwhile, possibly securing an energy-independent future for China — that is, assuming fusion comes into its own and that the United States chooses to quietly accept Chinese dominance of the lunar oil fields. This is the stuff of which world wars and science fiction epics are made. Below is a video of the lander’s initial approach, in much higher quality than the footage above.

Yutu is equipped with a ground penetrating radar (GPR) that can probe several hundred meters into the Moon’s crust, and a spectrometer for basic sample analysis. That’s useless, of course, unless we find a more cost-effective way of getting material to and from the Moon. A space elevator would probably work best, but at present that’s almost as harebrained an idea as fusion itself. Perhaps the country’s population problems have made long-term problems more difficult to ignore, but the Chinese space agency appears to see the value of long-term investments and, if you’ll pardon the expression, moonshots.

Purely on its merits today, the Moon is anything but an investor’s dream. Still, an advantage based on the moon would be trivially easy to keep under a monopoly, and to exploit for extreme economic benefit.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

China's SLBM JL-2 is near initial operational capability

This would put China in the league of other major nuclear power (US, Russia, UK and France), the only nations with SLBM capability.

For the first time in the country’s history, China’s sea-based nuclear deterrence nears initial operational capability (IOC), according to a forthcoming report by a US congressional commission on China.

China’s JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile could reach IOC later this year, according to an early draft of the report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

With a range of 4,000 nautical miles, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will have its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent against the US mainland, mated with the Type 094 Jin-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). China has deployed three Jin-class SSBN and “probably will field two additional units by 2020.”

The report also states that China is pursuing two new classes of nuclear submarines — the Type 095 guided-missile attack submarine (SSGN) and the Type 096 SSBN. The Type 096 will likely “improve the range, mobility, stealth, and lethality” of the PLAN’s nuclear deterrent.

Though China does not have the ability to strike land targets with sea-based cruise missiles, the report states China’s navy is developing a land-attack cruise missile capability, most likely with the Type-095 SSGN and Luyang-III (Type 052D) guided-missile destroyer. This will enhance China’s “flexibility for attacking land targets throughout the Western Pacific, including US facilities in Guam.”

In June, according to the report, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force accepted 15 new H-6K bomber aircraft. An improved variant of the H-6, the K variant (with new Russian Engines) has extended range and can carry China’s new long-range, land-attack cruise missile (LACM). “The bomber/LACM weapon system provides the PLA Air Force with the ability to conduct conventional strikes against regional targets throughout the Western Pacific,” including Guam.

The report states China is working on extending the range of the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. With its current range of 810 nautical miles, it can already threaten US naval vessels throughout the Western Pacific. At 1,600 nautical miles from China, Guam falls outside the DF-21D’s range.

Other developments cited in the report include progress on China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which conducted its first successful carrier-based takeoff and landing with the J-15 Flying Shark fighter jet in November 2012, certified its first group of aircraft carrier pilots and landing signal officers during the ship’s first operational deployment in June, and verified its flight-deck operations process in September.

“The PLAN will continue to conduct short deployments and shipboard aviation training until 2015 to 2016, when China’s first J-15 regiment is expected to become operational,” the report states.

The document discusses other impressive surface ship developments. In 2012, China launched two new classes: the Luyang-III guided-missile destroyer and the Jiangdao (Type 056) corvette. Construction resumed for the Luyang-II (Type 052C) guided-missile destroyer and serial production continues for the Jiangkai-II (Type 054A) guided-missile frigate. “Most of these units will likely be operational by 2015,” according to the report.

Quoting Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, both renowned PLA experts, the report states that “by 2015, China will likely be second globally in numbers of large warships built and commissioned since the Cold War’s end ... by 2020, barring a US naval renaissance, it is possible that China will become the world’s leading military shipbuilder in terms of numbers of submarines, surface combatants and other naval surface vessels produced per year.”

One of the many disturbing conclusions in the report is the suggestion that China’s military modernization is “on track to alter the security balance in Asia over the next five to 10 years, challenging decades of US military preeminence.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

China Completed the Development fourth-generation nuclear submarine

This will be the type 097 class SSN, the follow up to the type 095 class SSN (3rd generation), type 093 SSN (2nd generation), and type 091 SSN (1st generation).

The major improvement should be in noise reduction of the boat.

At the recent 2013 Four Northeastern Provinces Cooperation Leaders' Conference held in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, Tan Zuojun, vice governor of Liaoning Province and former general manager of China State Shipbuilding Corporation, revealed that development of China's fourth-generation nuclear submarines and other high-tech weapons and items of equipment in the Northeastern Provinces of China had been completed. The news drew considerable attention.

The fourth generation nuclear submarine features high performance and low noise level.

Military expert Du Wenlong pointed out that the main characteristic of the fourth generation nuclear submarine would be its high performance. Compared with earlier submarines, modern attack submarines differ significantly in offensive power, possessing both anti-submarine capabilities and also strong potential for anti-ship action and attacks on land-based targets. He pointed out that the fourth generation nuclear submarines of the United States and Russia already have these capabilities; China's fourth-generation nuclear submarines too will be equipped with the appropriate torpedoes, along with missiles suitable for use against other sea-going or land-based targets. In addition, the Chinese submarine will have low noise output, a key indicator for measuring a modern nuclear submarine's underwater survivability, as well as its ability to remain hidden during maneuvers, or undetected while launching a missile attack. He pointed out that the fourth-generation nuclear submarine will possess effective noise damping features, such as a quieter nuclear power reactor with less vibration, and a more advanced hull muffler system, so that it will be difficult to detect even if within range of enemy sonar.

On the question when the fourth-generation nuclear submarine will enter service, Du Wenlong said that completion of development and completion of construction are two different phases - the cycle from completion of development to manufacturing, and then to fitting out and launch, can be long, perhaps several years. Progress is mainly determined by two factors: one is technical indicators, and the other is strategic need. (not sure if China has the urgency to build next SSN).

A significant enhancement of nuclear counterattack capability (this is more SSBN).

Analysts believe that continual development of attack submarines and strategic nuclear submarines at times of peace, adding better performance and greater combat ability, can enhance strategic deterrence capability. China's strategic nuclear forces are weapons to deter third parties from becoming involved in local conflicts. China firmly adheres to the principle of non-first use of nuclear weapons, but the existence of strategic nuclear submarines will give China a stronger voice and more room for maneuver in the case of any crisis. In addition, Song Xiaojun points out that the United States, Russia, Britain and France all possess modern strategic nuclear submarines as a symbol of their status as 'Great Powers'; it is natural that China should be unwilling to lag behind.