Tuesday, December 27, 2011

China's Beidou Satellite Navigation System Operational

China's indigenous satellite navigation system called Beidou is up and running for people in and around China. It started providing initial operational services, including positioning, navigation and timing Tuesday.

The 10th satellite of the network was launched back on December 2nd, putting the finishing touches on the basic structure of the system.

Tests were carried out for the past six months.

[Yang Qiangwen, China Satellite Navigation System Management Office]:
"Firstly we carried out comprehensive tests on all the satellites, including all key machines and equipment, to ensure they can provide continuous service. Secondly, we optimized the positions of all the satellites to ensure the best conditions for operation."

Six more satellites will be launched in 2012 to further expand the service area of the Beidou system to most parts of the Asia-Pacific region.

[Ran Chengqi, Management Office, China Satellite Navigation System]:
"Preliminary tests show that the basic positioning and navigation system of Beidou has reached the set standards and we have officially moved from the test system to the working system. This step marks the transition from construction to application."

The global satellite positioning and navigation system will be completed in 2020, with 30 satellites orbiting the earth.

Started in 2000, the Beidou satellite navigation system is designed to make China independent of the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

China is retiring J-7 jet from front line service

in 2009, China finally stopped the production of J-7G, the last variant of Mig-21 jet.

China has officially withdrawn its MiG-21 clone (the J-7) from first line service. This comes as no surprise. In the last four years China has more than doubled the number of modern combat aircraft (J-10, J-11, Su-27, Su-30, and J-8F) from 500 to over 1,200. Four years ago China relied mainly on some 2,000 locally built copies of Russian MiG-19s (J-6) and MiG-21 (J-7). There are still several hundred bombers mostly Russian knockoffs. Normally, the actual number of Chinese aircraft is a state secret. However, thanks to the ability of Chinese to move freely throughout the country and access to the Internet it's possible to locate and count all the air force units in the country. That shows a current force that is rapidly changing from one that is mostly MiG-21s and MiG-19s, to one composed of much more capable aircraft. China is buying and building a lot of the Russian Su-27s and Su-30s (the latter an upgrade of the former.) But new, home grown designs, like the J-20 are also showing up.

Another reason for withdrawing the J-7 to secondary regions (where modern jets are unlikely to be encountered) is the inability to use J-7s for a lot of training. That's important because China is revising its combat pilot training program. The existing system takes ten years of academic and flight training. The new program cuts that to 5-7 years, while increasing flight hours by over 40 percent. This is more in line with Western methods, while the existing system owes more to the one the Russians developed during the Cold War. The new system puts more emphasis on trainee pilots demonstrating combat flying skills before they can graduate. Cold War era Russian aircraft designs, like the MiG-21, were not designed for the heavy use required for Western style pilot training.

The new training program is actually an evolution of the need for new training methods to prepare pilots to handle the more modern aircraft. Training for pilots of these new fighters has been more intense than for any previous aircraft. In addition, China is also holding training exercises directed at fighting other modern fighters, like those flown by Taiwan, Japan, and the United States. China is not keeping much of this secret and that is apparently sending a message to potential foes.

China has long been the largest user of the MiG-21 in the form of their J-7 clone. China still exports J-7s but has been rapidly retiring the ones remaining in Chinese service. The J-7 was, in many ways, the most advanced version of the MiG-21, as the Chinese kept improving their J-7 design. Over 10,000 Mig-21s and J-7s have been produced in the last sixty years, making this the most widely manufactured jet fighter of the last century (during World War II there were several propeller driven fighters that were produced in greater numbers.) The MiG-21 looked fearsome but it was a bust in combat, getting shot down more often than not. Russia still had 186 Mig-21s in service when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991s. These MiG-21s were officially retired a few years later. India, the last major user of the MiG-21, is in the process of retiring them as well.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

China navy to exercise in Western Pacific

China has said it will conduct "routine" naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean, in the week after a major diplomatic campaign by US President Barack Obama to assert the United States as a Pacific power.

The defence ministry said the exercises, to be held later this month, did not target any particular country, but the announcement comes against a background of growing tensions over maritime disputes in the Asia-Pacific region.

Obama, who has dubbed himself America's first Pacific president, said last week the United States would deploy up to 2,500 Marines to Australia and tighten air force cooperation, a move seen as a response to China's growing regional might.

China's freedom of navigation "shall not be subject to any form of hindrance", the defence ministry said in a brief statement late Wednesday announcing the naval exercises in the western Pacific.

"This is a routine drill arranged under an annual plan, does not target any particular country or target, and complies with relevant international laws and international practice," it added.

Obama flew home Saturday after a seven-day tour of Pacific nations during which he took in a trio of summits and announced greater military involvement in the region.

"Here is what this region must know. As we end today's wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and missions in the Asia-Pacific a top priority," the US president announced during a visit to Australia.

Washington's new diplomatic campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power has alarmed China, which sees initiatives like stationing Marines in Australia as intruding into its sphere of influence.

China's Premier Wen Jiabao has warned against interference by "external forces" in regional territorial disputes including in the South China Sea, a strategic and resource-rich area where several nations have overlapping claims.

China claims all of the maritime area, as does Taiwan, while four Southeast Asian countries declare ownership of parts of it, with Vietnam and the Philippines accusing Chinese forces of increasing aggression there.

The competing claims have led to periodic outbreaks of tension between China and its neighbours in recent years, including with the Philippines and Vietnam in recent months, and with Japan in late 2010.

Asia-Pacific leaders held talks on the disputed territories at a summit Saturday, in a major diplomatic coup for the United States, which had pushed for the topic to be raised, despite objections from Beijing.

China's official comments on Obama's trip were muted, but state news agency Xinhua said Asian suspicions would be raised by the plan to base troops in Australia and by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's declaration that the 21st century will be "America's Pacific century".

"If the United States sticks to its Cold War mentality and continues to engage with Asian nations in a self-assertive way, it is doomed to incur repulsion in the region," the agency said.

"The hard fact is that the Pacific Ocean belongs to all countries sharing its shores, not just the United States."

China's People's Liberation Army, the largest armed force in the world, is primarily a land force, but the navy is playing an increasingly important role as Beijing grows more assertive about its territorial claims.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon warned that Beijing was increasingly focused on its naval power and had invested in high-tech weaponry that would extend its reach in the Pacific and beyond.

Recent trials of China's first aircraft carrier underlined the scale of Beijing's naval ambitions, sparking jitters in the United States and Japan.

China, which publicly announced around 50 separate naval exercises in the seas off its coast over the past two years -- usually after the event -- says its military is only focused on defending the country's territory.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

China breaks record with Long March 3A launch of another BeiDou-2 satellite

A record breaking 16th successful launch of the year for China took place at 21:07 UTC on Thursday, when a Long March 3A (Chang Zheng-3A) launch vehicle orbited a new navigation satellite – another for the BeiDou-2 Compass satellite navigation range – from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, in Sichuan Province.

China’s Record:

This launch was the 16th successful orbital launch this year for China, breaking the previous launch record of 15 successful missions in 2010. Taking into account the launch failure on August 18th, this was the 17th space launch for China this year.

The satellite that was orbited is the fifth BeiDou-2 IGSO (Inclined GSO) satellite of the system. The satellites were developed in the basis of the DFH-3B satellite platform and have a lifespan of eight years.

This constellation of Compass satellites will consist of 35 vehicles, including 30 MEO (21,500 km orbits) and IGSO (inclined at 55 degrees) satellites and five GSO satellites.

The Compass Navigation Satellite System (CNSS) is China’s second-generation satellite navigation system approved by the Chinese government in 2004, and is capable of providing continuous, real-time passive 3D geo-spatial positioning and speed measurement.

The system was initially used to provide high-accuracy positioning services for users in China and its neighboring regions, covering an area of about 120 degrees longitude in the Northern Hemisphere. The long-term goal is to develop a global navigation satellite network similar to the GPS and GLONASS by 2020.

The system will have two kinds of services: a civilian service that will give an accuracy of 10 meters in the user position, 0.2 m/s on the user velocity and 50 nanoseconds in time accuracy; and the military and authorized user’s service, providing higher accuracies. The first phase of the project will see the coverage of the Chinese territory but in the future the Compass constellation will cover the entire globe.

The satellites transmit signals on the: 1195.14-1219.14MHz, 1256.52-1280.52MHz, 1559.05-1563.15MHz and 1587.69-1591.79MHz, carrier frequencies.

The previous BeiDou-2 ‘Compass’ launch took place on July 26 when a Chang Zheng-3A orbited the ‘Compass-I4′ (37763 2011-038A) satellite.

This was the 22nd flight of the CZ-3A Chang Zheng-3A launch vehicle. The CZ-3A is a three-stage liquid launch vehicle, which has inherited the mature technology of the CZ-3 Chang Zheng-3. An upgraded liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen cryogenic third stage has been developed to enable CZ-3A performing greater geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) capability.

The CZ-3A is equipped with a more flexible and sophisticated control system which supports substantial attitude adjustments to orient the payloads before spacecraft separation and provides adjustable satellite spin-up rotation rate. It has paved the way for the development of CZ-3B Chang Zheng-3B and CZ-3C Chang Zheng-3C, and become the basic type of GTO launch vehicles.

The CZ-3A is mainly used for GTO missions; it also can be used for LEO, SSO and polar orbit missions, as well as dual-launch and multiple-launch missions. The launch capacity of the CZ-3A to GTO is 2,650 kg, the lift-off mass is 241,000 kg, the overall length is 52.5 meters, the diameter of first stage and second stage is 3.35 meters, the diameter of third stage is 3.0 meters, and the maximum fairing diameter is 3.35 meters.

The first stage and second stage of CZ-3A employ storable propellants, i.e. unsymmetrical dimethy1 hydrazine (UDMH) and nitrogen tetroxide (N­2O4), and the third stage uses cryogenic propellants, i.e. liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX).

On the first stage the CZ-3A uses a DaFY6-2 engine with 2961.6 kN of thrust, while the second stage is equipped with a DaFY20-1 main engine (742 kN) and four DaFY21-1 vernier engines (11.8 kN each). The third stage is equipped with two YF-75 engines (78.5 kN each).

The fairing diameter of the CZ-3A is 3.35 meters and has a length of 8.89 meters.

CZ-3A consists of rocket structure, propulsion system, control system, telemetry system, tracking and safely system, coast phase propellant management and attitude control system, cryogenic propellant utilization system, separation system and auxiliary system, etc.

The launch success rate of CZ-3A is 100 percent since its maiden flight on February 8, 1994 when it successfully launched two experimental satellites (the Shi Jian-4 and the Kua Fu-1, a DFH-3 model). And it was awarded the “Gold Launch Vehicle” title by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation in June 2007.

This was the 153rd successful Chinese orbital launch, the 153rd launch of a Chang Zheng launch vehicle, the 8th launch from Xichang in 2011 and the 67th orbital launch from Xichang.

The Xichang Satellite Launch Centre is situated in the Sichuan Province, south-western China and is the country’s launch site for geosynchronous orbital launches.

Equipped with two launch pads (LC2 and LC3), the centre has a dedicated railway and highway lead directly to the launch site. The Command and Control Centre is located seven kilometers south-west of the launch pad, providing flight and safety control during launch rehearsal and launch.

Down range Tracking and Control stations of the launch center are located in Xichang City and Yibin City of Sichuan Province, and Guiyang City of Guizhou Province. Each of them houses tracking and measurement equipment for the powered phase of a launch vehicle flight.

Other facilities on the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre are the Launch Control Centre, propellant fueling systems, communications systems for launch command, telephone and data communications for users, and support equipment for meteorological monitoring and forecasting.

During 1993-1994 Xichang underwent extensive modernization and expansion, in part due to the requirements of the CZ-3 launcher family and in part to meet commercial customer needs.

The first launch from Xichang took place at 12:25UTC on January 29, 1984, when the CZ-3 Chang Zheng-3 (CZ3-1) was launched the Shiyan Weixing (14670 1984-008A) communications satellite into orbit.

Before the end of the year China plans two more launches. The launch of the NigComSat-1R communications satellite for Nigeria is schedule to take place on December 19. Launched by a CZ-3B/E Chang Zheng-3B/E rocket from Xichang, this satellite will replace the NigComSat-1 satellite that lost power from the southern solar array and latter failed in November 2008 due to a technical error of the satellite’s northern solar array.

The other launch schedule for December will orbit the ZiYuan-1 (2C) Earth resource satellite using a Chang Zheng-4B launch vehicle from Taiyuan.

Monday, November 14, 2011

China-Pakistan JF-17 Fighter ready for Block-2 Upgrades

The JF-17 Thunder fighter, co-developed by China’s Avic and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), is to receive improvements that will start being produced with the Block-2 version from next year.

The enhancements will effect the data link and electronic warfare capabilities. An air-to-air re refueling capability will be added, as will be new guided weapons. A two-seat variant is being developed, too. The current program schedule calls for the Pakistan-based factory to deliver the JF-17 Block-2 to the PAF from mid-2012 to 2015. Then, a Block-3 version is planned from 2016. Block-1 aircraft are being delivered until the middle of next year.

PAF Air Chief Marshall Rao Qamar Suleiman said marketing efforts focus on those countries needing to replace old fighters such as the MiG-21, early Mirage, F-5 and Phantom types. The program’s target export countries can be found in Latin America, Africa and Asia. “We offer performance comparable to U.S. and European fighters when it comes to radar, dogfight missile, range and BVR [beyond visual range] capabilities, for one third of the cost,” Suleiman claimed.

So far, five countries are said to have taken a close look at the aircraft. China itself is currently evaluating the JF-17 and a decision is expected “shortly.” Avic and the PAF expect to sell “between 300 and 500 JF-17s” over the next 10 years.

The in-service fleet has logged a total of 10,000 flight hours with the PAF. In China, the JF-17 is also known as the FC-1 Xiaolong.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

China's space lab module Tiangong-1 ready for docking after postural adjustment

China's first space lab module Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1, has completed a 180-degree turn-around to prepare itself for the upcoming docking with spacecraft Shenzhou-8, ready to blast off early November in northwestern desert area, a space scientist said Sunday.

The target spacecraft adjusted itself to fly invertedly at 7:34 p.m. under the control of the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center, said Chen Hongmin, director of the command center for Chinese space program.

Chen said the spacecraft was lowered to the 343-km-high rendezvous and docking orbit on Sunday after a series of maneuver including orbit control and on-orbit testing since its launch into space on Sept. 29.

As of 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Tiangong-1 has orbited Earth for 30 days and 22 hours, according to Chen.

Monitoring results have shown that the spacecraft has been flying smoothly and stably and met with the requirement for the docking mission, Chen said.

The docking between Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 has put up high requirement on the monitoring and control system as the maneuver of the two spacecraft is synergetic, Chen said.

Meanwhile, the dramatically changing weather conditions posed another challenge for scientists to ascertain the launch time for Shenzhou-8 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert, according to Chen.

Scientists at the Beijing command center are racing to collect and analyze all data and information to work out corresponding measures and to calculate the precise launch time, Chen said.

Tiangong-1 lab module is expected to perform China's first-ever rendezvous and docking with Shenzhou-8 after the spacecraft's launch.

The rendezvous and docking technologies are considered crucial for China's manned space program.

Once China has mastered the technologies of rendezvous and docking, it will be equipped with the basic technologies and capacity required for the building of a space station, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program.

"It will make it possible for China to carry out space exploration of larger scale," Zhou told Xinhua Sunday in an exclusive interview at the Jiuquan launch center.

"The mastering of rendezvous and docking technologies will lay a key technical foundation for China's building of space station and deep-space exploration," Zhou said.

China has so far mastered basic technologies for manned spacecraft and extravehicular activities (EVA), according to Zhou.

During the Shenzhou-7 mission in September 2008, astronaut Zhai Zhigang performed China's first-ever space walk, wearing EVA space suits made in China.

The docking will not only send astronauts and cargo supply to the space station, but also increase efficiency and lower risks for farther space exploration such as lunar landing and Mars visiting, Zhou said.

After its first space docking test in November, China will continue sending spacecraft Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 before 2012 for unmanned or manned docking with Tiangong-1, according to Zhou.

Zhou said China welcomes other countries to participate in its space program and is willing to join in international aerospace cooperation.

"We shall open our space station to the world to create a platform of scientific research for Chinese scientists and their peers from all over the world," Zhou said.

Wu Ping, a spokeswoman for China's manned space program, said on Sunday that China would invite officials and experts from the European Space Agency and the German Aerospace Center to observe the launch of the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft.

During the launch of Shenzhou-7 in September 2008, Russian aerospace experts were also invited to the launch center to observe the mission.

"The new knowledge obtained through space science research should be common wealth for human beings and should benefit the whole world," Zhou said.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

PLA officers to receive anti-terrorism trainings in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankas Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya invited the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the People’s Republic of China to send in more of their trainee students for professional military courses offered by the Sri Lanka Army in order to receive wider exposure in defeat of terrorism.

He extended the invitation when he met six -member Chinese delegation headed by Major General Qian Lihua, Chief of Foreign Affairs Office, Ministry of National Defence was accompanied to the Commander of the Army by the Chinese Ambassador Yang Xiuping.

Major General Lihua during his exchange of views with the Commander of the Army assured his Army’s fullest cooperation to the Sri Lanka Army in several areas of its professional training, exercises and further promotion of military assistance to Sri Lanka on request.

The visiting Chinese Chief of Foreign Affairs Office during talks told the Commander, that the PLA, impressed with the progress hitherto made by Sri Lankan Army de-miners, expects to offer 100 more de-mining kits to the Army for further acceleration of their work as a gesture of goodwill and appreciation.

Touching on their possibilities for increased intakes of Sri Lankan trainee officers to military academies in China, the visiting military officer promised Sri Lanka of more and more such openings in the future once a request to this effect is channeled through the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

He reminded that Sri Lanka Army’s de-mining students were the only foreign contingent trained in China as at present because of the excellent relations that exist between both countries as well as the Armies. ‘We have assisted Sri Lanka in the past 25 years or more. In peacetime too, we wish to further extend our assistance in all spheres, Major General Lihua quipped.

World powers and Armies in the world have lot to learn from a tiny country like Sri Lanka and its professional Army on its road to defeat of terrorism, Lieutenant General Jayasuriya commented during the talks.

Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, speaking high of the commendable Chinese contribution to the Army right throughout as the major force behind the country’s Security Forces requested for closer PLA interaction in special military training programmes, such as the ‘Exercise Cormorant Strike’ every year by sending their representation, was positively responded by the visiting Chinese delegate during bilateral talks.

Major General Qian Lihua further pointed out that 23 out of all PLA’s 63 training establishments in China conduct military training courses exclusively for foreign students and Sri Lanka’s studentship could be further increased in the future in consultation with the Chinese defence authorities, considering the unprecedented high standards of professional conduct of the Sri Lankan Army which could serve as a beacon of hope for the countries, afflicted with menace of terrorism.

The visiting Army official noted that the PLA in the future will collaborate closely with the Sri Lanka Military Academy (SLMA) at Diyatalawa and explore possibilities for further assisting the improvement of infrastructure facilities in the institute with the advanced technology in China. Commander of the Army during the final leg of the meeting with the delegation thanked the visiting delegation for their keen interest in interacting closely with the Sri Lanka Army and its appreciation of the Sri Lankan Army’s contribution to world peace.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

China sends French-made satellite into space

XICHANG, Sichuan - China's Long March-III2 rocket carrier sent a French-made telecom satellite into orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center Friday afternoon, marking the first time for China to provide launch service for a European satellite operator.

It was also the 148th launch for the Long March rocket family.

According to information and data received by the Xi'an Satellite Measuring and Monitoring Center, the satellite and rocket carrier separated on schedule and the satellite is now in orbit.

The launch marked the first time for China to cooperate with a European satellite operator since the signing of a Sino-French satellite launch agreement in 2008.

The launch was carried out by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation and the China Institute of Rocket Carrier Technology, both under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, as well as the China Satellite Launch and Tracking Control General (CLTC).

The W3C telecom satellite was built by Thales Alenia Space, a French satellite manufacturer, and is owned by Eutelsat, a leading provider of satellite communication services.

The W3C has a designed lifespan of 15 years and will provide television, radio, broadband, video and Internet service.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

China launches Tiangong space lab

China's first space lab module Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1, blasted off at 9:16 p.m. Beijing Time (1316 GMT) Thursday in a northwest desert area as the nation envisions the coming of its space station era in about ten years.

The unmanned module, carried by the Long March-2FT1 rocket, will test space docking with a spacecraft later this year, paving the way for China to operate a permanent space station around 2020 and making it the world's third country to do so.

More than ten minutes after the blastoff, Commander-in-chief of China's manned space program Chang Wanquan announced the launch's success at the control center in Beijing.

The success of the launch, however, is just a beginning, and the real challenge is space docking, said Yang Hong, chief designer of Tiangong module series.


Unlike previous Chinese space vehicles, the Tiangong-1 has a docking facility which allows it to be connected to multiple space modules in order to assemble an experimental station in low Earth orbit.

The Tiangong-1 will orbit the Earth for about one month, awaiting the arrival of the Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft. Once the two vehicles successfully rendezvous, they will conduct the first space docking at a height of 340 kilometers above the earth's surface.

The Tiangong-1 flies at a speed of 7.8 kilometers per second in orbit, which leaves ground-based staff an error of less than 0.12 meter to control the two vehicles to dock in low gravity. China has never tried such test and could not simulate it on the ground.

After two docking tests with the Shenzhou-8, the Tiangong-1 will await Shenzhou-9, to be followed by Shenzhou-10, which will possibly carry a female astronaut, in the next two years, according to the plan for China's manned space program.

If the astronaut in the Shenzhou-10 mission succeeds with the manual space docking, China will become the third nation after the United States and Russia to master the technology.

President Hu Jintao watched the launch from the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center on Thursday, two days before China's National Day, witnessing the latest endeavor of China's manned space program since 1992.

Hu told the engineers, commanders and other workers at the control center to do every job in a "more aborative and meticulous" manner to ensure the success of the country's first space docking mission.

Other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, including Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang and Zhou Yongkang, were also present.

Premier Wen Jiabao went to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center to watch the launch process with He Guoqiang, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

Chinese people were inspired by the successful launch.

"The Tiangong-1 has gone into the dark sky! We Chinese are on the way to inhabiting the vast universe," wrote Qichaoxiguanghai on Sina Weibo, China's most popular microblog service provider.

"I heard the news of the Tiangong-1's launch from the radio on a ship to Yangzhou," wrote microblogger Xingfufeiafei. "I am proud to share the pride that shakes the world. The pride of our nation is once again deep in my heart."

Friday, September 23, 2011

China builds a patrol ship for Pakistani Navy

It looks quite stealthy.

ISLAMABAD - The first of a pair of new Azmat-class fast attack craft built by China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. (CSOC) for the Pakistan Navy was launched by Pakistani naval chief Adm. Noman Bashir, at the Xhinggang shipyard in Tianjin, China, on Sept. 20.

The 500-600 ton, 60-meter craft carries eight C-802A/CSS-N-8 Saccade anti-ship missiles.

A tender for two fast-attack craft was released in February 2010. In December 2010, a contract for an undisclosed amount was awarded to CSOC. Construction commenced in March 2011, and according to the Associated Press of Pakistan, PNS Azmat is expected to enter service by April 2012.

Images purported to be of the vessel show it to have a stealthy, angled, slab-sided superstructure. No other confirmed details are available, however.

A second vessel in the class is due to be constructed in Karachi.

Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank said the new fast-attack craft comes at a time when the Pakistan Navy is trying to modernize its capabilities while facing financial hardship.

Specifically, the Navy will use Azmat to "secure areas closer to shore, freeing up larger warships for other normal peacetime patrol duties or international commitments such as CTF-150 and CTF-151," which are the combined task forces patrolling waters near the Horn of Africa.

Shabbir did note the vessel's light air defense armament, though, saying it did not offer much protection.

Nevertheless, he welcomed its launch and said the new vessel is a further sign of Pakistan's increasing reliance on China for its defense needs.

"The Sino-Pak naval construction relationship is allowing this to happen", he said.

"This part of the overall Sino-Pak relationship will expand and deepen over time with more warships of various types, and the submarines that are currently undergoing construction in China for Pakistan," he said.

Indeed, during the launch ceremony, Bashir stated the present geo-political situation demanded further strengthening of Pakistan-China relations in order to safeguard regional peace, stability and prosperity. The launch of Azmat is a sign of the deepening Sino-Pak relationship, he said, stating, "This relationship over the years has matured in all fields, particularly in defense."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

China deploys new CSS-5 MRBM missile in Tibet

CSS-5 MRBM missile is solid fueled, with a range believed to be about 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi). The new GPS-based guidance system has reduced the missile’s CEP to 30~40m, enabling it for precision-strike missions.

China has deployed more advanced and survivable solid-fuel nuclear capable CSS-5 MRBM missiles against India as a 'deterrent posture', Pentagon has said warning that a high degree of mistrust continues to strain their bilateral ties.

The PLA has replaced liquid-fueled, nuclear-capable CSS-2 IRBMs with more advanced and survivable solid-fueled CSS-5 MRBM systems to strengthen its deterrent posture relative to India, the Pentagon has said in its annual report on Chinese military build up to the Congress.

The report also says that Beijing is pumping in huge investments on border infrastructure developments laying more roads and rail network along the Sino-Indian border.

"Although this construction is primarily aimed at facilitating economic development in western China, improved roads could also support PLA border defense operations," it said.

Pentagon said that New Delhi remains concerned by China's close military ties with Pakistan and its growing footprints in the Indian Ocean, Central Asia and Africa.

The report noted that Pakistan continued to be China's primary customer for conventional weapons and sales to Islamabad included newly rolled out JF-17 fighters with production facilities, F-22P frigates with helicopters, early warning and control aircraft, tanks, K-8 trainers, F-7 fighters, air-to-air missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles and missile technologies.

On Sino-Indian ties, Pentagon said, that though bilateral dialogue between the two nations increased, border tensions remained an irritant.

"China deepened its ties with India through increased trade and high-level dialogues in 2010, though border tensions remained an irritant in the bilateral relationship. Bilateral trade in 2010 reached nearly USD 60 billion," Pentagon said.

The two neighbours have held several rounds of dialogue over disputed territorial claims. Sino-Indian defense ties were institutionalised in 2007 with the establishment of an Annual Defense Dialogue, the report said.

"Though India cancelled high-level military exchanges following China's denial of visa to a senior Indian general in 2010, both sides agreed to resume exchanges in April 2011," the Pentagon said.

The US Defence Department in its assessment said that Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's trip to New Delhi in 2010 attempted to smooth over differences following a year of uneasy relations, but he did not address serious irritants.

"A high degree of mistrust continues to strain the bilateral relationship," it said.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

China creates Two New Military Aerial Teams

China's air force will introduce two new aerobatic teams this week in a sign of the military's growing public profile and sophistication.

Both aerial demonstration units will make their debut at an air show in the northeastern city of Changchun. Earlier this year, the air force began flight-testing its first stealth fighter jet.

The teams are known as the Sky Wing and the Red Falcons. Both will include experienced flight instructors and top-ranked pilots, and perform using two new Chinese-made training jets.

The military says the teams will promote international exchanges with foreign air forces.

The teams will perform Thursday with the 50-year old August First Air Demonstration Team of the People's Liberation Army Air Force.

The 16-member Sky Wing demonstration team will be attached to the Chinese Air Force Aviation University, the alma mater of Yang Liwei, the first Chinese astronaut.

The 18-member Red Falcon demonstration team will be based at the Third Flying College of the Chinese Air Force, which trained Zhai Zhigang, China's first space walker.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pakistan launched its first communication satellite in China

Pakistan successfully launched into space its state-of-the-art PakSat-1R communication satellite here from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, late Thursday night.A select group of senior Pakistani officials witnessed the Long March-3B rocket successfully carrying the communication satellite from the launch pad here with rounds of applause and jubilations visible on their faces.
Prominent among those present included Director General SPD Lt. General (Retd.) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khan, Secretary Defence Lt. General (Retd) Syed Ather Ali and Chairman Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), Major General Ahmed Bilal, besides senior officials from the Chinese government.
PakSat-1R, a geostationary and advanced communication satellite, has been jointly built by scientists and engineers from SUPARCO under the technical guidance and financial assistance from their Chinese counterpart, China National Space Administration.
The satellite carries communication payload to facilitate the introduction of a range of new services, including broadband Internet, digital television broadcasting, remote and rural telephony, emergency communications, tele-education and tele-medicine. The satellite is expected to have a lifespan of 15 years, and will be operated from SUPARCO Satellite Ground Stations located in Lahore and Karachi.
Speaking after the successful launch of the satellite, DG SPD who is leading the delegation, congratulated the entire team of Pakistani and Chinese engineers which contributed towards making this project successful. He expressed his gratitude to the government of China for providing support to Pakistan in space technology. He expressed the confidence that cooperation between the two countries in the field of space technology will continue to grow in the future, enabling Pakistan to reap rich benefits.
Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said “the successful launch is yet another shining illustration of the time-tested friendship between Pakistan and China and has ushered in a new era of cooperation in space technology between the two countries”.
“This also marks the next step in taking forward Pakistan’s space Programme “2040”, Salman Bashir said.
The launch of PakSat-1R has added a new chapter to the mutual cooperation between the all-weather allies in the field of space technology.
Ambassador Masood Khan regarded PakSat-1R’s launch as important for the country for many reasons. “It is a symbol of Pakistan-China cooperation in the area of space technology. It is the first of the kind to be launched by China and Pakistan. Therefore it establishes a new platform, and marks a new beginning”, he said.
Ambassador Khan said it is our natural aspiration that a Pakistani astronaut aboard a Chinese spacecraft flies to the space, adding that “this is possible because Pakistan and China enjoy relations of trust and confidence”.
Chairman SUPARCO Ahmed Bilal termed the launch as a “historic event” as it is for the first time that a commercial, fully capable communication satellite has been launched in which scientists and engineers of SUPARCO have worked very closely with the Chinese in all stages of its design and development. They have also gained firsthand experience of designing and manufacturing of Satellite, he said.
The Paksat-1R satellite is designed and manufactured by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
The satellite has 30 transponders onboard, including 12 C band and 18 Ku band transponders. To meet the coverage requirements, Paksat-1R has advance communication antennas, covering South Asian Sub-continent, the Middle East, east Africa and part of Western European areas and cities.
The Paksat-1R Programme is China Great Wall Industry Corporation’s (CGWIC) third satellite in-orbit delivery contract with its international customers.
President CGWIC, Yin Liming and Assistant President of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) Zhao Xiao Chen, Assistant President of CASC also spoke on the occasion.
They said the launch took place as Pakistan is celebrating its 65th Independence Day on August 14 and both Pakistan and China are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
He said the agreement to this effect was signed in October 2008, when President Asif Ali Zardari visited China, who also witnessed its signing ceremony along with President Hu Jintao.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

China's first aircraft carrier will have more than one commander

NINE top Chinese naval captains are to take command of the country's first aircraft carrier in turns.

The vessel, which is near completion, will be used to train pilots and crews for future aircraft carriers.

The nine, of senior colonel or higher rank, are graduates of the country's first warship academy class in 1987 for aircraft carrier commanders, the International Herald Leader, a Beijing-based newspaper, reported yesterday.

The Varyag, a vessel bought from Ukraine in 1998 which is being fitted out at a shipyard in Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning Province, will mainly be a training platform rather than a combat warship, the newspaper said. It will be the No. 83 training vessel of the Dalian Navy Academy, according to the report.

Smoke could be seen from the chimney of the conventionally powered warship, while its radar and missile systems were also being adjusted, indicating the carrier's maiden voyage would be soon, the newspaper said.

Aircraft carriers and cruisers must be named after the country's provincial level names, destroyers and frigates must be named after large or medium size cities, while smaller vessels can be named after mountains or famous people, according to a Chinese Navy rule.

However, the carrier may also be named after famous Chinese people according to another stipulation for training vessels.

A naming ceremony would be held after the carrier's maiden voyage, the report said.

It is widely suggested that the carrier be named after Shi Lang, an admiral in the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912) who led a fleet to Taiwan Island in 1681, or Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China.

The carrier will mainly anchor at naval bases in Shandong Province, Zhoushan Archipelago in Zhejiang Province or Yalong Bay in Hainan Island which are big enough for an aircraft carrier fleet, a military expert told the newspaper.

Cao Weidong, a researcher with the PLA Navy's Academic Research Institute, said the Varyag was a medium-sized carrier that would be equipped with engines, radar and other equipment made in China.

The carrier will land about 30 Chinese J-15 fighters and have about 2,000 of a crew.

The J-15 fighter is similar to Russia's cutting-edge Sukhoi Su-33 and as competent as the US F-18E/F, also known as the Super Hornet, fighter aircraft, the report said.

China is building another two aircraft carriers at a shipyard in Shanghai, the Voice of Russia quoted Pavel Kamennov, an expert at the Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, as saying.

Kamennov said China would build its first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and form an aircraft carrier group by 2020.

"China has been studying closely the experience of other countries in the aircraft carrier area, so it will undoubtedly acquire adequate experience," he told the radio station.

The Varyag was originally built by the former Soviet Union, which failed to complete the ship's construction before its collapse in 1991. Ukraine disarmed it and removed its engines before selling it to China.

When the refitting work is complete, China will then become the last of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and the 10th country in the world that owns an aircraft carrier.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

China is Developing EMP Pulse Weapons

The Chinese military is developing electromagnetic pulse weapons for use against U.S. aircraft carriers in any future dispute over Taiwan, a report said Friday.

The data was revealed in an intelligence assessment made public Thursday, the Washington Times reported, noting that the EMP development was part of a suite "assassin's mace" weapons a technologically inferior Chinese military planned to deploy against superior U.S. forces.

The paper said portions of the National Ground Intelligence Center study on the lethal effects of EMP said such a weapon mimics the effects of the gamma ray pulse emitted by a nuclear blast and can sap all electronics, including computers, automobiles and electric power grids, over wide areas.

The declassified report was obtained by the private National Security Archive, the Times reported. The group said the study provide details about the development of the Chinese weapons and the plans Beijing had for their use.

"For use against Taiwan, China could detonate at a much lower altitude (30 to 40 kilometers) … to confine the EMP effects to Taiwan and its immediate vicinity and minimize damage to electronics on the mainland," said the report, initially produced in 2005 and once labeled "Secret," the Times noted.

The report also said that in addition to EMP-type weapons, "any low-yield strategic nuclear warhead (or tactical nuclear warheads) could be used with similar effects."

It also said it wasn't clear whether China had yet to build such weapons. Pentagon assessments of Chinese military power since have made only passing references to such weapons, the Times reported.

China has long claimed Taiwan as its own province, though the island democracy has governed itself since Nationalists fled the mainland in 1949 following a civil war in which the Communists were victorious.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

China aims for moon, Mars, Venus

This year, a rocket will carry a boxcar-sized module into orbit, the first building block for a Chinese space station. Around 2013, China plans to launch a lunar probe that will set a rover loose on the moon. It wants to put a man on the moon, sometime after 2020.

While the United States is still working out its next move after the space shuttle program, China is forging ahead. Some experts worry the U.S. could slip behind China in human spaceflight - the realm of space science with the most prestige.

"Space leadership is highly symbolic of national capabilities and international influence, and a decline in space leadership will be seen as symbolic of a relative decline in U.S. power and influence," said Scott Pace, an associate NASA administrator in the George W. Bush administration. He was a supporter of Bush's plan - shelved by President Barack Obama - to return Americans to the moon.

China is still far behind the U.S. in space technology and experience, but what it doesn't lack is a plan or financial resources. While U.S. programs can fall victim to budgetary worries or a change of government, rapidly growing China appears to have no such constraints.

"One of the biggest advantages of their system is that they have five-year plans so they can develop well ahead," said Peter Bond, consultant editor for Jane's Space Systems and Industry. "They are taking a step-by-step approach, taking their time and gradually improving their capabilities. They are putting all the pieces together for a very capable, advanced space industry."

In 2003, China became the third country to send an astronaut into space on its own, four decades after the United States and Russia. In 2006, it sent its first probe to the moon. In 2008, China carried out its first spacewalk.

China's space station is slated to open around 2020, the same year the International Space Station is scheduled to close. If the U.S. and its partners don't come up with a replacement, China could have the only permanent human presence in the sky.

Its space laboratory module, due to be launched later this year, will test docking techniques for the space station. China's version will be smaller than the International Space Station, which is the size of a football field and jointly operated by the U.S., Russia, Canada, Japan and 11 European countries.

"China has lagged 20 to 40 years behind the U.S. in developing space programs and China has no intention of challenging U.S. dominance in space," said He Qisong, a professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. "But it is a sign of the national spirit for China to develop a space program and therefore it is of great significance for China."

Some elements of China's program, notably the firing of a ground-based missile into one of its dead satellites four years ago, have alarmed American officials and others who say such moves could set off a race to militarize space. That the program is run by the military has made the U.S. reluctant to cooperate with China in space, even though the latter insists its program is purely for peaceful ends.

"Space technology can be applied for both civilian and military use, but China doesn't stress the military purpose," said Li Longchen, retired editor-in-chief of Chinese magazine "Space Probe." "It has been always hard for humankind to march into space and China must learn the lessons from the U.S."

China is not the only country aiming high in space. Russia has talked about building a base on the moon and a possible mission to Mars but hasn't set a time frame. India has achieved an unmanned orbit of the moon and plans its first manned space flight in 2016.

The U.S. has no plans to return to the moon. "We've been there before," Obama said last year. "There's a lot more of space to explore." He prefers sending astronauts to land on an asteroid by 2025 and ultimately to Mars. But those plans are far from set.

Instead, NASA is closing out its 30-year space shuttle era this month, leaving the U.S. dependent on hitching rides to the space station aboard Russian Soyuz capsules at a cost of $56 million per passenger, rising to $63 million from 2014. The U.S. also hopes private companies will develop spacecraft to ferry cargo and crew to the space station.

China, having orbited the moon and starting collecting data on it, is moving toward sending a man there - and beyond. It hopes to launch the rover-releasing moon probe in about two years. Chinese experts believe a moon landing will happen in 2025 at the earliest.

"The lunar probe is the starting point for deep space exploration," said Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's moon-exploring program, in a 2010 interview posted on the national space agency's website. "We first need to do a good job of exploring the moon and work out the rocket, transportation and detection technology that can then be used for a future exploration of Mars or Venus."

In testimony in May to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which reports to the U.S. Congress, former NASA official Pace said what China learns in its space program can be applied elsewhere: improving the accuracy of ballistic missiles and quality controls for industry.

China also offers space technology to developing countries to secure access to raw materials, said Pace, now director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

There may also be economic reasons to explore the moon: It contains minerals and helium-3, a potential rich source of energy through nuclear fusion.

"But that's way ahead," said Bond, the Jane's editor. "A lot of it would be prestige, the fact that every time we went out and looked at the moon in the night sky we would say the Chinese flag is on there."


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bangladesh purchases 44 MBT-2000 tanks from China

For the first time in the history of Bangladesh, the government is set to buy 44 brand new modern MBT-2000 tanks and 3 armoured recovery vehicles (ARV) for the army, as a part of its planned modernisation.

The government will also buy two additional helicopters for the army to ensure necessary logistical support for the UN peacekeeping activities.

The tanks and ARVs will be bought from China, and the helicopters from France through government-to-government deals, which were recently signed. According to the deals, the cost of the tanks will be around Tk 1,201 crore, and the helicopters Tk 174 crore. Besides, a process is on to buy 18 brand new cannons.

"The tanks will be bought through a government to government deal ensuring maximum transparency," Master General of Ordnance (MGO) of Bangladesh Army Maj Gen Abdul Matin told The Daily Star yesterday.

"The purchase is being done as a part of modernisation of the Bangladesh Army," he said adding that the tanks will be delivered in phases over a span of 27 months. In the first phase 24 tanks will come within 20 months, and the rest will come in the second phase over the next 7 months.

The payment for the purchase will be made in phases over the next eight years, said the major general adding that the Chinese government will provide training to technicians of Bangladesh Army in China and in Bangladesh for a good period of time so that the tanks and ARVs could be maintained properly. The training will be free of charge, he said.

Maj Gen (retd) Amin Ahmed Chowdhury told The Daily Star that through this purchase, the military of the country will definitely get a boost.

The government in 2003 took initiatives to buy tanks for the army, but that initiative did not see the light of day due to budgetary limitations.

The government was supposed to buy seven tanks last year and seven more this year. As only a Chinese company took part in the tender, the government cancelled it, and re-invited tender in which four companies from China, Russia, Ukraine, and Pakistan participated. Chinese company Norinco was selected as the lowest bidder.

Later the army requested the government to buy 44 tanks instead of 14.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ukrainian firm to provide engines for China's L-15 trainer

Motor Sich ink contract with Chinese for engine supply

It is reported that Motor Sich has signed a contract with Chinese HAIC to supply AI-222-25F turbofan engines for its L-15 jet trainer. The deal was closed in spring and the first dozen of engines will be shipped in 2011.

According to Mr Oleksiy Gorovyy Millennium Capital analyst “The news is POSITIVE for Motor Sich. Although, the volumes and shipment schedule are uncertain, the agreement itself is critically important to sustain the revenue momentum at the company which now officially becomes the exclusive engine supplier for the program. The program will also help Motor Sich to reduce its dependence on the Russian customers to some extent.”

He said “A single engine for L-15 is worth USD 2 million an each plane will need at least two of those, leaving MSICH with over USD 4 million in immediate sales per each aircraft produced and some potential for aftermarket revenues. Our forecast is now for 300 planes produced over the entire lifespan of the program, yet we look forward to hearing more details to be comfortable with shipments and schedule.”


Sunday, June 12, 2011

PLA plans naval drill in western Pacific

A naval fleet of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) will conduct a training drill within international waters in the western Pacific Ocean from the middle to the end of this month, the Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday.

The ministry, in a news release issued by its Information Affairs Office, said that the training complies with relevant international laws and is not aimed at any particular country or specific target.

The ministry's reaction came after an earlier announcement made by Japan's Ministry of Defense on Wednesday, which said that eight Chinese navy ships, including guided missile destroyers, were on the high seas near Okinawa prefecture.

Japan's major media reported the news and said that the Chinese naval fleet was heading to the Pacific Ocean.

According to Kyodo News, Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF) is on alert and is continuing to monitor the fleet's movements.

China's Defense Ministry stressed that the upcoming drill is a "regular exercise" held "in accordance with the annual plan (of the PLA)".

"The Ministry of National Defense is quick to react and transparent in its military activities," said Yang Bojiang, a professor of Japanese studies at the University of International Relations in Beijing.

He said that the Japanese should not be concerned about the Chinese naval training exercises because all activities of China's navy are strictly confined to international waters.

It is not the first time that Japan has shown concern over China's naval training exercises.

An editorial article published on Asahi Shimbun's website last April even called Beijing's attitude "unacceptable" when a Chinese helicopter came close to a MSDF destroyer during training.

China has defended the move and said the country's military training in open seas near Japan was in line with the international conventions.

"Indeed, Japan is too nervous about China's normal naval training," Yang said.

"Japan's 2010 National Defense Program Guidelines asks to beef up defense in its southwestern area, but the Japanese government is facing serious financial problems, and the March 11 earthquake and tsunami have added to its fiscal woes. So I think some people in Japan, who have an interest in increased defense spending, want to play up China's military activities."


Monday, May 23, 2011

Whole Sale Defence Deals: Pakistan And China

Pakistan has looked towards its traditional ally after being bashed by the United States for its defense needs in 1965 and Pak-China defense & economic relationship never looked back. Current visit of the Pakistani Minister was a great success by all means as Pakistan was able to not only pursue China to stand by it in these difficult times but also agreed on number of pending defense deals.

Gawadar Port:

China has agreed to take over the operations of Gawadar Port in Pakistan at the request of the federal government after the

agreement with the Singapore Port Authority expires. Pakistani Defense Minister, Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar has announced in front of local media that Pakistan asked for Chinese in number of fields and China was immediately ready to help Pakistan in any way possible.

Type 054A Jiangkai-II Stealth Frigate:Pakistani Defense Minister, Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar has said that China has also agreed to provide loan for the purchase of the Chinese 4400 ton frigate. This agreement will clear the financial problems of the Pakistan Navy and it will be able to purchase new generation stealth Type 054A Jiangkai II Multi-Role frigate which is equipped with the HQ-16 Medium-Range Air Defence Missiles.

Chinese HQ-16 Surface to Air missile have range of over 50 kilometers launched from 32 vertical launch system (VLS) and is far more superior then the FM-90N surface-to-air missile (SAM) used on the F-22P Zulfiquar class frigate. Frigate will also use 8 C-802A or C-803 antiship missiles which have range in excess of 180km. Type 054A Jiangkai II frigate is designed with stealth features, including sloped hull design, radar.


Pakistan and China has also agreed to provide training to the personal of the Pakistan Navy on the Chinese submarines. Pakistani and China has already agreed earlier this year to jointly development and co-production of diesel electric submarines fitted with the Air Independent Propulsion to meet Pakistan Navy’s long standing requirement of six new generation of submarines.

Unconfirmed news from Indian sources also suggest that Pakistan and China has also discussed the possibility of leasing a Chinese nuclear powered attack submarine SSN to Pakistan Navy for limited time period.

Pakistan Navy has shown interest in leasing of SSN after the Indian leasing of SSN from Russia and construction of nuclear powered submarine armed with submarine launched ballistic missiles with Russian help.

New Naval Base:

Pakistani defence minister has also said that Pakistan has requested China to construct a naval base for Pakistan at the site of Gawader. This would be the third main naval base for the Pakistan navy.

JF-17 Thunders:

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has also asked Chinese counterpart to pursue PLAAF (Peoples Liberation Army Air Force) to induct JF-17 Thunder fighter jets in their air fleet. He said that this will bring lot of publicity for JF-17 Thunder which will be good for exports and further decrease the cost.

Pakistan and China has also agreed on the co-production of second batch of the JF-17 thunder aircraft for the Pakistan air force with advance avionics.

FC-20 Fighter Jets:

Pakistani Defense Minister, Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar has confirmed that Chinese friends have agreed to the Pakistani request to provide FC-20 fighter jet to the Pakistan Air Force.

FC-20 is an export version of the Chinese J-10B is a multirole fighter jet which was developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). J-10B was first time promoted to the Pakistan in 2006 during the visit of then President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf who was allowed to sit in the cockpit of J-10B. This made him the first foreign head of state to see the aircraft even before its existence was officially recognized.

On 12 April 2006 the Pakistani federal cabinet allowed Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to start negotiations for the initial purchase of 36 J-10Bs under designations of FC-20. Since then Pakistan Air Force has requested our Chinese friends to develop an improved version to meet the Pakistani requirements of high end front line fighter jet.

In 2009, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mehmood Ahmed, then Chief of the Air Staff of the PAF confirmed the Pakistani interest in purchase of atlease two squadrons of FC-20 in initial phase.

He also said Islamabad had asked Beijing to convey a message to Washington that “our sovereignty be respected”.

The Chinese government “assured us of help in removing hurdles in the way of Pakistan’s progress”, the Defence Minister said.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

China's first aircraft carrier nears completion

After nearly nine years of refurbishing work, China’s first aircraft carrier — a platform that could add to Taiwan’s defense concerns — could soon embark on its maiden voyage, Chinese media reported last week.

Work on the Varyag, a refurbished carrier purchased from Ukraine in 1998 for about US$20 million, was near completion and the hull was being painted in the standard Chinese naval color, a Web site associated with the state-run People’s Daily newspaper reported last Wednesday.

Seen as one of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) last accomplishments before he steps down next year, the aircraft carrier could take to sea as early as July 1, reports said.

Expected to be renamed “Shi Lang,” after the Qing Dynasty admiral who conquered what is now known as Taiwan in 1681, the carrier has been undergoing modernization work at the port of Dalian since 2002. Although the hull was built in 1988 by the former Soviet Union, the vessel acquired by China did not include the electronic circuits, radars, antennas, engines or other devices.

A report by UK-based Jane’s Defence Weekly on Friday said the carrier would come equipped with phased array radars and surface-to-air missiles, making it a more independent platform than its US equivalent, which is dependent on Aegis-type guided missile cruisers for protection.

Commenting on the reports, Lan Ning-li (蘭寧利), a retired vice admiral in the Republic of China Navy, told the Central News Agency last week that after being assigned to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy fleet in the South China Sea fleet, the carrier would be in a position to move in areas surrounding southern and eastern Taiwan, a scenario that would pose “a certain threat” to the country.

Even if Taiwanese vessels could block entry from the north and south sides of the Taiwan Strait, the “Shi Lang” would still allow China to expand its naval activities eastward into the Pacific, he said.

“That will make Taiwan vulnerable to enemy attacks at sea from both front and rear,” Lan said.

Despite reports that refurbishing work had entered its final phase, many of the sophisticated electronics on the carrier likely had yet to be installed, Lan said.

A picture provided by the People’s Daily showed the large bridge, minus the phased array radar, nearing completion.

The 302m long and 70.5m wide carrier, which comes with a loaded displacement of 67,000 tonnes and a speed of between 29 knots and 31 knots, can host as many as 50 aircraft of various types — possibly including Russian-made SU-33 and carrier-modified, Chinese-made J-10, as well as anti-submarine -helicopters and early-warning helicopters.

As Chinese pilots have no experience taking off from and landing aircraft on carriers, it could be a while before the impact on regional security of the deployment of the “Shi Lang” is truly felt.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

China launches satellite for indigenous global navigation Beidou

BEIJING: China early on Sunday morning launched its eighth orbiter which will form part of its indigenous satellite-navigation and positioning network.

A Long March-3A carrier rocket carrying the "Beidou" or Compass, navigation satellite took off at 4.47 a.m. Sunday from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Xinhua reported.

It will join seven other satellites already in the orbit to form a network which will eventually consist of over 30 satellites.

The launching of the satellite marks the establishment of a basic system for the navigation and positioning network, said an unidentified spokesperson for the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre.

China will launch more satellites within the coming two years to finish a regional network to provide navigation services with high precision and credibility for industries and sectors such as mapping, fishery, transportation, meteorology and telecommunication, in the Asia-Pacific regions, the spokesperson said.

The network is scheduled to be able to provide global services by 2020.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

China Takes The High Ground in Tibet with new air bases

India believes that China now has five airfields in Tibet (Gongar, Pangta, Linchi, Hoping and Gar Gunsa) that are bases for military aircraft. India is also seeing more Chinese warplanes being based full time in Tibet. This was somewhat unexpected, and it's all about thin air.

It was less than a year ago that, for the first time, Chinese J-11 jet fighters were seen training over Tibet. J-11s are the most modern Chinese made fighters. More than 200 have been built since they were introduced in the late 1990s, they are appearing in more unexpected places (like the Chinese naval air force). For a long time, the Chinese Air Force had no combat aircraft stationed in Tibet, except for some older (MiG-21 clones) J-7s that were flown in regularly, for temporary duty at major commercial airports. Some of these J-7s now appear to be there permanently.

The main reason for not stationing fighter squadrons in Tibet probably has to do with the high altitude of the area, and the expense of moving the large quantities of fuel and other supplies needed to maintain air units. There is only one rail line into Tibet (recently built) and few heavy duty truck roads. In all of Tibet, there are only 58,000 kilometers of roads.

China also has a serious problem in Tibet with altitude sickness among its troops. This illness occurs when people who grew up near sea level (most of the world's population) move to altitudes greater than 2,100 meters (7,000 feet). Below that, the air contains 21 percent oxygen. Above that, the weaker air pressure lowers the amount of oxygen the body can absorb. That produces "altitude sickness", manifested by shortness of breath, disorientation, nosebleeds, nausea, dehydration, difficulty sleeping and eating, headaches and, if you stay up there long enough, chronic disability.

The average altitude of Tibet is 4,100 meters (14,000 feet). Most people can adapt, sort of, to the altitude sickness. Some can't. But the Tibetans have evolved to deal with it. The majority of Chinese soldiers coming to the Tibetan highlands (which is most of Tibet) require a few days, or weeks, to acclimate. But they are still susceptible to altitude sickness if they exert themselves, especially for extended periods. This makes Chinese military personnel in Tibet much less effective, especially in an emergency or combat.

Researchers recently discovered that most Tibetans evolved in the last 3-6,000 years to deal with this problem. It appears that most of the people moving to, and staying in, highland Tibet, were those with the rare genes that made them resistant to altitude sickness. These people became the dominant population in Tibet, mainly because they were healthier at high altitudes. Nearly all Tibetans have this gene (which controls how their red blood cells operate, to maintain sufficient oxygen levels). Very few lowland Chinese have these genes.

The Chinese military is spending a lot of time, effort and money trying to solve this problem. Chinese troops operating at the highest altitudes (4,500 meters, on the Indian border) now have access to exercise rooms (one of 1,000 square meters and another of 3,000 square meters) that are supplied with an oxygen enriched atmosphere. Troops exercising in these rooms increase the oxygen in the blood, and are much less likely to get hit with a case of altitude sickness. Thus the troops can stay in shape without getting sick. For border patrols at high altitudes, troops usually carry oxygen bottles and breathing masks.

So far, the Chinese have only been able to limit the attrition from altitude sickness, not eliminate it. Given the alertness required of aircraft maintenance personnel, and pilots preparing for flights, plus the logistical problems, the air force has declared Tibet fit to visit, but not to base aircraft units in. Still, the Chinese air force may one day have to fight in the air space over Tibet, so some training up there is in order.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pakistan plans to acquire 6 submarines from China

Most likely AIP equipped Yuan Class SSK.

After inducting advance fighter jets from China, Pakistan plans to buy six state-of-the-art submarines from the neighbouring country in a bid to boost its under-sea warfare capabilities.

Islamabad is planning to buy six submarines outright with options of joint development of conventional submarines with China, The Express Tribune reported.

The newspaper did not mention the class of submarines being sought by Pakistan saying merely that Islamabad wanted advanced under-sea vessels with air independent propulsion (AIP) system, which would give them capabilities to stay submerged longer and operate noiselessly.

The Defence Ministry has asked the federal Cabinet to approve the purchase of Chinese submarines to counter “emerging threats” faced by Pakistan, the paper said.

Pakistan has a total of five active diesel electric submarines plus three midget submarines. While the three submarines are of German SSK class, Islamabad had recently inducted two French Agosta class ones.

With attempts to acquire AIP technology, Islamabad would be in race with New Delhi, which plans to arm its French Scorpene submarines with the technology but only by 2013.

Pakistan’s Defence Ministry informed the Cabinet that the country’s Navy is facing a “critical force imbalance” in terms of the number of submarines and ships in its fleet.

The “capability gap is widening exponentially with the passage of time”, the report said.

The Navy plans to acquire the six AIP conventional submarines that can operate in a “multi-threat environment under tropical conditions” and are capable of launching torpedoes and missiles, the Business Recorder daily quoted official documents as saying.

A protocol for joint development and co-production of submarines by the Pakistan Navy and China Shipbuilding and Offshore Corporation will be signed shortly after approval by the federal Cabinet, the paper said.

In view of “urgent naval requirements”, the issue of acquiring Chinese submarines was part of the talking points for President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to China in 2009, media reports said.

The matter was also discussed during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Pakistan in December 2010, the reports said.

The Cabinet has been told that Naval Headquarters had pursued the purchase of submarines with Chinese authorities, who have assured Pakistan of their “firm support” for the submarine project.

Under the proposed protocol, four submarines will be constructed at a Chinese shipyard and the remaining two in Pakistan.

Co-development and production will include joint development, training of Pakistani personnel, upgrades of Pakistan Navy’s shipyard and other related aspects.

Pakistan is in the process of inducting 36 J-10 fighter aircraft from China in a deal worth more than $1.4 billion, with options open for induction of more similar aircraft.

Islamabad and Beijing are also collaborating to build an advanced fighter — JF-17 or ‘Thunder’.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

China sends missile frigate Xuzhou to Libya

A first for the Chinese navy.

We’re used to seeing the U.S. Navy pull American citizens out of warzones. Now, China’s navy is doing the same thing — sending a ship to snag its people out of Libya, as the country teeters on the brink of civil war.

China has redeployed the 4,000 ton missile frigate Xuzhou from its anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden to assist in the evacuation of its nationals from Libya. It’s the “the first ever dispatch” of a Chinese navy vessel to run a “non-combatant evacuation,” China SignPost’s Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson note.

The move underlines the growth in Chinese naval power, Collins and Erickson write. And with a number of Chinese workers employed in potentially unstable countries around the world, the evacuation likely serves as a dress rehearsal for future crises.

China has already evacuated some 12,000 of its 30,000 nationals in Libya, flying some to nearby Egypt and placing others on chartered passenger lines. Pressure for a swift exit has grown as the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) reported attacks against its oil facilities in Libya, though the company’s 391 employees are reportedly unharmed.

China joins a number of countries who’ve sent military ships or aircraft to evacuate their citizens from the growing violence in Libya. Britain’s Royal Navy has sent a destroyer to Libya to remove British oil workers currently stranded in the country. South Korea has also diverted a warship from its nearby anti-piracy mission to assist in the evacuation of its citizens.

In Tripoli today, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi made an appearance in the city’s Green Square, giving a defiant speech amidst a supportive crowd.

“I am in the middle of the people,” he said. “We will fight … we will defeat them if they want … we will defeat any foreign aggression.”

His comments follow a rambling, incoherent speech made by phone on Libyan state TV yesterday in which Gadhafi blamed the uprising on al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden lacing young peoples’ Nescafe with drugs.

Despite the welcome Gadahfi received for his speech and the government-issued talking points given to prayer leaders demanding quiet, protesters left Friday prayers today and marched on the capital and were met with random gunfire from the Libyan security forces awaiting them.

Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, has already fallen to anti-government forces. A number of former army officers who have defected from the Gadhafi regime pledged to send forces to help oust the government from power. The Wall Street Journal quoted a Libyan army colonel and defector in Benghazi: “We will not stop until we liberate the whole country.”


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

China's naval fleet off to 8th anti-piracy mission

China is keeping a continued presence in Middle East.

Family members wave goodbye to the sailors and Chinese naval officers who have been sent out to the Gulf of Aden for the anti-piracy mission in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang province, Feb 21, 2011. Missile destroyers "Wenzhou" and "Ma'anshan", backbone warships of the eighth Chinese naval fleet, heading for the Gulf of Aden, will meet with the supply ship of "Qiandaohu" to conduct anti-piracy mission.

Sailors sent out to the Gulf of Aden for the eighth anti-piracy mission wave goodbye aboard a missile frigate in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang province, Feb 21, 2011.

China's navy officers sent out to the Gulf of Aden for the eighth anti-piracy mission wave goodbye aboard a missile destroyer in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang province, Feb 21, 2011.

Missile destroyers "Wenzhou" and "Ma'anshan" are ready to set sail to the Gulf of Aden at an East China's port in Zhejiang province, Feb 21, 2011.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

China tests unmanned orbital spacecraft

China has successfully tested its first orbital unmanned spacecraft capable of staying in the outer space for at least 270 days and dealing with various defense tasks, including the destruction of communication satellites.

This Chinese robotic space plane will most certainly challenge US air force’s X-37B unmanned spacecraft that performed its first mission last year. This elusive spacecraft is capable of striking any target on Earth at any time and cannot be tracked down using the existing ABM means.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

China performs a secret satellite rendezvous

Earlier this month, two Chinese satellites met up in orbit. Depending on who you believe, it’s either a sign of China’s increasingly-sophisticated space program — or a sign of its increasingly-sophisticated space warfare program.

A well-regarded Russian space watcher was the first to note that the two satellites, newly-launched SJ-12 and two-year-old SJ-06F, had performed maneuvers indicating a cutting edge procedure called non-cooperative robotic rendezvous. A loose network of amateur space spectators and astronomers soon congregated online, and confirmed that the sats had, indeed, converged.

This kind of rendezvous can have extremely useful, and benign, applications: removing space debris, refueling satellites or repairing craft in orbit. But the military apps are massive, and include up-close inspection of foreign satellites, espionage — and the infliction of some serious damage to adversarial space infrastructure. In other words, orbital warfare that, given just how reliant we are on satellite technology, would have widespread consequences on the ground.

“These kinds of rendezvous have been done plenty of times with ground control, but robotically controlled satellites, rendezvousing at higher altitudes, is really quite new,” says Brian Weeden, who offers an in-depth rundown of the incident at The Space Review. “The perception of how this technology is being developed, and what it is being used for, is extremely important.”

The United States is the only other country known to have performed a similar feat. In 2005, NASA researchers launched DART (Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology) in an effort to rendezvous with a Navy satellite. Navigational errors led to the two satellites bumping, but the initiative did offer proof-of-concept that American scientists were making major headway towards satellites that can autonomously meet up in space. Since then, the Darpa-funded Orbital Express program has demonstrated the capacity for satellites to rendezvous for refueling and module swapping.

So, in a sense, it was really only a matter of time before China followed suit. In recent years, they’ve fast-tracked a handful of space exploration and development projects, culminating in a satellite-killing weapons program and 90-pound mini-sat that some speculated was designed with nefarious intent.

“The Chinese would be absolutely incompetent to not be trying to reduce U.S advantage in space,” James Oberg, a former NASA space engineer specializing in orbital rendezvous, tells Danger Room. “No potential adversary in their right mind would give us permanent advantage in space operations.”

Weeden notes that neither the United States or Chinese governments have been especially forthcoming about their progress on satellite rendezvous capacities, not to mention respective satellite arsenals and specific locations. The dilemma is even more salient because, as this incident illustrates, knowledgeable amateurs with the right equipment can do their own detective work — and then meet online to share the results.

“There’s a continued assumption among governments that if they don’t publish satellite details and locations, nobody is going to figure it out,” Weeden says. “That’s wrong.”

In this instance, China’s government has yet to acknowledge the incident, and their apparent choice of location for the actual rendezvous adds to the troubling puzzle. According to Oberg, the satellite meet-up occurred in an orbit almost exclusively devoted to earth observation — spy and weather satellites, for example — where “a potential adversary would be most interested in rendezvousing.”

“On the other hand, it’s also where a satellite might need refueling,” he adds. “It’s like you could be changing a screwdriver for a hammer, or you could be turning a peaceful ‘bot into a killer one.”

But China’s been eager to boast about their prior space exploration projects, and have already publicized plans for a major satellite rendezvous trial next year, so silence in this instance seems telling.

“There’s still a vague possibility that this was a matter of computational bias and coincidence,” Oberg says. “But the silence here is suggestive of a military program.”

For now, web-based space watchers will keep working. They’re hoping to figure out whether or not the Chinese satellites touched, which would indicate either an error like that of the DART attempt or some kind of military trial run. Regardless, the rendezvous is a stark reminder that the safety of American deep-space systems is by no means guaranteed.

“For all we know, these could just be mind games. They don’t have to attack U.S space capacities — they just have to make us think they could,” Oberg says. “We’re not playing chess in space, we’re playing Go. This makes chess look like a kindergartner’s pastime.”


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chinese Stealth plane J-20 surprise US analysts

The U.S. flew its first stealth prototypes — the YF-22 and rival YF-23 — in 1990. Have the Chinese caught up? There are blurry pictures of the Chinese J-20 jet-fighter floating around. Some think the pictures are fake, others think that the pictures are real and have been pulled. Some analysts think that the pictures could be the products of a Chinese government misinformation campaign.

Chinese Internet forums are circulating the pictures. The airplane depicted in the snapshots has many of the appropriate characteristics for a fifth-generation stealth-fighter prototype. It has a chiseled front-section, triangular wings, and a moving tailplanes. The Chinese J-20 seems to combine the front fuselage of the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 with the back half of Russia’s T-50 stealth prototype.

The J-20’s appearance have shaken the aviation industry that didnt expect a Chinese Stealth fighter for a decade. The J-20 seems to signal a big step forward for the Chinese air force. The PLA-Airforce seems to have come of age. It is no longer dependent on obsolete Russian or Israeli designs.

Is this the end of the US dominance of the air? Jittery analysts are still confused about the F-22 and the F-35.

The analysts sounded alarm bells when the Russia’s new T-50 fighter first flew.

The Pentagon has delayed F-35 production and China has apparently accelerated its own stealth development.

the J-20 hasn’t even flown yet. It took 15 years for the F-22 to enter front-line service; considering China’s quality-control problems with high technology, it could take a decade or more for the J-20 to appear in numbers that make any difference in the Pacific balance of power. Gates might have been slightly off in his assessment of the Chinese air force, but probably not by much.