Friday, June 18, 2010
The Burmese air force continues to expand with the recent procurement of 50 K-8 jet trainer aircraft from China, according to sources within the air force in Meikhtila.
“Parts of the K-8 aircraft were transported by cargo ship from China and are being assembled at the Aircraft Production and Maintenance Base in Meikhtila,” said one of the sources.
The purchase of the 50 aircraft comes after Burma’s air force chief Lt-Gen Myat Hein traveled to China in November to negotiate an upgrade to the fleet of Chinese-made military aircraft already owned by Burma.
“There are two reasons to purchase K-8 trainers,” said the source. “Either for training exercises or for counter-insurgency.”
The K-8 jet trainer, sometimes called the K-8 Karakorum or the Hongdu JL-8, is a joint venture between China and Pakistan, and is fitted with air-to-air missiles and rockets.
In 1998-9, the Burmese air force bought 12 K-8 jet trainers from China, which are now stationed at Taungoo Air Base in Pegu Division.
In addition to purchasing Chinese-made fighters and trainer aircraft, Naypyidaw signed a contract in late 2009 to buy 20 MiG-29 jet fighters from Russia at a cost of nearly US $570 million.
“The parts of the MiG-29 jet fighters will arrive in July and September by cargo ship and by plane,” said an officer close to Col. Tun Aung, a key figure in the Burmese air force. He said that the 20 Russian aircraft will be assembled in Meikhtila.
Meanwhile, Burma's main air base for maintenance, the Aircraft Production and Maintenance Air Base (APMAB) in Panchangone in Mingaladon Township has been relocated to Nyaunggone, close to the regime's Flying Training Base in Shante in Meikhtila Township, according to a source from the air base.
“The APMAB got the order from Naypyidaw in January to relocate to the new location,” he said, but said he did not know why the relocation took place.
Military sources from Rangoon said that Burmese ruling military council upgraded the air force’s facilities and expanded airfields, as well as two air force bases in Bassein and Homemalin in 2006, to fulfill operational capabilities.
Burma has brought 280 aircraft from China, Russia, Yugoslavia and Poland, including trainers and fighters, since the military took power in 1988.
The Burmese air force was founded in 1947 before Burmese independence. Its main objective has since been counter campaigns against the Communist Party of Burma and several ethnic armies.
Burma has 10 air force headquarters: Bassein Air Base in Irrawaddy Division; Mingaladon Air Base in Rangoon Division; Myitkyina Air Base in Kachin State; Myike Air Base in Tenasserim Division; Namsang Air Base in Shan State; Taungoo Air Base in Pegu Division; Meikhtila (Shante) Flying Training Base; Meikthila Grounding Training Base in Mandalay Division; Magwe Air Base in Magwe Division; and Homemalin Air Base in Sagaing Division.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
For over five years, China has been developing a carrier version of the Russian Su-27, calling it the J-15. There is already a Russian version of this, called the Su-33. Russia refused to sell Su-33s to China, when it was noted that China was making illegal copies of the Su-27 (as the J-11), and did not want to place a big order for Su-33s, but only wanted two, for "evaluation." China eventually got a Su-33 from Ukraine, which inherited some when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. The first prototypes of the J-15 have been under construction for two years, and the aircraft is believed to have taken its first flight in the last few months. The Russians are not happy with this development. Russian aviation experts have openly derided the J-15, casting doubt on the ability of Chinese engineers to replicate key features of the Su-33. That remains to be seen, as the Chinese have screwed up copying Russian military tech in the past. But the Chinese have a lot of experience stealing foreign tech, so the J-15 may well turn out to be at least as good as the Su-33. Meanwhile. Russia itself has stopped using the Su-33.
Late last year, the Russian Navy ordered 24 MiG-29Ks (for about $42 million each) to replace the Su-33s currently operating from the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov. It was two years ago that the carrier version of the Russian MiG-29, the MiG-29K, made its first flight, about fifteen years later than originally planned. India is buying 30-40 of these for use on at least two aircraft carriers. The Indians are already receiving the first sixteen. The reason for dropping the Su-33 is the order from India. It's cheaper to build 64 (or more, for planned Russian carriers) MiG-29Ks, than just 16 more Su-33s to replace the ones already on the Kuznetsov (and wearing out). The MiG-29Ks are lighter and cheaper than the Su-33s.
In the early 1990s, work began on creating a variant of the MiG-29 for carrier use. These were to be used on the Kuznetsov class carriers, originally conceived of as 90,000 ton, nuclear powered ships, similar to American carriers (complete with steam catapults). Instead, because of the cost, and the complexity of modern (American style) carriers, the Russians were forced to scale back their goals, and ended up with the 65,000 ton (full load) ships that lacked steam catapults, and used a ski jump type flight deck instead. Nuclear power was dropped, but the Kuznetsov class was still a formidable design. The thousand foot (322 meter) long carrier ended up carryings a dozen Su-33s, 14 Ka-27PL anti-submarine helicopters, two electronic warfare helicopters and two search and rescue helicopters. The ship was designed to carry up to 36 Su-33s and sixteen helicopters.
The 33 ton Su-33 is larger than the 21 ton MiG-29K, and both types of aircraft were to operate from the three 65,000 ton Kuznetsovs. But when the Cold War ended, only the Kuznetsov was near completion. The second ship in the class, the Varyag, was sold to China. The smaller Gorshkov is being rebuilt and sold to India (who believed the smaller MiG-29K was more suitable for this carrier.).
The MiG-29K modifications included arrestor gear and stronger landing gear for carrier landings, folding wings and rust proofing to reduce corrosion from all that salt water. Anti-radar paint is also used, to reduce the radar signature. Fuel capacity was increased 50 percent and more modern electronics installed. A more powerful engine is used, which enabled the aircraft to carry over five tons of weapons (air-to-air and anti-ship missiles, smart bombs).
Thursday, June 3, 2010
China successfully launched the 4th Beidou navigational satellite into the pre-designated orbit with the “Long March 3C” carrier rocket at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, symbolizing that China has made another important step forward in building the Beidou satellite navigational system.
According to introduction, the building of China’s Beidou satellite navigational system is being steadily pushed forward in accordance with the “three-step” development strategy.
The first step is basically realized. China launched 3 Beidou experimental navigation satellites from 2000 to 2003, established a sound Beidou experimental navigation system and thus became the third country possessing an independent satellite navigation system following the U.S. and Russia.
In the second step, the Beidou satellite navigational system will possess the capacity to provide position, navigation, time and short message communication service in the Asia-Pacific region by 2012. So far, China has successfully launched 3 Beidou navigational satellites and got into the stage of building a network for frequent satellite launches.
In the third step, the Beidou satellite navigational system consisting of 5 geostationary satellites and 30 non-geostationary satellites which covers the whole globe will be established around 2020.