Wednesday, February 25, 2009

CCTV releases footage of Chengdu J-10 aircraft manufacturing plant

CCTV gives a rare glimpse of the Chengdu aircraft manufacturing plant.
The facility looks modern and organized, it is capable of churning out 10
J-10 fighter jets a month.

Friday, February 20, 2009

China's J-11B is more advanced than Su-27SK

J-11B cockpit
Hong Kong, China — Based on the design of the Russian Sukhoi Su-27SK fighter, China has come up with its own domestic version, the J-11B multi-function fighter. Three J-11B prototypes have been manufactured since 2006. After their factory flight tests, they have been evaluated by the People's Liberation Army Air Force 1st Fighter Division, based in Anshan in China's northeast Liaoning province.

A Chinese military industry source has confirmed that pre-production of the fighters will begin this year. "We will not need to assemble more Su-27SKs, because it is old technology given from Russia," the source said.

The J-11B has undergone drastic changes from the original Russian design. A source from the Chinese aerospace industry says that except for the Russian-made engines, 90 percent of the major subsystems fitted on the J-11B, including the radar and optical electronic systems, are made by China. The Chinese aviation company AVIC 1 has already completed testing the 1474 serial radar system to be deployed in the J-11B. The fighter's weapons will also integrate indigenous systems.

A Chinese pilot with more than 20 years of flight experience expressed his high opinion of the Su-27 fighter, describing it as "very easy to fly."

However, as the source from the Chinese military industry points out, some of the parts used on the Su-27SK have a very short lifespan, which has led to a high rate of technical accidents. For instance, frequent problems with the fighter's infrared search and track system have restricted its use in the regular training of combat forces.

To investigate this issue, the author paid a special visit to the Ural Optical and Mechanical Complex in Ekaterinburg, Russia. A Russian source revealed that the company had signed two contracts with a Chinese company to supply parts for an updated IRST system, the OLS-31E. Execution of the contract, valued at US$1 million, began in 2007.

Research and development of the China-made IRST system to be fitted on the J-11B fighters is already completed. The physical appearance of this new IRST is very close to the original Russian OLS-31E, making it appear to be an imitation edition of the Russian system with some upgrades. In fact, the overall performance of the J-11B is now on a par with the Russian-edition Su-27SMK.

The J-11B's fire control radar system uses mechanical scanning, integrates more functions and features a modular design. The fighter also features substantial changes in the fire control system and the cockpit so the J-11B will be able to fire China's indigenous PL-12 air-to-air missiles and a whole series of other precision-guided weapons. The cockpit has three large color multifunctional displays and two small color multifunctional displays.

In recent years, China's pace of development in airborne equipment has been very fast. The design of its J-10B cockpit has been quite precocious; the rear cockpit seems to have four multifunctional color displays and two small multifunctional displays.

In addition, the J-11B will be fitted with China's indigenous strapdown inertial navigation system, 3-axix data system, power supply system, emergency power unit, brake system, hydraulic system, fuel system, environment control system and molecular sieve oxygen generation systems.

The fact that China is producing a large proportion of the J-11B parts domestically indicates that its demand for parts imported from Russia will decline dramatically during the second phase of the fighter's production. Also, some of the subsystems and equipment are compatible with those used in the J-10A and J-10B fighters.

It is expected that the J-11B's flight control system will also be manufactured in China. This was the leading reason why Russia could not determine whether China would continue to produce Su-27SK fighters in the next phase. In reality, the joint contract between Russia and China for the Su-27SK/J-11 development has now been virtually abandoned by the Chinese side without any consultation with Russia.

Monday, February 16, 2009

US-Chinese military dialogue set to resume this month

WASHINGTON (AFP) — China and the United States will resume their military dialogue in late February after Beijing suspended it last year to protest US arms sales to Taiwan, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

"On 27-28 February 2009, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Sedney will hold annual Defense Policy Coordination Talks with the People's Liberation Army in Beijing," spokesman Bryan Whitman told AFP.

The talks were to come just a few days after a visit to China by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set for February 20-22 as part of her first foreign tour since her appointment as top US diplomat.

The Chinese Army "invited the US to participate in these talks. We take this as a positive signal that the Chinese are prepared to begin working to resume regular military-to-military exchanges," said Whitman.

And this year's talks "will address the US-China military-to-military relationship, challenges to regional and global security, and potential areas for expanding cooperation between the two militaries" including "potential for extended cooperation on piracy," he added.

"These talks will be the first policy dialogue with the PLA under the new administration and represent an opportunity to further the dialogue with (China) on areas of shared interest and mutual benefit," he said.

China's military still is primarily focused on recapturing Taiwan but the country's naval and missile buildup portends a global role for the Asian giant, the head of US intelligence said Thursday.

"China's desire to secure access to the markets, commodities, and energy supplies needed to sustain domestic economic growth significantly influences its foreign engagement," retired admiral Dennis Blair told Congress.

The priority of Chinese diplomacy is to remain on friendly terms with other major powers, especially the United States given the primacy of US demand to China's own economic growth, he said.

"But Beijing is also seeking to build its global image and influence in order to advance its broader interests and to resist what it perceives as external challenges to those interests or to China's security and territorial integrity."

Clinton launched her Asia tour in Japan Monday calling US-Pacific ties "indispensable" for curbing problems like climate change, the global financial crisis and nuclear weapons.

Monday, February 9, 2009

China sells heavy artillery to host of African nations


HONG KONG,(UPI) -- The Angolan army is in contact with Chinese defense manufacturer Norinco, seeking to buy heavy artillery, armored vehicles and ammunition.

China already has been supplying an extensive range of light weapons and ammunition to Zimbabwe and Angola.

African military sources told United Press International that Norinco recently exported a number of 155mm howitzers to North African countries, including Algeria, Sudan and Egypt.

One source told UPI that Algeria purchased enough 155mm auto-propulsion howitzers to equip a battalion. Algeria traditionally has not been a purchaser of Chinese ground-force equipment, but seems to have taken its lead from Sudan, which first bought the howitzers.

One company of Chinese auto-propulsion 155mm howitzers consists of six artillery vehicles, one 704-1 positioning radar and one 720-D meteorological radar. One battalion is composed of 18 155mm howitzers, one command vehicle and one surveillance vehicle.

This type of auto-propulsion 155mm howitzer originated from the 45-caliber PLL01 towed howitzer, which uses extended range full bore, base bleed or rocket-assisted -- ERFB-BB/RA -- ammunition with a maximum range of 50 kilometers (30 miles).

Other ammunition used for the howitzer includes the 30-kilometer (18 mile) range ERFB/HE -- high explosive -- and the 39-kilometer (24 mile) range ERFB-BB/HE. The weight of the artillery weapon is 13 tons.

Analysts from the African military industry believe China has fitted Russian Krasnopol semi-active laser-guided gun launch projectiles on its 155mm howitzers. The United Arab Emirates uses the Chinese-version Krasnopols, which are almost one-third cheaper than the Russian originals.

A military source also told the author that Norinco has delivered WMZ-551 6X6 wheeled armored vehicles to both Zambia and Kenya in the past three years.

Kenya is not a traditional market for Chinese ground-force equipment, but as China has been competing fiercely with Russia and South Africa in selling arms in Africa, it appears to be opening up new markets.

The Royal Guards of Oman have imported 50 of these vehicles, and the Sudanese army also has them.

The WMZ-551 uses a new turret and is equipped with the 2A72 30mm gun produced under license from Russia. The armored vehicle can be fitted with a 12.7mm machine gun, 105mm smooth-bore gun, 120mm mortar and four HJ-8 anti-tank missiles.

It has been reported recently that the Chinese army's light mechanized brigades have received batches of WMZ-551 wheeled armored vehicles fitted with 120mm mortar guns, 105mm smooth-bore guns and 2A72 30mm cannon guns. A source from the Chinese military industry told United Press International that the turrets of the WMZ-551 can be transferred to 8X8 wheeled vehicles once those have been developed.

Aside from the weapon systems fitted on board, the WMZ-551 has a combat weight of 13.5 to 19 tons. It is powered by one 235-kilowatt diesel engine, has a maximum speed of 85 kilometers per hour, a maximum duration of 600 kilometers (360 miles), a length of 6.69 meters, width of 2.86 meters, and its speed in water is 8 kilometers per hour.


(Andrei Chang is editor in chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chinese warships force Indian submarine to surface

Chinese navy sees off Indian sub

Chinese warships sent to fight piracy in waters off Somalia were stalked by an Indian attack submarine and the two sides became locked in a tense standoff for at least half an hour, mainland media reported yesterday.

After rounds of manoeuvring during which both sides tried to test for weaknesses in the other's sonar system, the two Chinese warships managed to force the Indian submarine to surface. The Indian vessel left without further confrontation.

The incident was reported by Qingdao Chenbao yesterday and was widely carried by major mainland websites such as and QQ. Both Beijing and New Delhi were silent about the matter.

This is the first reported military standoff between China and India since a bitter border war in 1962.

The incident took place on January 15 in waters near the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, which separates Yemen and Djibouti, at the western end of the Gulf of Aden. The Chinese destroyers had picked up an unidentified submarine on their sonar, the report said.

The Chinese navy soon identified it as a 70-metre-long vessel armed with 20 torpedoes. Although the report did not directly specify the model, it provided a file photo of a Kilo-class submarine belonging to the Indian navy, which fit the description.

The submarine tried to evade the Chinese warships by diving deeper. But the warships continued the chase.

The report said the Chinese ships sent an anti-submarine helicopter to help track the submarine, which had tried to jam the Chinese warships' sonar system.

But the two destroyers eventually cornered the submarine and forced it to surface. The report said the submarine had been trailing the Chinese ships since they had entered the Indian Ocean on the way to Somalia.

It said that at one point the Chinese commander even ordered the helicopter to have its anti-submarine torpedoes ready.

The Indian submarine is believed to have been collecting electronic signals and sonar data from the Chinese warships. Such information would be crucial in naval conflicts.

The two destroyers China sent to Somalia are among its most advanced warships. One of the destroyers, Haikou, was commissioned in 2005.

It is rare for mainland media to report such a close encounter between the Chinese navy and foreign warships. Although deemed a provocative and unfriendly gesture, it was not unusual for one country to send submarines to collect other navies' information.

In 2006, a Chinese submarine was detected stalking the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk near the Japanese island of Okinawa. The Chinese submarine eventually surfaced close to the US battle group.