Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shen Zhou 7 mission successfully completed

Mission successful ! Good work China !

China's first spacewalk team returns to Earth


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

Congratulations China !

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

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.

Pakistan imports Chinese A-100 rocket launchers

A-100 is an excellent MRLS weapon, its export potential is great.
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 and posted here by Dr Edgar Alden

Thursday, September 25, 2008

China's three Taikonauts successfully launched into the space !

Another milestone in China's space development!

China launches mission for first spacewalk


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 24 K-8 Trainer plane from China

K-8 trainer plane is making the news again.

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

K-8 Trainer has been a successful Chinese aircraft on the international market.

Chinese trainer jets tilt military balance for Sudan


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

China's new Type 071 Landing Platform Docks (LPD)

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

China to launch space mission in late September;_ylt=Ap_UMQzHN7aG6jgNTmEhCSgDW7oF

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


The A-100 is the 300mm, 10-tube multiple launch rocket system developed by Beijing-based China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT, also known as 1st Space Academy) for the PLA ground forces. In many aspects, the system is very similar to the Russian Smerch 9K58 300mm rocket system. Its rocket is fitted with a primitive guidance system for greater accuracy. In 2002 the rocket system was spotted in service with the PLA 1st Artillery Division in Guangzhou Military Region, possibly for trial and evaluations.


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

Monday, September 1, 2008

Taiwan to cut military spending amid warming China ties

Taiwan to cut military spending amid warming China ties

TAIPEI (AFP) — Taiwan plans to scale back its military spending in 2009 amid warming ties with rival China, it was reported Saturday.

Military spending will be 315.2 billion Taiwan dollars (10 billion US), a decline of 10.4 billion Taiwan dollars on this year, the United Daily News said, citing a draft budget pending parliament's approval.

It will account for 17.2 percent of next year's government budget, the report said, but the move has drawn criticism from opposition lawmakers.

"I'm worried that the decline in military expenditures may send a wrong signal to the United States and Japan that Taiwan is short of determination to defend itself against China," said Tsai Huang-lang of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence. Beijing still regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting to be reunified, by force if necessary, although the island has governed itself since 1949 at the end of a civil war.

However, tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since Taiwan's China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou was elected in March on a platform to boost the economy and improve ties with China.

Separately, the foreign ministry's budget to cement ties with existing diplomatic allies or to seek new ones will be reduced by 6.0 percent from this year to 3.8 billion Taiwan dollars.

The foreign ministry said the budget cut was in line with Ma's call for an end to the decades-old competition for diplomatic recognition between Taipei and Beijing.

Both sides have often used generous financial packages to influence governments, particularly in Africa, Latin America and the Pacific, to ensure loyalty or persuade them to switch recognition.

Only 23 nations formally recognise Taiwan over China.