Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey displays Chinese built Ballistic Missiles

Turkey has displayed the first of 200 Chinese B611 ballistic missiles, that it is building under license. The B611 is a two ton missiles with a half ton warhead and a range of 280 kilometers. The missile is carried, and launched, in an 8x8 cross country truck. Some trucks are designed to carry two missiles. The B611 uses a solid fuel motor, and its basic guidance system will land the warhead within 150 meters of the aiming point. Using GPS for guidance will improve that to less than 30 meters.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

China Promises New, Advanced Fighter

China has the resources and technology--some of it obtained quasi-legally and illegally--to build a fifth-generation fighter, say U.S. Air Force and intelligence officials. But Beijing's aerospace industry may be missing key skills needed for it to match the performance of advanced, Western-built combat aircraft.

What neither Beijing nor the Western defense community yet knows is whether Chinese technicians can generate the systems engineering and integration capabilities required to actually build in large production numbers and arm advanced aircraft with features similar to those of the aging B-2 and F-22 or the newer but less stealthy F-35 (AW&ST Nov.16, p. 26).

"You need a combination of the right shape, structural design, surface coatings, aerodynamic performance and flight control system," says a U.S. Air Force official. "It's not magic, but there's still a lot of art in it."

It remains to be determined if the People's Liberation Army Air Force (Plaaf) will pursue a fighter design optimized for low observability or how much it will be willing to trade in terms of performance, supportability and delivery schedule.

The requirement--dubbed J-XX by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence in 1997--may well seek a more "balanced" approach to stealth, likely focusing on front-quadrant radar-cross-section reduction and the use of reapplicable coatings, rather than pursuing an all-aspect design. A twin-engine delta-canard concept has previously been suggested to be the general design approach.

While China is unlikely to field a platform with F-22-like capabilities within 10 years--as claimed by the Plaaf's deputy chief, Gen. He Weirong--a new fighter is in development and may soon make its first flight, say Chinese aerospace industry and U.S. intelligence officials.

The U.S. intelligence official, a veteran analyst of China's airpower, summarizes his view of the nation's access to advanced technologies. "Between legal, quasi-legal [diverted] and espionage-based tech transfer, I'm sure China has obtained most of the data available on how we build our stealthy aircraft structures and the materials involved," he says. "They also have taken full advantage of our open patent system, our open engineering undergrad and grad schools, our publish-or-perish academic promotion process and the ease with which an integrated, centralized [government] can thwart artificial, social-democratic distinctions between military, police, civil and commercial data."

Aging F-22 and B-2 designs are another factor. They have given Chinese researchers more than 20 years to chase down those technologies. The B-2 has already gone through its first service-life-extension program.

"[With] what they've gotten from us, Japan, [South Korea], Russia and the European Union, they have access to all they need data-wise," the intelligence official says. "Their only limitations are investment cash and the ability to work out production process engineering and integration, which we still do better than anyone. [Those skills] really reflect corporate culture and learning curve more than anything readily documented, although ISO 9000/9001/9002 and similar software documentation standardization are making that easier to steal, too."

China's J-10 strike fighter, which has an F-16-like capability, is considered the country's best indigenous effort so far in terms of engines, avionics and aerodynamic performance. It began large-scale service in 2006. China's military aircraft are profiting from knowledge about commercial composite-structure production garnered from building components for Boeing airliners and space materials.

The original J-10 work drew heavily on the Israeli Lavi program--Tel Aviv has generally proved a valuable source of technology for Beijing--and has benefited from Russian support.

Beijing also has used the J-11B development of the Russian Su-27 Flanker as the platform to introduce indigenous avionics, fire-control radar, weapons and powerplant. Further iterations of the systems produced for the J-11B may be earmarked for the J-XX.

The J-11B is designed to carry the PL-12 medium-range active radar-guided missile, rather than the export model of the Russian R-77 (AA-12 Adder). The PL-12 development reflects the overall improvement in China's national guided-weapons technology base, even if the program had significant Russian input.

"Right now, the only arms race China is really facing is with India, and [Beijing is] winning," the intelligence official says.

While that contest has no direct impact on the U.S., at least some Pentagon planners believe it will accelerate China's large-force, war-making capability, while the U.S. is focusing its spending and technology development on limited-war and insurgency-type conflicts.

"In my view, we're wasting billions on slow- and low-flying MC-12s [surveillance aircraft], MQ-1/-9 [remotely piloted aircraft], C-27J [light transports] and less-than-world-class, lowest-common-denominator, design-to-price [F-35] JSF," the intelligence official says.

A veteran combat pilot with insight into the F-22 program says building an advanced fighter, even if it did not match the F-22's or F-35's performance, could be a serious threat to the U.S. stealth fleet if the new aircraft are built in large enough numbers to overcome an allied force through sheer attrition.

"Those fourth-generation fighters, when pitted against 187 F22s in large numbers, will eventually wear [the stealth fighters] down," says an aerospace industry official. "They only carry eight air-to-air missiles. They don't have to match Raptor capabilities if they build an advanced fighter in F-35 numbers."

It would not be considered an impossible technological leap for China to build an F-35-like fighter with some stealth capabilities in 10 years. "They could throw a lot of resources at it," a senior U.S. Air Force official says. "But we've yet to see a real organic design from China. So far, they've leveraged Russian or Israeli technology. They don't have a lot of radar engineering capability, nor experience in integrating a complete structure. That's the big question.

"You can paste on some [signature-lowering] capabilities, but changing a very large target to a large target doesn't buy you too much operational advantage," the Air Force official says. "You need very small stealth-signature numbers."

The F-22 had an all-aspect requirement of -40 dBsm., while the F-35 came in at -30 dBsm. with some gaps in coverage.

The idea that the J-10 will serve as a technological springboard is considered unlikely.

"I believe the Chinese have a difficult road if their design is tied to the J-10," he says. "As you know, significantly reduced signature requires more then coatings. The J-10 has many features which may produce the desired aerodynamic effects but would be a negative for signature reduction. I am sure they can somewhat reduce the signature with a few design tweaks and coatings, but the operational relevance would be questionable.

"They can certainly refine their composite-structure competency, and basic [stealth] coatings are widely known and available," the Air Force official says. "The milestone will be when we see more refined shaping.",%20Advanced%20Fighter

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

China to build a F-22 class fighter jet

The Chinese Air Force has announced that it has a F-22 type aircraft ready to make its first flight within a year. The Chinese believe this aircraft will enter service within ten years. U.S. intelligence believes the Chinese are nowhere near this kind of capability. But given the quantity and quality of data Chinese hackers have been stealing in the past five years, it's possible that they have much of the American technology that makes the F-22 and F-35 possible. Some believe that the Chinese also have a F-35 type design in the works as well.

American intel analysts believe that Chinese aviation technology (both design and manufacturing) is not yet capable of producing F-22/F-35 class aircraft. Given the experience with the first two Chinese designed and manufactured jet fighters (J-10 and JF-17), there is much doubt that China is capable of making the leap to F-22 class fighters. The big bottleneck is jet engine technology.

For two decades now, China has been developing the manufacturing technology for aircraft engines, the key component of any high performance aircraft. So far, China has been unable to create the manufacturing technology and personnel skills that are needed to make the engines for their most advanced jet fighters. For example, China is a major customer for Russian RD93 engines (originally designed for the MiG-29), and has bought over a thousand of them. The RD93 engines currently cost about $2.5 million each.

China has been developing a similar (apparently identical) engine to the RD93, the WS-13. Actually, this effort is being aided by Russia, which is selling China technology needed for the manufacture of key engine components. Russia isn't happy about this, because they don't want competition in the low cost jet engine market. Then again, China has a history of stealing technology it cannot buy, so the Russians are making the best of a bad situation. China says the WS-13 is nearly ready for service. Maybe, maybe not. Recently, China ordered another hundred RD93s. Building high performance military jet engines is difficult, and China has had problems mastering this kind of stuff. Not that they will not eventually acquire the skills, but until they do, they need the Russian made RD93s. Officially, more RD93 are being bought because China cannot produce enough of their WS-13s.

Chinese engineers also thought they had managed to master the manufacturing techniques needed to make a Chinese copy of the Russian AL31F engine. This Chinese copy, the WS10A, was meant for the Chinese J-10 fighter, which entered service two years ago. But the Chinese Air Force was not satisfied with the reliability or performance of the WS10A, and have ordered another hundred AL31Fs from Russia, in order to continue building J-10s. Meanwhile, Russian efforts to build an improved AL31 for their own F-22 competitor, have run into serious problems. Will the Chinese suddenly do better than their tutors?

The J-10 is the first modern jet fighter designed and built in China. The aircraft is an attempt to create a modern fighter-bomber that could compete with foreign designs. The experiment was not completely successful. Work on the J-10 began over twenty years ago, in an attempt to develop an aircraft that could compete with the Russian MiG-29s and Su-27s, and the American F-16. But the first prototype did not fly until 1998. There were problems, and it wasn't until 2000 that the basic design flaws were fixed. By 2002, nine prototypes had been built, and flight testing was going forward to find, and fix, hundreds of smaller problems. It was a great learning experience for Chinese engineers, but it was becoming apparent that the J-10 was not going to be competitive with the Su-27s/30s China was buying from Russia. The J-10 looks something like the American F-16, and weighs about the same (19 tons). Like the F-16, and unlike the Su-27, the J-10 has only one engine.

The 13 ton JF-17, which uses the RD93, is meant to be a low cost alternative to the American F-16. It was developed in cooperation with Pakistan. The JF-17 is considered the equal to earlier versions of the F-16, but only 80 percent as effective as more recent F-16 models. The JF-17 design is based on a cancelled Russian project, the MiG-33. Most of the JF-17 electronics (in the Pakistani version) are Western, with Italian firms being major suppliers. The JF-17 can carry 3.6 tons of weapons and use radar guided and heat seeking missiles. It has max speed of nearly 2,000 kilometers an hour, an operating range of 1,300 kilometers and a max altitude of 55,000 feet. China has not yet decided on whether it will use the FC-1/JF-17 itself. This is apparently because China believes its own J-10 (another local design) and J-11 (a license built Russian Su-27) are adequate for their needs. The J-10, like the JF-17, did not work out as well as was hoped.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pakistan and China in $1.4 billion fighter jet deal

This is a huge deal. But $1.4 billion is not cheap, can Pakistan come up with enough funding for this purchase ?

LAHORE: China has agreed to sell Pakistan at least 36 advanced fighter jets in a landmark deal worth as much as $1.4bn, Pakistani and western officials said on Tuesday.

China will supply two squadrons of J-10 fighter planes in a preliminary agreement, which could lead to further sales in future, a Pakistani official said.

The official added that Pakistan might buy “larger numbers” of the planes in the future, but denied reports that Pakistan had agreed to buy 150 jets.

Experts describe the agreement as a “landmark” in Pak-China relations.

“The agreement should not simply be seen in the narrow context of Pakistan’s relations with China,” said Abdul Qayyum, a retired Pakistani general. “There is a wider dimension. By sharing its advanced technology with Pakistan, China is ... also saying to the world that its defence capability is growing rapidly.”

China has supplied Pakistan with fighter jets for more than three decades. Experts said the sales would be evidence of China looking to expand its military power. “Countries like Iran and possibly some of the Middle Eastern countries would be keen to deal with China,” said one western official in Islamabad.\11\11\story_11-11-2009_pg1_5

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

China's August 1st Aerobatics Team 八一飞行队

China's August 1st Aerobatics Team 八一飞行队 is the aerobatic demonstration team of the People's Liberation Army Air Force. The August 1st Aerobatics Team is considered as one the best aerobatic teams in the world. It is named after the date of the founding of the PLAAF. The unit was founded in 1962 and has performed 320 events in 100 countries. It is part of the PLAAF Beijing Military Region.

In the past, Ba Yi aerobatic team has flown J-5, J-6 and JJ-5 air planes.

In the 90's, Chengdu J-7EB was flown by the Ba Yi aerobatic team, but was replaced by the newer J-7GB (2001). There are about 8 aircraft in the fleet, but only 6 are set for any airshow.

In May 2009, the team upgraded their jets to the much more advanced Chengdu J-10s multirole fighter.

The aerobatics team is based out of Yangcun Air Force Base (Meichong) near Tianjin, home to the 24th Fighter Division.