Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Chinese Commandos Train To Kill Pirates
The Chinese South Sea Fleet recently conducted an anti-terrorism drill in which commandos flew to a merchant ship and then assaulted it by rappelling down from the helicopter and "cleared" the vessel of pirates and "rescued" the crew. Earlier this month, a Chinese cargo ship, the "Delight", and its 25 man crew, was taken by Somali pirates. About the same time, a Chinese fishing boat, with a crew of 24, was also taken by Somali pirates off the coast of Kenya. China has said it will contribute forces to help deal with the Somali pirates.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
China's fighters undercut Sukhoi in African markets
By ANDREI CHANG
HONG KONG (UPI) -- China's J-10A air superiority combat fighter aircraft falls into the same category as the U.S.-made F-16 Block 40, but it costs at least one-third less.
The People's Republic of China has already started to manufacture a next-version J-11B, based on the Russian Sukhoi Su-27SK.
China denies that its aircraft is an imitation of the famous and highly regarded Russian fighter, as its measurements are smaller. Therefore China does not consider the J-11B to be subject to the Sukhoi Su-27SK licensing agreement or its export restrictions. The J-11B is also likely to be fitted with Chinese WS10A engines and sold in Africa.
In general, the price of Chinese weapons is still about one-third lower than comparable Russian weapons. More importantly, what China wants from Africa is resources, especially crude oil, and it has already exported substantial numbers of weapons in exchange for oil. In dealing with oil-producing countries China has an advantage over Russia, which as a major world oil producer has no need to trade weapons for oil.
For instance, China sold 15 J-7 fighters to oil-rich Nigeria in 2005. Nigeria is another country that has purchased most of its military hardware from Russia in the past. It has a fleet of Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF fighters, and the Nigerian army is equipped with 100 Russian T55 main battle tanks.
The one African country where Chinese arms purchases have completely replaced those from Russia is Egypt. Since tilting toward the U.S.-led Western camp in 1979, Egypt has continued to import Chinese arms. With technological support from China, Egypt has assembled 80 K-8 trainers and is assembling another 40, for a total of 120 K-8 trainers in the Egyptian air force. This makes it China's top customer for this item.
Egypt still has weapon systems from the Soviet Union, including at least 800 T54/55 MBTs, 200 sealed BMP-1 IFVs and about 60 MiG-21s for training purposes. But because of an insufficient supply of parts, Egypt decided to switch to Chinese aircraft and purchased 53 J-7 fighters from China.
Other African countries that have acquired China's K-8 trainers include Zambia with eight aircraft, Namibia with four, Zimbabwe with 12, Ghana with four and Sudan with 12. China also has had contacts with these countries concerning its FC-1 fighters.
All these countries have traditionally been Russia's weapons clients. The Namibian army has T54/55 tanks and its air force is equipped with Russian An-26 transport aircraft. Meanwhile, Namibia has also purchased two Y-12 transport aircraft from China.
Zambia uses both Chinese and Russian arms. The Zambian army is equipped with both T44s and Chinese T59 MBTs, which are now undergoing an upgrade with help from China. The Zambian air force also uses both MiG-21 and J-6 fighters.
China has exported to Zimbabwe T59 and T69 MBTs, and most of its ground forces' equipment is from China. Of course Russian SAM-7 surface-to-air missiles are still in service here. The Zimbabwean air force has six MiG-23 fighters and nine J-7 fighters.
(Andrei Chang is editor in chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto.)
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
China launches for record 11th time in 2008
BY STEPHEN CLARK
December 23, 2008
China launched a new geostationary weather satellite early Tuesday, marking the country's 11th successful space launch of the year and setting a new record for Chinese space activity.
The Feng Yun 2E satellite blasted off aboard a Long March 3A rocket at 0054 GMT (8:54 a.m. local time) from the Xichang launch center in southwestern China's Sichuan province.
The 172-foot-tall launcher flew east from Xichang and deployed the 3,064-pound spacecraft about 24 minutes after liftoff, according to the state-owned Xinhua news agency.
Feng Yun 2E will join a fleet of geostationary weather satellites operated by the China Meteorological Administration. The spacecraft will collect real-time weather imagery for forecasters in China and neighboring countries.
The new satellite will replace Feng Yun 2C, which was launched in 2004 and is stationed along the equator at 105 degrees east longitude.
China also operates a constellation of weather satellites in polar orbit. A new craft was added to that group during a launch earlier this year.
Tuesday's mission was the 11th Chinese space launch of the year, breaking the country's previous record number of launches set last year.
The launch also pushed China past the 10 successful orbital flights conducted by U.S. expendable launch vehicles in 2008. Those missions were flown by Delta 2, Atlas 5, Pegasus and Falcon 1 rockets.
Long March rockets have completed 115 launches since China orbited its first satellite in 1970, Xinhua reported.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
China to send 3 ships to Somalia to battle pirates
BEIJING (AP) — China's navy will send three ships to the waters off Somalia this week to protect Chinese vessels and crews from pirate attacks, state media said.
Two destroyers and a supply ship will leave the island province of Hainan in southern China on Dec. 26, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
They will patrol the Gulf of Aden and areas off the Somali coast, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said in a statement issued late Saturday.
"Their major task is to protect the safety of Chinese ships and crew on board as well as ships carrying humanitarian relief material for international organizations," Liu said.
Piracy has taken an increasingly costly toll on international shipping, especially in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest sea lanes. Spurred by widespread poverty in their homeland, the pirates have made an estimated $30 million hijacking ships for ransom this year, seizing more than 40 vessels off Somalia's 1,880-mile (3,000-kilometer) coastline.
Earlier this week, Liu said about 20 percent of the 1,265 Chinese ships passing through the area have come under attack so far this year. Seven hijackings have involved Chinese ships or crews.
Experts say most of the commercial ships are not armed, meaning crews have few options when attacked. A Chinese cargo ship's crew, aided by the international anti-piracy force, fought off an attempted hijacking this week using Molotov cocktails and water hoses.
China's plans to send warships is a cautious step toward more engagement.
Though Beijing has a huge global commercial maritime presence, the People's Liberation Army Navy has primarily focused on defending China's coast and, until now, limited operations abroad to port calls, goodwill visits and exercises with other navies.
The Chinese fleet would join ships from the U.S., Denmark, Italy, Russia and other countries in patrolling the Gulf of Aden, which leads to the Suez Canal and is the quickest route from Asia to Europe and the Americas.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
$278m AWACS deal struck with China
Thursday, December 18, 2008
By Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: In an effort to help the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) boost its air defence capability, Islamabad has struck a $278 million deal with Beijing to purchase a modern Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), legislators were informed here on Wednesday.
Pakistan is said to be the first country in the region to buy the Chinese AWACS system, which Beijing started developing in 2004 after the Americans stopped the Israeli government from selling the system worth $1billion to Beijing.
Under mounting pressure from Washington, Tel Aviv scrapped the contract to the disappointment of the Chinese, who badly needed the system for possible use against Taiwan. The details of the contract between Pakistan and China were placed before the National Assembly on Wednesday by Minister for Defence Production Abdul Qayyum Khan Jatoi.
The documents placed before the National Assembly reveal that under the multi-million dollar deal, China will provide the system to Pakistan in the next four years. The most important thing from Pakistan's perspective is that China has agreed to supply the system on deferred payment. The contract has been awarded to MS CETC China.
The story of China starting the development of its own airborne warning and control system is interesting. Until 2004, Beijing had not even thought of making its own AWACS system. Just like Pakistan, China was heavily dependent on foreign countries in improving the performance of its air force.
Information gathered from various sources revealed China launched work on its own system after the US blocked its move to develop radar surveillance aircraft. Washington even vetoed the sale of such systems China wanted to deploy in the Taiwan Strait. Military specialists said the Chinese system used domestically-produced advanced radar mounted on a Russian-made Il-76 transport aircraft.
Chinese military technicians have been struggling to acquire AWACS-type equipment ever since the United States coerced Israel in 2000 into backing out of a $1 billion agreement on selling to China four of its Phalcon phased-array radar systems.
The systems would have used Il-76 aircraft as a platform, but the main US concern in blocking the sale was that China would gain a military advantage over Taiwan. Moreover, under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the US government pledged to help Taiwan defend itself against a possible Chinese attack, meaning the US forces could become involved, should fighting erupt.
For the same reason, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force leaders were determined to acquire such planes. After the 2000 Israeli fiasco, the PLA made it a matter of pride to prove to the Americans they could not be denied AWACS.
Initially, China turned to Russia, its traditional source of military equipment. Beijing concluded a deal to buy four Beriev A-50 Mainstay radar planes, which are roughly the Russian equivalent of the US Air Force's E-3 Sentry AWACS. The purchase was believed to be the first phase of an agreement for eight Russian aircraft.
At the same time, Chinese scientists were working on their own radar equipment. It is not known whether the Russian aircraft were ever delivered, which would have provided a look at the technology, or whether the technicians obtained help from Israeli or Russian counterparts.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
China on Monday launched a remote-sensing satellite, "Yaogan V," from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north Shanxi Province. The satellite was launched with a Long March-4B carrier rocket at 11:22 a.m., the center said.
The satellite will be used for data collection and transmission involving land resources surveys, environmental surveillance and protection, urban planning, crop yield estimates, disaster prevention and reduction, and space science experiments.
Xu Hongliang, director of the center, said the flight had been carried out under extreme low temperature, with the lowest reaching minus 29 degrees celsius in the past few days.
However, its success showed that the designing of the launcher, which was put into use in September, was up to standard and capable of working in low temperature.
The center's staff had also drawn on successful domestic and foreign experience of low-temperature launching and made much effort for its success, he said.
The satellite's predecessor, "Yaogan IV," was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gansu Province earlier this month. "Yaogan III" was launched from Taiyuan on Nov.12, 2007.
The "Yaogan I" and "Yaogan II" satellites were launched in April 2006 and May 2007, respectively.
The satellite was developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., while the rocket was designed by the Shanghai Academy of Space flight Technology, which is under the corporation.
The flight was the 114th of the Long March series of carrier rockets.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Analysis: Ukraine aids China carrier plan
by Andrei Chang
The People's Republic of China has been sending military personnel to the former Soviet republic of Ukraine to learn how the country trains its aircraft carrier pilots, in preparation for the aircraft carrier battle group it eventually plans to build.
According to a source in the Ukrainian military industry, China first sent a large naval delegation, headed by the deputy chief of the People's Liberation Army navy, to visit the Ukrainian navy aviation force training centers in the southern port cities of Odessa and Sevastopol in October 2006.
The Chinese visited the Research Test and Flying Training Center at Nitka on the Crimean peninsula, and the two sides discussed the possibility of Ukraine helping to train China's navy aviation force and aircraft carrier pilots, the source said. Since then, Chinese engineers, pilots and naval technical experts have made frequent visits to Nitka.
The focus of much of China's current military cooperation with the Russian Federation and Ukraine is on producing large aircraft and an aircraft carrier. Ukraine has provided China with a prototype of its T-10K shipborne fighter. By dissecting the T-10K -- an earlier variant of the Sukhoi Su-33 fighter -- China hopes to acquire the capability to independently develop its own shipborne fighters.
The single T-10K that China purchased from Ukraine originally was based at the Nitka center, which is equipped with a range of simulators to train pilots in jump takeoffs, arresting landings and contingency responses. The training modules simulate the release of the arresting hook on takeoff and its use on landing at a speed of 155 miles per hour.
The Nitka center previously trained a generation of Soviet pilots on the Sukhoi Su-33 and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K fighters. Now the 297th Fighter Regiment of the Russian navy aviation force is undergoing training there.
As this author reported earlier for United Press International, China has imported four sets of aircraft carrier landing assistance equipment and arresting hooks. The Chinese are in the process of building their own aircraft carrier training base, which is why they have been so keenly interested in Nitka's simulators, training software, management procedures and technologies.
The training of aircraft carrier fighter pilots is a crucial step in putting together an aircraft carrier fleet. The training program is extremely harsh. According to the Ukrainian source, the most basic training for short-distance takeoffs, landings and ski-jumps would take at least six months.
Ukraine was once the main training center for the Soviet Union's aircraft carrier fighter pilots. It now intends to train navy pilots not only for China but also for India and other countries that aspire to possess aircraft carriers, a source from Nitka told United Press International.
The Indian navy is in the process of purchasing an aircraft carrier from Russia, as well as Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29UBK fighters, the first batch of which is expected to be delivered to India by the end of the year -- already a year later than scheduled. The pilots for those fighters most likely will be trained at Nitka.
China's dealings with Ukraine reconfirm that the People's Liberation Army navy is moving forward on its aircraft carrier project. The Chinese carrier apparently is based on a Russian design; otherwise China would not be interested in Ukraine's simulators. This means China's aircraft carrier very likely will adopt the Russian methods of ski-jump takeoff and landing.
China has also taken practical steps to build an aircraft carrier training base. The first step is to train shipborne fighter pilots at this base, followed by basic short-distance takeoff and landing training on the disabled Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag that China purchased in 1998.
Sources from the Ukrainian military industry have confirmed to United Press International on several occasions that the Varyag is unlikely to be restored to an operational fighter aircraft carrier, and most likely will be used only as a training platform.
Although the ship was purchased by a Hong Kong company ostensibly to be converted into a casino, Ukrainian sources told United Press International that they were aware of China's intentions from the beginning to use it for military purposes. The aircraft carrier, repainted with the colors of the PLA navy, is now in the Chinese port city of Dalian.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
This article published in Jane’s Defense Weekly
Details have emerged of China’s next generation J-11B heavy air superiority fighter aircraft, a further development of Sukhoi’s Su-27SK (Chinese designation J-11) that ended production in 2004 ahead of its planned run.
Shenyang Aviation Corporation (SAC) assembled 95 J-11 fighters from imported Russian components, although the original project had called for 200 aircraft, and it is likely production was stopped in anticipation of the improved J-11B.
Although based on the Su-27SK, the latest incarnation has substantial improvements including a reduced radar cross-section (RCS), strengthened airframe and an improved fire control radar as well as new flight control system, glass cockpit and engine.
The improvements are planned to nake the aircraft to a fourth generation platform; the Yanliang Flight Test Center currently has three J-11B under testing (No 521, No 523 and No 524).
The most significant change for the aircraft is improved stealth; the changes are planned to bring the RCS from the 15 sqm of the Su-27 to under 5 sqm and possible as low as 3 sqm.
The change is not to the dynamic shape of the aircraft but involves the modification of the air intake lip with a radar wave shield and the installation of radar absorbing materials on the intake interior. In addition the RCS will be reduced with Chinese made signature reduction paint.
The strengthening of the airframe, a key aspect since the life expectancy of the aircraft has been criticised by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, has been achieved through wind-tunnel tests of weapons carriage.
Additionally, the empty weight of the aircraft has been reduced by about 700 kg through the use of composite materials.
It is believed a further 10,000 hours has been added to the life of the aircraft compared with the Su-27SK.
The radar installed on the J-11B is believed to be more powerful than the Type 1473 installed on the J-10; it is estimated to be able to track 20 targets and simultaneously lock onto six targets.
J-11B will incorporate a quadruply-redundant digital fly-by-wire flight control system with mechanical back-up. Additionally, the aircraft has a fully glass cockpit but there are two variants - a reflecting head-up display (HUD) with four multi-function displays (MFDs) and a holographic HUD with three MFDs.
It is likely the former cockpit is for ground attack and the latter for air combat. The new cockpits integrate fire control radar, electro-optic countermeasure pods and infra-red search and track.
The improved radar and cockpit have allowed for the integration of newer weapons such as the CATIC PL-12 active radar-guided air-to-air missile.
The J-11 AL-31F engine will be replaced with the WS10A turbofan, providing longer lifespan and reduced fuel consumption.
Beyond J-12, China has plans for a carrier borne J-13, unlikely to be realised before 2015; the J-14, which is planned as a competitor to Lockheed Martin’s F-22, on the distant horizon at 2018; a two-seat J-11BS (2009); a naval J-11J (2010) and two-seat J-11JS (2011); and an improved J-13G and a navalised J-13J (2017).
More aircraft and unmanned combat aerial vehicles are being considered for even further in the future but new aircraft types will need to rise above the financial, political and industrial challenges that are likely to plague the programmes.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
BELGAUM, India - A week of China-India army joint anti-terrorism training kicked off on Saturday with performances of tai chi and Indian martial arts.
The 'Hand in Hand 2008' training is scheduled to end on December 12.
Qin Xiangyou, who is in charge of Chinese soldiers participating in the sessions, said during opening ceremonies that the joint training was aimed at promoting the two armies' mutual understanding and trust.
He also said it was a way for the armies to develop their friendship, and expand the fields for exchanges and cooperation.
After the ceremony, Chinese and Indian soldiers displayed their weapons.
Moreover, Chinese soldiers performed tai chi and anti-terror shooting skills, while their Indian counterparts put on a display of the country's traditional martial arts.
During the sessions, the soldiers will train in anti-terror shooting and raids, exchange views on anti-terror theories and civilian and judicial issues, and carry out comprehensive drills with the theme of closing, controlling and searching.
China and India conducted their first anti-terror joint training in southwest China's Yunnan province last year.
China and India are the world's biggest developing countries. Peace and friendship between them is not only in the interests of both countries, but also important for bringing peace, stability and prosperity to South Asia, Ouyang Wei, professor of the University of National Defense, said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Friday.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
By Andrei Chang
Hong Kong, China — Ukraine and China have been engaged in negotiations on the joint design of a large military transport aircraft, according to sources in the Ukrainian Antonov Aircraft Company. The agreement was expected to be inked this month, with the aircraft project to begin soon afterward.
According to a source in the Ukrainian military industry, the basic design concept of the aircraft has already been finalized. The Chinese military transport aircraft will adopt different design concepts and technologies than the An-70 transport aircraft designed by Ukraine and Russia, the source said, and will be powered by four jet engines. Additional technical details of the transport aircraft are to be finalized after the November signing.
In recent years, China has greatly reinforced its strategic military ties with Ukraine in a variety of areas, but this is the two countries’ first collaboration in developing a large aircraft. A source from the Russian aviation industry says that China did not ask for Russian assistance on this project, suggesting that China is shifting its design cooperation away from Russia and toward Ukraine. It also indicates that the new aircraft will be an upgrade of the An-70 rather than a duplication of it.
China expressed keen interest in the An-70 as early as the mid-1990s, when the aircraft was undergoing flight tests in Russia and Ukraine. The aircraft did not get off to an auspicious start, however. The first prototype was tested in Kiev, Ukraine, in December, 1994, but the same plane crashed the following year. The second prototype was damaged in an accident at Omsk, Russia, in 2001.
In 2002, Russia and Ukraine agreed to each take a 50 percent stake in the project, and two more prototypes were manufactured. But by April, 2006, following the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, Russia decided to withdraw from the project.
The aircraft is still under test. The Ukrainian Air Force appears to be the only buyer, having announced its intent to procure five of the An-70s. China’s decision to design its own large military transport aircraft on the foundation of the An-70 technologies is apparently intended to take advantage of the extensive testing the aircraft has already undergone, to save research and development time.
The Anatov source has confirmed the Chinese military transport aircraft will not be fitted with the An-70’s D-27 engine, though it did not disclose what type of engine will be used. The D-27 has an output thrust power of 14,000 horsepower, maximum payload of 47 tons and a flight range of 6,600 kilometers (with a payload of 20 tons).
China has recently imported 240 D-30 KP-2 engines from Russia to use in upgrading its H-6K bombers. It is unlikely that this engine would be used for the military transport plane, however. Russia is already replacing some of the D-30KP-2 engines on its Il-76 airlifter with upgraded D-30 KP-3 or PS-90 engines. The D-30KP-2 does not meet Europe’s latest noise control standards, so the Il-76 aircraft powered by these engines are not allowed to land at European airports.
The dispute over a deal involving China’s import of 38 Russian aircraft – 30 Il-76 transport aircraft and eight Il-78 air-to-air refueling tankers – has not been completely resolved. The Russian side insists that the price of the aircraft agreed in a 2005 deal is no longer viable.
The Il-76 is still the mainstay export platform for Russia, hence Russia has not agreed to transfer its production technology to China, nor have the two sides initiated negotiations on this particular issue, according to a source from the Russian aviation industry. It is because of this that China has turned its attention to Ukraine.
Alexander Mikheev, vice president of Rosoboronexport, Russia’s official defense industry exporter, told the author in a recent interview at a U.K. air show that China still intended to pursue the negotiations on the Il-76 and Il-78 aircraft, and the contract was still in effect.
“We demanded to re-discuss the price of the aircraft,” said Mikheev. He denied that a price had already been agreed upon, however. “We are only demanding that the new price should be in line with the international standard,” he said.
Regarding the timeline of resuming production and assembling the aircraft, he stressed that Russia had already allocated funds to build a new factory at Ulianovsk, and the production of the Il-76 transport aircraft would begin in 2011.
China does not have much experience in the design and production of large transport aircraft, nor are its current projects in this area proceeding smoothly. An example is the Y8F-600 medium-sized military transport plane, for which Antonov agreed in 2002 to provide design assistance.
Even though reports from China claim the plane has already been tested, a source from the Ukrainian aviation industry says its maiden flight has been repeatedly put off and has yet to take place.
According to the original design, the Y8F-600 is powered by four PW150B turboprop engines produced by Pratt & Whitney Canada, with British R408 propellers. Test engines have been delivered to China from Canada, purportedly for use in civilian aircraft.
Yet due to pressure from the United States to restrict exports of military technology to China, it is questionable whether Canada will ultimately allow the export of enough P&W engines to meet China’s production needs. Under this circumstance, China will have no choice but to use Russian or Ukrainian engines in its military transport aircraft.
(Andrei Chang is editor-in-chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto, Canada.)
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
SEOUL (AFP) — South Korea and China on Monday opened military hotlines to help prevent clashes in the Yellow Sea, officials said.
The lines opened between the two countries' navy and air force command headquarters, the defence ministry said. South Korea said it became the only nation to have such arrangements with China.
"The opening of hotlines will help the two nations prevent accidantal clashes," the ministry said in a statement.
They will also help the two upgrade their "strategic" partnership and millitary ties, it said.
The two former foes in the 1950-1953 Korean War have recently increased military cooperation amid expanding economic ties.
They aim to reduce tensions in the Yellow Sea, where Chinese vessels engage in illegal fishing, and also safeguard maritime trade there.
South Korea's air force has operated a communications hotline with Japan since 1997, and the Navy established a hotline with Russia in 2000.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Venezuela is buying 18 K-8 jet trainers from China. Also known as the JL-8, it uses the 770 pound, 9.5 foot long Ukrainian Motor Sich AI-25TLK (3,300 pounds of thrust) jet engines, to power the 4.3 ton, two seat aircraft. Originally, China was going to use 3600 pound thrust American engines, but after the 1989 Chinese crackdown on pro-democracy groups, the United States cut off the supply of engines. This encouraged China to design and build a similar engine (the WS-11). But China has had a hard time mastering the precise technologies and manufacturing techniques needed to build jet engines. So it has been buying the AI-25TLK instead.
The K-8 entered service in 1994, and over 500 have been built. The aircraft can be fitted with a 23mm cannon, and carry nearly a ton of missiles and bombs. Egypt and Pakistan also use the K-8, and Venezuela will begin receiving them in about two years.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Chinese navy ship (CNS) Zhenghe enters the Sihanoukville Port of Cambodia, Nov. 5, 2008, thus starting its 9-day official goodwill visit and the first ever entry of Chinese military boat into the Kingdom of Cambodia.
The crew members of Chinese navy ship ( CNS) Zhenghe line up on board at the Sihanoukville Port of Cambodia, Nov. 5, 2008, as Zhenghe entered the Sihanoukville Port on Wednesday morning, thus starting its 9-day official goodwill visit and the first ever entry of Chinese military boat into the Kingdom of Cambodia.(Xinhua Photo)
SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese navy ship (CNS) Zhenghe entered the Sihanoukville Port on Wednesday morning, thus starting its 9-day official goodwill visit and the first ever entry of Chinese military boat into the Kingdom of Cambodia.
While docking here, this ocean-going training vessel with 411 crew members will be open for the public on Nov. 7 and its staff is to hold volleyball and football matches with the Cambodian navy troops based at the port city, said a press release from the Chinese Embassy.
On Wednesday evening, Cambodian Minister of Defense Tea Banh and Commander in Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) Ke Kim Yan attended the reception banquet held to celebrate the arrival of the ship.
Both of them wished the bilateral military cooperation and exchange between the two countries to further develop and flourish.
Another banquet will be held on Thursday for the crew members to meet with the local Chinese Cambodian community, according to the release.
CNS Zhenghe was put into service in 1987 and once visited the United States, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Russia.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Airshow China: Chinese companies unveil latest UAV designs
The full extent of Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) development has been revealed for the first time at Airshow China, where more than a dozen aircraft have been unveiled by a string of state-run defence companies.
The wide range of UAV and unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) designs on show at the 4-9 November event in Zhuhai - some at the concept stage, some still in testing and others entering production - also demonstrated the culture of intense competition that exists between the various elements of China's military-industrial complex in the UAV sphere, not to mention the wealth of options open to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) when it comes to placing orders.
The number of UCAV designs further showed the progress being made by the Chinese military towards achieving its goal of being able to conduct 'informationised' warfare.
Among the new aircraft on display was the CH-3 medium-range, long-endurance UCAV developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). A CASC spokesman told Jane's that the CH-3 had completed testing and was now entering production (a CASC film confirmed the aircraft was already flying, although without a payload).
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Taipei - China's East Sea Fleet took delivery of its first 10,000-ton hospital ship on Oct. 23, dubbed Ship 866.
It is designed and outfitted for both wartime and peacetime operations. A photo of the ship appears to show a rear helicopter deck.
"The carrier features high-tech, comprehensive functions and facilities equivalent to level-three class A hospitals," said the government-run People's Daily.
"It marks an important breakthrough in maritime emergency equipment manufacturing for China, making the country one of the few in the world that has medical care and emergency rescue capabilities on the high seas while also raising the capability of the Chinese navy to accomplish diversified military missions," said the People's Daily.
China has expanded its participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions over the past 10 years with deployments to Africa and the Middle East. There are also undeclared military personnel in Africa protecting Chinese assets and working as military advisers.
The Chinese navy only has two other hospital ships. The navy converted two 2,150-ton Qiongsha-class attack transport ships into hospital ships in the 1990s, the 832 and 833. The ships are deployed with the South Sea Fleet for operations in the South China Sea. A total of six Qiongsha-class attack transports were built in Guangzhou during the 1980s.
Monday, November 3, 2008
ZHUHAI, China (AFP) — China's only international airshow opened here on Tuesday as the host nation looked to take another step on its ambitious journey to rival the global players of the aerospace industry.
Around 600 civil and military manufacturers, suppliers and designers have gathered in the southern city of Zhuhai for the biennial Airshow China, which lasts until Sunday.
The list of exhibitors was headed by the two manufacturing giants of the industry, Boeing of the United States and Europe's Airbus, but China was also expected to announce a landmark overseas sale of homemade commercial planes.
The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (CACC) was expected to confirm it has sold 25 of its jets to a US company, thought to be General Electric's leasing unit, according to state media reports.
The firm has designed China's first homemade jet, the 70-seater ARJ21 -- it stands for Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century -- and reports have said the contract will be worth 735 million dollars.
"To fly Chinese large aircraft in the blue sky is not just the will of the government, but the whole nation," CACC's president Jin Zhuanglong told an aviation conference in Zhuhai on Monday.
Lin Zuoming, president of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, a key backer of CACC, highlighted the ambition of the nascent industry.
"The goal for AVIC is to realise 1,000 billion yuan (145 billion US dollars) of revenue sales by 2017 and (be) close to becoming one of the world-class aviation industry players," he told the same conference.
AVIC plans to acquire a foreign aircraft manufacturer to strengthen its development capabilities, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported Tuesday, citing Tan Weidong, president of subsidiary AVIC General Airplane Company.
An acquisition agreement was likely to be signed by the end of this year, Tan said, without identifying the foreign company.
Laurence Barron, president of Airbus China, said his firm welcomed competition from Chinese manufacturers, but added it would be a long time before they vied for global dominance.
"It is going to be a tough challenge," Barron told AFP in an interview.
"But we have seen China meet its challenges, particularly in space. We should not underestimate their will and their ability, and the fact that they are prepared to look at it as a long-term objective."
Boeing and Airbus remain bullish about the long-term demand for new aircraft in China despite the global financial meltdown .
There are early signs China has not escaped the drop-off that has hit the global industry, with both analysts and airlines warning of a "cold winter" of slowing passenger demand.
However, Boeing research released last week estimated China will need 3,710 new commercial planes worth 390 billion dollars over the next 20 years.
Airbus is also optimistic, but will not be announcing any major new deals at Zhuhai, Barron said, although he added that was normal for Chinese airshows.
In 2007, China's air traffic soared 16.8 percent to 387.6 million passenger trips, on the back of 16.7 percent growth in 2006, state media reported.
The demand has sparked a similar boom in airport construction, with around 100 new airports planned by 2020.
Friday, October 31, 2008
NEW DELHI, In a first ever visit by a Chinese Navy chief to India, Admiral Wu Shengli will arrive in New Delhi on Saturday. He is slated to hold
discussions with defence minister A K Antony and his Indian counterpart Admiral Sureesh Mehta to boost military confidence-building measures.
This comes at a time when India and China are jostling for the same strategic space in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to secure their energy and other needs. India, of course, does not want this "competition" to escalate into "conflict".
With China on course to acquire aircraft carriers, the one capability lacking in its otherwise potent naval force, its Navy chief is especially keen to get a first-hand look at India's operation of 'INS Viraat' and its Sea Harrier jump-jets.
"Apart from holding talks with Antony and Admiral Mehta during his visit from November 1 to 5, he will be visiting the Western Naval Command at Mumbai, the naval airbase at Goa and the upcoming naval base at Karwar," said an official.
Indian and Chinese armed forces have been incrementally building up their military ties, which in December 2007 led to the first-ever joint counter-terrorism exercise between the two armies at Kunming, with the return exercise planned at Belgaum in India this December.
Apart from other concerns, India remains worried about strategic moves by China in maritime domain. In keeping with the "string of pearls" strategic construct, China is forging linkages with eastern Africa, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia, among others, in a bid to encircle India.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
By JORGE RUEDA
EL SOMBRERO, Venezuela (AP) — Chinese and Venezuelan scientists hovered over radar screens, a Russian combat jet flew overhead and satellite dishes tilted toward the skies as Venezuela tracked the launch of its first satellite on Wednesday.
President Hugo Chavez has increasingly turned toward the East for help in technological development, and his latest endeavor — at a cost of some $406 million — will help him spread his revolutionary message across Latin America.
A rocket launched from China's western Sichuan province carried the 5.1-ton satellite into space and it is supposed to reach its final orbit 21,900 miles (36,500 kilometers) above the earth next week.
It will begin carrying radio, television and other data transmissions in early 2009 after three months of tests.
Chavez watched the launch by television with Bolivian President Evo Morales at an observation center just south of Venezuela's capital.
"This is a satellite for freedom," Chavez said in a nationally televised address following the launch.
The Simon Bolivar Satellite — named after the Latin American independence hero — is part of the Venezuelan leader's drive for technological independence from the U.S. and tighter ties with Latin America.
The satellite could potentially serve military purposes such as listening in on telephone conversations, but Venezuelan officials insist their intentions are peaceful.
After rejecting offers from France and Russia to build the satellite, Chavez turned to China in 2004. The socialist leader has been building up Venezuela's military and its technology with help from Russia, China and Iran.
Information Minister Andres Izarra said the satellite will help expand the reach of the Caracas-based Telesur television network, which is financed mostly by Venezuela.
Uruguay joined Venezuela in the project, donating an orbit to which it has rights in exchange for 10 percent of the satellite's transmission capacity.
"The agreement yields great benefits to Uruguay, which does not have the resources to make the investment, and for Venezuela, which does not have an orbit at its disposition," Science Minister Nuris Orihuela told The Associated Press.
With an estimated life of 15 years, the satellite will bring telecommunications coverage to a rugged part of southeastern Venezuela where land lines are difficult and costly to build and maintain.
Brazil and Argentina are the only other South American nations with their own satellites. Venezuela plans another satellite launch in 2013.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
China considers next-generation Su-33s for aircraft carrier programme
By Reuben F Johnson
China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is close to reaching a decision on the procurement of aircraft for its aircraft carrier programme, Russian industry sources have told Jane's.
Negotiations between the PLAN and the Komsomolsk-na-Amure Aviation Production Association (KnAAPO) in Russia have been held intermittently for several years, with the Chinese military said to be unsure whether to purchase a version of the Sukhoi Su-33 carrier-capable fighter or develop its own carrier aircraft based on the Chengdu J-10.
Russian sources have now told Jane's that under the current proposal the Russian in-service Su-33 would be put back into production and the PLAN would acquire 14 of this type to be used for the training phase of the programme.
This option will see a carrier aircraft delivered to the PLAN in the shortest possible timeframe.
The development of a new-configuration aircraft to be used in actual carrier operations would take place in parallel with this training programme.
"The next step will be to modernise the Su-33, which was first designed in the late 1980s, with a new set of state-of-the-art onboard systems," a KnAAPO representative told Jane's on the eve of the biennial Air Show China in late October. "What this new aeroplane is most likely to be is a combination Su-33 airframe with a radar, avionics and cockpit instrumentation that is a 'developed' configuration based on the Su-30MK2, and this will be the PLAN's operational version."
239 of 613 wordshttp://www.janes.com/news/defence/systems/jdi/jdi081028_1_n.shtml
© 2008 Jane's Information Group
Saturday, October 18, 2008
BEIJING, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- The SAS SPIOENKOP, a warship from the South African Navy, will arrive in Shanghai Thursday. The trip marks a milestone in Sino-African relations as the first African Navy ship is to pay an official visit to China.
The SAS SPIOENKOP, headed by Captain Christopher Manig, will be docked in east China's financial hub for five days.
"Commanding the SAS SPIOENKOP, on this historical visit to China, is a great personal honor in that we have followed in the footsteps of the great Chinese seafarer Zheng He, who serves as an inspiration to Navy officers all around the world," Manig said.
The ship's visit is part of a year-long celebration honoring 10 years of China-South African diplomatic ties.
Commenting on the historic voyage, Captain Manig said, "The South African Navy is extremely proud and honored to pay this first official visit to China and we are looking forward to interacting with our friends and colleagues in the Chinese navy."
Monday, October 13, 2008
Hong Kong, China — China has recently exported T85IIM main battle tanks to Uganda, according to a military industry source. But the tanks may be more for display than for defense. “This is a very small batch, intended for a military parade only,” the source said. This would be the first instance for the Ugandan army to employ China-made tanks.
The same type of main battle tank made an appearance at Sudan’s National Day military parade last year. Yet according to the source, the tanks were exported from China much earlier, possibly six or seven years ago, also in small quantity.
Military observers believe that China’s T85IIM will prove attractive to many African countries because it is cheaper than those from other countries, yet still provides sufficient combat power.
The 41-ton T85IIM MBT is fitted with a fire control system capable of maintaining vertical and horizontal stability. The tank fires mainly armor piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot, high explosive anti-tank and high explosive munitions. It uses 730-horsepower engines, which have a power-to-weight ratio of 17.8 horsepower per ton.
In recent years China has reportedly undertaken technological upgrades on the 125-mm APFSD, and the service life of the tank engine has also been improved, which are major steps forward in the country’s tank manufacturing industry.
To date, only Pakistan, Sudan and Uganda are known to have imported the T85IIM serial MBTs. Based on the T85IIM, China has also produced the T96 MBT – which has undergone two major upgrades so far – for its own People’s Liberation Army ground forces. The latest T96A2 MBT is fitted with a simplified thermal imaging system, as well as new-generation modular wedge-shaped armor.
China has also helped Sudan and other African countries upgrade the T59 tanks they imported from China in earlier years to T59D standard. The industry source disclosed details of China’s tank-upgrade programs.
First of all, with help from such countries as France, China has redesigned its third-generation thermal imaging system. Secondly, China has also upgraded its APFSDS munitions.
In addition, China has designed a 1500-horsepower engine, which has been tested on T99A2 MBTs. The reliability and efficiency of its 1500/1200-horsepower engines have also been considerably enhanced, but the export version of the MBT2000 main battle tank is still fitted with the Ukrainian-made 6TD2 1200-horsepower diesel engine.
Research and development on the 1500-horsepower tank engine is partly completed, the source said, with the major problem still being the immense size of the engine system. Because of this, the newly developed engine can only be fitted on a T99A2 MBT for testing.
As part of the testing, the T99A2 MBT has been outfitted with an active protection system similar to the Russian ARENA radar. This new millimeter-wave radar is mainly used to detect anti-tank missiles.
The thermal imaging system fitted on a T99A1 MBT is a second-generation technology; its mechanical scanning is noisy and not highly reliable. This is why this technology was not used for Pakistan’s Al-Khalid tank, co-developed with China.
The Wuhan Gaode IR Technology Group Company has jointly developed 2.5-generation infrared cooling and non-cooling technologies with the French Sofradir Company. Some IR136 third-generation cooling component parts are already used on third generation tanks, probably the T99A2 MBT.
In recent years, a key priority of China’s tank industry has been the upgrading of 125-mm caliber tank ammunitions, particularly APFSDS. China has so far upgraded APFSDS II to APFSDS IIM, both of which have a weight of 23 kilograms, but with different velocities. The APFSDS II has a velocity of 1720 meters per second, while the IIM’s velocity is 1700 meters per second.
The two types of APFSDS munitions have a penetration capacity of RHA220 mm/68.5o and RHA220mm/66.4o at a range of 2000 meters respectively. The 125-mm BTJ1 HEAT munitions have a penetration capacity of RHA180mm/68 o with behind armor effect, while the HEAT munitions displayed in earlier years have had a penetration capacity of RHA80mm/68 o with behind armor effect.
(Andrei Chang is editor-in-chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto, Canada.)
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Taiwan welcomes $6.5 billion US arms package
By DEBBY WU
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou welcomed Saturday a U.S. decision to sell the island up to $6.5 billion in advanced weaponry, ending a months-long freeze on Washington's arms sales to Taipei.
The U.S. government announced the package, which includes Apache helicopters and Patriot III missiles, in a notification to Congress on Friday. The State Department said the deal would proceed if no lawmaker voices any objection within 30 days.
The United States is required by law to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons against a possible invasion by China. It remains Taiwan's most important ally and largest arms supplier, even after Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949. China continues to claim Taiwan as part of its territory and threatens to attack if the island moves to make the break permanent.
Friday's move came three months after Admiral Timothy Keating, the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific, announced a freeze on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Analysts speculated the decision reflected U.S. reluctance to anger China before President Bush attended the Olympics in Beijing in August.
On Saturday, Taiwan's Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi thanked the U.S. and said the government wants to maintain a strong defense against any threat from China while seeking improvement in cross-strait relations.
"President Ma Ying-jeou would like to express gratitude to the U.S. for the arms package," said Wang. "A strong defense and peace in the Taiwan Strait are necessary for Taiwan's prosperity."
U.S. approval of the arms sale was unlikely to foil warming ties between Taiwan and China, said Wang Kao-cheng, an international affairs specialist at Taipei-based Tamkang University
"The weapons in the package this time are of a defensive nature, and do not pose a security threat to China," Wang said. "They will not cause tension in cross-strait relations."
Since taking office in May, Ma has turned the corner on his predecessor's hard-line China policy and pushed for better mainland ties.
He has opened the island up for an increased number of mainland tourists, and facilitated regular direct flights across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait. He has also loosened restrictions on Taiwanese investment in China, and welcomed Chinese investors to the island.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
China's first spacewalk team returns to Earth
By GILLIAN WONG
BEIJING (AP) — Three Chinese astronauts emerged from their capsule Sunday after a milestone mission to carry out the country's first spacewalk, showing off China's technological know-how and cementing its status as a space power and future competitor to the United States.
A senior space official said the mission — China's most ambitious yet — took the country one step closer in its plan to build a space station and then to land a man on the moon.
Wang Zhaoyao, deputy director of manned space flight, said the program is looking to launch a new orbiting vehicle and set up a simple space lab by 2011. There are also hopes of sending unmanned and manned space vehicles to perform docking activities with the target vehicle.
By 2020, China wants to launch a manned mission to experiment with technologies that will enable astronauts to take care of spacecraft for longer periods of time, Wang told reporters at a briefing in Beijing after a parachute brought the astronauts' capsule back to ground.
"After we have successfully completed these three steps, we will go to even more remote areas," Wang said. "We believe that as long as we can make further progress on the road of science and technology, China will achieve the target of putting a manned spacecraft on the moon in the near future."
The United States is the only country to have accomplished that feat, putting its first astronaut team on the moon in 1969. But its last human landing was in 1972, and it has since concentrated on unmanned probes.
China's communist leaders, riding a wave of pride and patriotism after hosting the Olympics, face few of the public doubts or budgetary pressures that have constrained space programs elsewhere. Saturday's spacewalk was watched by cheering crowds on huge outdoor TV screens.
State broadcaster CCTV showed the astronauts' return Sunday after their Shenzhou 7 ship's re-entry vehicle burst through the Earth's atmosphere to make a landing under clear skies in the grasslands of China's northern Inner Mongolia region.
The vessel touched ground at 5:37 p.m. after floating down gently while attached to a giant red-and-white striped parachute, marking the end of the 68-hour endeavor.
"It was a glorious mission, full of challenges with a successful end," said mission commander Zhai Zhigang, a 41-year-old fighter pilot. "We feel proud of the motherland."
Zhai, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng stayed inside the capsule after landing for about 46 minutes to adapt to Earth's gravity before slowly crawling out the narrow entrance.
Outside, the trio cheerily waved to cameras and reporters from Chinese state media before sitting down in blue fold-out chairs. They saluted as they were presented with bouquets of flowers.
Premier Wen Jiabao applauded at mission control in Beijing and shook hands with staff.
"This mission's success is a milestone; a stride forward," Wen said. "I would like to extend my congratulations to the heroic astronauts who successfully completed this mission."
The premier also reiterated Beijing's longtime stance that it is the Chinese people's "persistent aspiration" to develop space technologies for peaceful exploration.
The spacewalk was a key step in mastering techniques for docking two orbiters to create China's first orbiting space station. Tethered to handles attached to the Shenzhou 7 ship's orbital module, Zhai remained outside for about 13 minutes before climbing back inside.
China has relied heavily on homegrown technology, partly out of necessity. It has trouble obtaining such technology abroad due to U.S. and European bans and is not a participant in the International Space Station.
The Chinese program is backed by the secretive military. While Beijing insists it is committed to a peaceful program, analysts point to numerous potential applications for its technology, such as when it used a land-based missile to blast apart an old satellite last January.
China conducted its first manned space mission, Shenzhou 5, in 2003, becoming only the third country after Russia and the United States to launch a man into space. That was followed by a two-man mission in 2005.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Chinese astronaut completes nation's first space walk
BEIJING (AFP) — A Chinese astronaut Saturday became the first in his country's history to complete a space walk, a feat President Hu Jintao hailed as a "major breakthrough" for the emerging space power.
Mission commander Zhai Zhigang left the Shenzhou VII spacecraft at 4:43 pm Beijing time (0843 GMT) to float in orbit for just under 15 minutes, making China the third country to complete a space walk after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
"I feel well," said Zhai, the leader of the Shenzhou VII's three-man crew, waving to a camera outside the spacecraft. "I am greeting the Chinese people and the people of the world."
The space walk, broadcast live on television, was the highlight of the 68-hour voyage -- China's third manned foray into space -- and considered an important step towards building a space station, China's next major ambition in space.
"Your spacewalk was a complete success. It's a major breakthrough in the development of our manned space programme," Hu, standing inside the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre, told the astronaut by radio.
"The motherland and the people thank you," Hu said in the televised conversation.
The spacecraft was now due to return to Earth on Sunday at 5:00pm (0900GMT), Wang Zhaoyao, spokesman for China's manned space programme, told reporters.
The space walk was likely to stir up patriotic emotions ahead of China's October 1 National Day, which will mark the 59th anniversary of the founding of the people's republic.
Coming just days before the 50th anniversary of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, also on October 1, it also marked a potent symbol of the Asian giant's emergence as a space power.
Zhai waved a small Chinese flag shortly after climbing out of the spacecraft 343 kilometres (215 miles) over the Earth, a highly symbolic move.
Tethered to the craft with two safety wires, Zhai, 41, slowly moved towards a test sample of solid lubricant placed outside the orbital module, Xinhua news agency said.
He took the sample and handed it over to fellow astronaut Liu Boming, who stayed in the orbital module and closely monitored Zhai's moves.
The move was a drill intended to replicate the type of task that future space walkers will have to perform.
A fire alert that was heard during the live transmission of the space walk turned out to be a mistake in one of the sensors, Wang said.
enthusiasts "To be frank, at that very moment, many of us felt a little bit concerned," he said.
But he said that after finding out the alarm came from the orbital module outside of which Zhai was conducting his space walk, they relaxed as there was no oxygen in the module, which therefore could not catch fire.
"After a check, we found out that there was a sensor error, so it will not impact our continued mission, please rest assured," he said.
The spacewalk had been eagerly anticipated, while state media had also pointed out the risk associated with the activity.
An "intensive psychological shock" would be unavoidable once the astronaut left the capsule, Xinhua said earlier, citing Yang Liwei, who piloted China's maiden space flight in 2003.
The Chinese Internet offered a forum for local enthusiasts to express their pride over the fledgling space power's achievements.
"Go China! Go Zhigang! We wish you good luck!" said a typical posting on popular web portal Sina.com.
The astronauts, who took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the desert of northwest China late Thursday, had passed most of their first day in space preparing for the walk.
On Friday, Zhai and Liu spent 10 hours unpacking and assembling the special China-made space suit that was used during the walk outside the Shenzhou craft.
As part of China's space programme, two more unmanned craft will be launched by 2010, as well as another manned spaceship with a crew of three to start work on the lab or space station, according to the China Daily.
After China sent its first man into space in 2003, it followed up with a two-man mission in 2005.
The astronauts also had time Friday to enjoy the view, witnessing 16 sunrises during their first 24 hours in orbit, and to sample the 80-dish menu they brought with them on their mission.
Sleep was necessarily limited, but the spacecraft has sleeping bags hooked to the wall of the craft. However, the astronauts were told to keep their hands inside the bags in order to avoid them accidentally pushing a button while asleep, Xinhua said.
The Shenzhou VII is expected to land in the northern Inner Mongolia region on Sunday.
A previous entry on A-100 system:
Pakistan imports Chinese A-100 rocket launchers
Hong Kong, China: Pakistan is in the process of purchasing A-100 multi-rocket launch systems from China. According to a Pakistani military industry source, the contract was signed last year with the arms export company, China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation.
The initial procurement is a battalion-level system primarily for testing purposes. According to the needs of the Pakistani military, additional imports are also likely.
This is the first time for China to export the A-100 MLRS to a foreign country. South Asian military industry analysts believe that Pakistan’s procurement of the A-100 is in response to India’s acquisition of the Russian Smerch, or Tornado, MLRS. Both the Smerch and the A-100 are 300-mm calibre rocket launch systems.
In 2001, India signed a contract with Russia to purchase US$450 million worth of Smerch MLRS, which made their first appearance at India’s 2008 National Day military parade. A source from the Chinese military industry claims that the Smerch’s maximum range is 90 kilometers, while the A-100 can fire its latest submunitions as far as 120 kilometers. After being fitted with a simplified strike correction system, the A-100’s strike accuracy is increased to 33 percent.
The Pakistani military is considering a possible transfer of production site for the A-100 out of China. However, at the current stage, Pakistan will continue to import the system, according to the military industry source.
Some international analysts are of the opinion that the A-100 and the AR-2 300-mm MLRS produced by Chinese manufacturer Norinco are both imitation versions of the Russian Smerch MLRS. But the manufacturers of the A-100 and the AR-2 insist that these three types of MLRS are completely different. Neither the A-100 nor the AR-2 can fire Smerch rocket munitions, nor do they use the same propellant rocket motors or components.
In addition, China is now undertaking technological and structural upgrades of both the A-100 and AR-2 multi-rocket launch systems. These upgrades may include replacing their tube-shaped launchers with box-shaped launchers, as the former are much more expensive, cannot be quickly and easily reloaded and are more difficult to maintain. The similar AR-1 MLRS, which are fitted with box-shaped launchers, no longer require transloaders to load the rockets.
Andrei Chang is editor-in-chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto, Canada.
This article published in upiasia.com and posted here by Dr Edgar Alden
Thursday, September 25, 2008
China launches mission for first spacewalk
By WONG WAI-BOR
JIUQUAN, China (AP) — China successfully launched a three-man crew into space Thursday to carry out the country's first spacewalk, beginning the nation's most challenging space mission since it first sent a person into space in 2003.
The Shenzhou 7 spacecraft, China's third manned mission, blasted off atop a Long March 2F rocket shortly after 9 a.m. EDT under clear night skies in northwestern China.
The spacewalk by one of the astronauts is expected to take place either on Friday or Saturday.
Underscoring the mission's heavy political overtones, Chinese President and Communist Party head Hu Jintao was shown live on state television hailing the astronauts at the launch site near the northwestern town of Jiuquan.
"You will definitely accomplish this glorious and sacred mission. The motherland and the people are looking forward to your triumphant return," Hu told the three, who were dressed in their flight suits and behind glass to avoid germs.
The mission is expected to last three to four days. The spacewalk will last about 40 minutes.
The spacewalk is expected to help China master the technology for docking two orbiters to create China's first orbiting space station in the next few years.
The spacewalk could happen either Friday or Saturday depending on how well the astronauts adapt to weightlessness and other physical demands of their environment, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office.
The astronauts would return to Earth soon after the spacewalk, the office said.
The two astronauts who don spacesuits for the Shengzhou 7 spacewalk will be supported by Russian experts throughout the mission. Only one will actually leave the orbiter module to retrieve scientific experiments placed outside.
One of the astronauts will wear China's homemade Feitian suit, while the other will wear a Russian-made suit.
Fighter pilot Zhai Zhigang, an unsuccessful candidate for the previous two manned missions, has been touted by the official Xinhua News Agency as the leading astronaut to carry out the spacewalk.
Zhai and fellow astronauts and fighter pilots Jing Haipeng and Liu Boming — all age 42 — were introduced to journalists at a news conference late Wednesday.
A decade of training together ensured effective, smooth cooperation between the three, Liu said.
"The Shenzhou 7 mission marks a historic breakthrough in China's manned space program," Zhai said. "It is a great honor for all three of us to fly the mission, and we are fully prepared for the challenge."
Before the launch, Chinese Officials again expressed a desire for closer cooperation with other nations in space. But some nations, especially the United States, remain dubious of the Chinese program's military backing and are keeping Beijing at arms-length on projects such as the international space station.
"The U.S. concern is that cooperation with China could lead to a sharing of technology and expertise that could improve Chinese space and missile capabilities, which also could have military utility," the Union of Concerned Scientists, a U.S.-based group that researches the Chinese space program, said in a report issued Tuesday.
China, meanwhile, sees such restrictions as excessive and believes the U.S. aim is to "slow the pace of China's overall economic and technical progress," the group said.
China has a limited partnership with the European Space Agency on the Galileo navigation satellite network to compete with the U.S. Global Positioning System. Chinese space program officials point to such programs as signs of growing international involvement.
"International cooperation is an inevitable trend in manned space flights, which are large-scale projects with complex technologies and huge investment," Chen Shanguang, director of the China Astronaut Research and Training Center.
Chen was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying China could soon begin training astronauts for other countries, a service now provided by Russia and the United States.
Dean Cheng, who tracks Chinese military and technology issues at the U.S. Center for Naval Analysis, says China is likely to "cherry pick" successful foreign know-how, such as the Russian space suit and spacewalk expertise.
But Cheng said he doesn't foresee cooperation in the near future along the lines of the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission that brought Cold War rivals the U.S. and former Soviet Union together in space.
"I would suspect the Chinese want to advance the state of their own space capabilities before they engage in a joint mission with the Russians, if only to underscore that they are an equal in space," Cheng said.
Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Venezuela to buy Chinese combat planes: Chavez
CARACAS (AFP) — Venezuela will buy combat and training aircraft from China this week, leftist Venezuela President Hugo Chavez confirmed in a television broadcast Sunday.
The purchases will be made as part of a six-country tour, Chavez said in his broadcast of the "Alo President" television program from the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, hours before leaving on a "strategic interest" trip to Cuba, China, Russia, Belarus, France and Portugal.
Chavez, a staunch foe of the US government, confirmed that during his stay in Beijing he will purchase 24 K-8 aircraft "to train fighter pilots." The planes could be part of Venezuela's air force by next year.
The president also confirmed that while in Beijing he will arrange the construction of tanker vessels in Chinese shipyards, with the aim of installing a shipyard in Venezuela in the near future.
These plans come in addition to the construction of a refinery in China to process oil from Venezuela, and plans to create a bi-national company to install a refinery in the remote oil-rich Orinoco region in eastern Venezuela.
Caracas provides 500,000 barrels of oil per day to Beijing, a trade which is expected to increase to one million barrels a day by 2012.
Chavez, who describes China as a strategic ally, will move forward with a six billion dollar bilateral investment fund. China will contribute four billion dollars to the fund, and Venezuela two billion dollars.
Caracas will use the fund for "socialist productive projects."
"Before we had to go to Washington to beg for money. Not now. Now we negotiate with the Chinese," said Chavez.
Chavez announced that during his visit to Beijing the investment fund will benefit from an additional four billion dollars for further "development" in Venezuela.
After China, Chavez will head to Moscow.
Venezuela in recent years has been broadening its military ties to Moscow, and Chavez backed Russia in the recent Georgian conflict.
Last week, Russian supersonic Tu-160 bombers for the first time flew training runs with Venezuela in an area of the Caribbean traditionally considered the US military's sphere of influence.
Chavez's trip is expected to last until September 27.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Chinese trainer jets tilt military balance for Sudan
By ANDREI CHANG
HONG KONG, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- China's official media have released photos of K-8 fighter trainers demonstrating impressive attack power against land-based targets. The aircraft are the same model that China has exported to Sudan, ostensibly for training purposes.
However, the K-8 trainers are very much like standard attack aircraft, and their tactical application in the Sudanese air force is not only for training but also for land attack operations. The K-8 has a flight endurance of three hours and a maximum flight range of 1,300 miles, and its combat radius covers the whole of Sudan's territory.
Although all trainer aircraft have some land-attack capability, the K-8 aircraft that China has sold to Sudan are different from those in service in China's People's Liberation Army air force in that they are fitted with 23mm machine-gun pods.
Along with the trainer planes, HF-20 rocket launchers were also exported to Sudan. The Chinese-made HF-20 rocket launcher is an unauthorized imitation of the Russian S-8 rocket launcher.
The HF-20 rocket launcher has impressive destructive power. It has a firing rate of 0.05 seconds per round and a strike range of 3,900 to 13,100 feet, and the rocket can carry different types of warheads, such as high-explosive or armor-piercing warheads.
China has also exported A-5 attack aircraft to the Sudanese air force. Since it already has the A-5 attackers, the question arises as to why Sudan would need the more powerful K-8 trainer/attacker.
The author's analysis is that the K-8 trainer is useful for the fundamental training of Sudan's air force pilots, and at the same time it supplements the A-5 as an attack aircraft, since the air force lacks a sufficient number of these planes. The combat load of this trainer craft has been increased to 1 ton; the A-5 has a combat load of 2 tons, and there is no great difference between the two in attack power.
Judging from photos of the A-5s released by the Sudanese air force, the aircraft is not the same as the A-5E that was upgraded after 2005. The biggest difference between the two aircraft is that the A-5 has a blade-shaped communications antenna on the back of the cockpit; this can be seen on the planes exported to Sudan.
The latest model, the A-5E, does not have such a communications antenna but is equipped with a laser designator. The A-5E is mainly intended to carry Chinese-made laser-guided bombs.
China also has exported K-8 aircraft to Zambia and other African countries, presumably for actual training purposes. Africa is the main recipient of the Chinese trainer aircraft; they have become the key weapon for China to exchange for oil from these countries. China claims that 80 percent of the trainer aircraft in African air forces are K-8s.
Egypt is China's biggest customer for these trainers. With authorization from China, the Egyptian air force has manufactured 80 K-8s and is currently negotiating a deal for the production of a second batch of 40 aircraft.
The K-8 was jointly developed and produced by China and Pakistan, with Pakistan providing the funding for research and development, according to a Chinese source. As a consequence, Pakistan has participated in the export of K-8 trainers to Muslim countries, and Pakistan also receives a share of the sales and profits.
(Andrei Chang is editor in chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto.)
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Spotlight On PLA Navy's New LPD and LHD
By Prasun K. Sengupta
China's PLA Navy (PLAN) on July 6 commissioned its first of six Type 071 Landing Platform Docks (LPD) that will be used for both tri-services operational logistics as well as civilian disaster relief operations. The vessel, with pennant number 998, is now operational with the Navy's South Sea Fleet and has on board four Z-8K heavylift helicopters. The state-owned China State Shipbuilding & Trading Corp (CSTC), a subsidiary of the China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC), had on December 21, 2006 launched the first LPD at its Shanghai-based Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding facility and this vessel early last September began her sea trials. A modified variant of the Type 071 LPD is also being offered for export to Malaysia by CSTC, which is leading a formidable consortium of Chinese companies that will include China North Industries Corp (NORINCO), China Electronics Trading Corp International (CETC), and guided-missile manufacturer China National Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp (CPMIEC) in its bid to win the Malaysian contract. The Royal Malaysian Navy has projected a requirement for at least two such LPDs, which it calls the multi-role support ship (MRSS).
The Type 071 LPD has an overall length of 150 metres, waterline length of 140 metres, moulded beamwidth of 30 metres, waterline breadth of 24.5 metres, moulded depth of 20 metres, draught of 5.9 metres, full displacement of 14,000 tonnes, cruising speeds of up to 20 Knots, range of 6,000nm at 18 Knots, endurance of 60 days, a crew complement comprising 30 officers and 145 other ranks, a stern-mounted helicopter deck housing four heavylift helicopters, a 4-metre wide 308-lane metre internal vehicle garage, a deck-mounted flight deck measuring 50 metres by 30 metres, 450 square-metre internal hospital deck, a twin-door cantilever hangar measuring 18.5 metres by 23 metres by 8 metres, and a dry dock measuring 40.4 metres by 15.4 metres by 8 metres. The LPD thus incorporates the features of a troop transport ship, amphibious assault support ship, logistics support ship for submarine escape-and-rescue operations, aviation support ship, field hospital ship (with a surgical unit operating for a minimum of 30 days), and a combined forces command-and-control vessel leading a power projection-oriented naval task force. The vessel is also capable of transporting 800 fully equipped troops along with related tracked/wheeled vehicles, six medium-lift assault hovercraft in times of conflict for a period of 14 days, and will also be able to replenish at sea. Alternatively, the vessel will be able to carry 400 troops, a 50-tonne main battle tank, one hovercraft, four LCMs, four LCVPs, and up to four heavylift helicopters. For export customers, CSTC plans to finish construction of the first Type 071 LPD within 45 months of contract signature. CSTC will take three months to complete initial design work, followed by six months of technical design activity, eight months for construction design, seven months for construction preparation, 12 months for hull construction and installation of machinery, a one-month period for launching the vessel, five months for vessel outfitting alongside in the shipyard, two months of harbour and sea trials, and less than a month for finalising the delivery process.
The Type 071 LPD's hull and superstructure are reformed--the hull has flaring sides, while the superstructure has a 10º inclination for the sidewalls and a 15º for the frontal and aft walls. To eliminate cavity reflection, large openings are avoided and the observation windows at the bridge and the aviation command-and-control centre use shielded glass. Helicopters from the cantilever hangars will be transferred into and out of the hangar via an integrated helicopter handling system, with the hangers being able to cater for at least 21 days of continuous helicopter operations. The vessel's maximum persistent pitch and roll are 5º and 15º, respectively. When running at 18 Knots cruising speed with a pair of anti-rolling fins in operation, the residual roll angle at 5-6 sea states will not exceed 4º. The on-board equipment is able to withstand the 45º rolling for 8~10-second periods and persistent ±15º list. The LPD's integrated CODAD propulsion, controlled by an automated propulsion control system, comprises four MTU 20V956TB92 diesel engines each rated at 8,840hp (6.5mW). The engines have single-step vibration isolators, while the generators have double-step vibration dampers. The twin reduction gearboxes with associate clutches and coupling are rigidly mounted and drive twin low-cavitation controllable pitch noise propellers. Twin thrusters are installed at the bow to satisfy the manoeuvrability requirements, while two streamlined and balance spade rudders are fitted to maintain a stable position with respect to 20 Knots wind speed and 3 Knots underwater current. The crew accommodation area is divided into five classes, i.e. Captain, executive officers, engineering officers, department officers, first sergeant and seamen.
Two separate air-conditioning systems independent of one another are installed, with one as a standby unit. Each such system is capable of completely cooling the vessel continuously between 18° and 23° Celsius and 55% relative humidity at maximum ship load (with all machinery and equipment running). The humidity and temperature of the specialised compartments are regulated independently. The vessel's twin fresh water generators are each capable of generating up to 50 tonnes of fresh water per day, with additional fresh water storage being provided for the at-sea replenishment of other ships at a rate of 100 tonnes a day. An integral pumping system comprises pumps at the bilge bay, plus others in the ballast tanks along with fire pumps, with cross-connection and isolation modes of operation being incorporated. For removing oily bilge water from machinery compartments, a bilge water de-oiler compatible with IMO regulations has been installed. The vessel has adopted a three-phase and three-line AC basic power supply system. The main power generating diesel engines are located in the engine and auxiliary propulsion rooms, which are in two separate compartments for damage control reason. All generators feed one switchboard of the dead-front type and are totally enclosed. An integrated switchboard to control all converted power supplies for communications and navigation equipment is fitted.
The on-board weapon systems suite includes four six-barrel 30mm CIWS (with a maximum rate of fire of 5,800 rounds/minute) aft of the funnels and above the helicopter deck facing portside and starboard, and one AK-176 main gun. The vessel's bridge is equipped with an integrated platform management system while the combat information centre (CIC), supplied by the state-owned China Electronics Trading Corp International (CETC), is located behind the bridge in a hardened citadel and is configured to also function as a joint operations command-and-control station, deck and aviation control centre, and a vehicles and troop movements control centre. The bridge also hosts consoles for a low probability of intercept (LPI) marine navigation radar with slave and master display modes, an ECDIS electronic chart display system conforming to IHO S57 standard and operating with CM93 electronic charts, a wind and speed direction instrument with digital display on the bridge, CIC and helicopter hangar. Two ring-laser gyrocompasses with transmission units give azimuth output to various navigational systems, including those for air operations. An electromagnetic log sensor fitted to the hull provides digital speed and distance readings for navigation. A log repeater is housed on the bridge, as is an echo sounder with metric scales with an external digital display, magnetic compass forward and aft of the steering position, an emergency conning station, a differential GPS with a printer, and a single switch to interrupt the supply of all non-essential external lighting in darkened ship's state. The LPD's integrated communications system-comprising HF/VHF/UHF transceivers and SATCOMS-provides for broadband, secure ship-shore, ship-to-ship, ship-to-air and ship-to-submarine communications via voice, image and data through internet, intranet and telephone networks where applicable. An underwater telephone (in accordance with STANAG 1074) has also been installed.
In late 2006, the PLAN's HQ finalised the indigenous design of the Type 081 LHD following conclusion of the third critical design review. Subsequently, the Dalian-based and Wuhan-based shipyards of the state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIC) were awarded contracts to undertake detailed engineering drawings using TRIBON design software for various bulkheads and compartments of the LHD. Present plans call for Dalian Shipyard to build three LHDs and Wuhan Shipyard to build another three. Smaller work packages will be executed by the state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corp's (CSSC) Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group Co Ltd and Jiangnan Shipyard, whose shipbuilding yards are located on both sides of the Huangpu River in Shanghai. On-board sensors and systems identical to those on board the Type 071 LPD will be installed on board the Type 081 LHD, with the principal differences being the top-deck superstructure that will house the island (incorporating the bridge and CIC) as well as a flat-top deck capable of housing eight heavylift helicopters, twin elevators, one Type 730 CIWS, and an internal hangar housing four additional helicopters, a maintenance bay and an armaments stowage area.
The PLAN's Shanghai Research Institute has been spearheading its plans for acquiring a fleet of 64,000-tonne aircraft carriers, LPDs, and helicopter landing decks (LHD) for the past 25 years. In the early 1980s, water-tunnel scale-models of such vessels were constructed and tested in the Institute's 600-metre (656-yard) pool and at Tai Lake in Jiangsu Province. In 1985 the PLAN began a training course for future aircraft carrier/LPD/LHD commanders at its Guangzhou Naval Academy. In January 1993, the PLAN decided to firm up plans for acquiring a 64,000-tonne displacement aircraft carrier under the 9935 Shipbuilding Programme. In parallel, work began on expanding and upgrading the PLAN's naval bases and harbours in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Yulin and Dalian. In 1995-1996 two European countries-France and Spain--approached China for industrial cooperation in LPD/LHD technologies. In February 1995 the Spanish shipbuilder Empresa Nacional Bazan (now Navantia) offered to build for the PLAN a low-cost, lightweight conventional-takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) aircraft carrier-cum-LHD. Navantia proposed two designs: the 23,000-tonne SAC-200 (overall length 728 feet, or 221.8 metres) LPD; and the 25,000-tonne SAC-220 (overall length 787 feet, or 240 metres) LHD. The cost of building either of the two vessels would be US$400 million. The SAC-220 could accommodate up to 21 CTOL combat aircraft or medium-lift helicopters. According to Navantia, the first carrier could be delivered within five years, with the second 42 months later. At the time, Navantia was constructing the 11,500-tonne aircraft carrier 'Chakri Naruebet' for the Royal Thai Navy and was eager to secure further orders in East Asia. China expressed an interest in the proposal, and initial talks between the COSTIND and Navantia were held in January 1996. However, according to Navantia officials, COSTIND officials seemed more interested in obtaining the blueprints of the aircraft carrier than in ordering the actual vessel off-the-shelf. In November 1997, however, Beijing had shelved plans to build fixed-wing aircraft carriers in favour of smaller LHDs and LPDs. In 1999 the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee and the State Council had earmarked Yuan250 million for the design and construction of one LHD and one LPD.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
BEIJING - China will launch its third manned space mission in late September, featuring its first-ever space walk, a state news agency said.
The Shenzhou 7 launch is to take place between Sept. 25 and 30, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late Saturday.
The spacecraft will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gansu province, the agency said, citing a spokesman from the center.
It will carry three astronauts into space, one of whom will conduct a space walk, the report said, citing Zhao Changxi, a senior scientist with the project.
The space walk will be broadcast live using cameras mounted on the inside and outside of the spacecraft, Xinhua said.
In 2003, China became the third country in the world — along with the United States and Russia — to send a human into orbit. It followed with a two-man mission in 2005.
China launched a moon probe last year about one month after rival Japan blasted its own lunar orbiter into space.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Rocket calibre: 300mm
Rocket length: 7,300mm
Rocket weight: 840kg
Warhead: 235kg, ~500 submunitions
Firing range: 40~100km
Reloading time: 20 minutes
Launch vehicle road speed: 60km/h
Launch vehicle travelling range: 650km