Monday, December 3, 2012

China's J-15 succesfully completed takeoffs and landings on the Liaoning

China's home-made fighters have successfully completed takeoffs and landings on the Liaoning, the country's first aircraft carrier. This effectively opens a new chapter for the country's carrier development, ending speculations that the vessel is "incomplete" due to a lack of ship-borne jets, experts say.

The announcement was first made by the Xinhua News Agency. At least two Shenyang J-15 fighters took off and landed on the flight-deck of the Liaoning, which was commissioned to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy two months ago. The exact time and date of the first landing and takeoff were not revealed, but according to China Central Television (CCTV), the operations took place from Thursday to Saturday. The first pilot to land on the Liaoning was named as Dai Mingmeng (戴明盟).

According to the PLA's official website, a total of five fighter pilots successfully accomplished the missions, after receiving special low-visibility, crosswind and turbulent environment training. The capabilities of the carrier platform and the J-15 were both tested, meeting all requirements and achieving good compatibility, the PLA Navy told Xinhua, officially acknowledging the existence of the J-15 fighter for the first time.

The J-15 is reported to use different avionics and systems than the Su-33, and uses Chinese-developed technologies, and features various upgrades such as AESA radar, radar absorbent material, MAWS, IRST, composite, and new electronics. An article in the China Signpost believes the J-15 "likely exceeds or matches the aerodynamic capabilities of virtually all fighter aircraft currently operated by regional militaries, with the exception of the U.S. F-22 Raptor", alleging that the J-15 likely possesses a 10% superior thrust to weight ratio and a 25% lower wing loading than the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. However, one of the authors of that same article described the J-15 in another as no game changer.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

China tests J-31, its second stealth fighter

Looks like Shenyang Aircraft Corporation is competing with Chengdu Aircraft Corporation for orders from China air force. Hopefully, more market based incentives will improve China's aviation industry. On the other hand, J-31 may complement J-20, similar to F-35 to F-22.

China's second stealth fighter made its maiden flight on Wednesday, with experts hailing this as a milestone for the country's military aviation industry, especially in design and manufacturing.

Coinciding with its provisional designation J-31 and serial number 31001, the fighter took off at 10:32 am on Wednesday and landed 11 minutes later on the runway of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC), Liaoning Province, one witness told the Global Times.

Major military news websites such as the Netease and immediately confirmed the maiden flight after witnesses uploaded photos and described the event on defense forums.

Compared with the heavy fighter J-20, the J-31 is a middle sized fighter using Russian middle-thrust engines, although it will later be equipped with Chinese-made WS-13 engines, UK-based Combat Aircraft Monthly has reported.

"Just like the US F-22 and F-35 fifth-generation fighters, the J-20 and J-31 will complement each other during future operations," Bai Wei, former deputy editor of the Aviation World weekly, told the Global Times.

"The J-31 is almost certainly designed with the intention to have the potential of operating on aircraft carriers (China is building a new aircraft carrier of own design), judging from its enhanced double-wheel nose landing gear and two big tail wings, which help increase vertical stability," Bai said. He added the J-31 might replace or supplement China's first land-based fighter, the J-15, which was also developed by SAC.

Lin Zuoming, president of AVIC, and Li Yuhai, its vice general manager, arrived at the SAC facility on Tuesday, inspected the aircraft development center and thanked the staff for their "important contributions."

Similarly to the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter, the Shenyang J-31 was first revealed to coincide with a visit of the US Defense Secretary in mid-September.

The two stealth fighters have made China, after the US, the second country to develop two fifth-generation fighters. "China needs both heavy fighters and cheaper, smaller ones to defend its vast airspace," said Bai, adding that the J-31 might also aim for export market.

"It is encouraging that AVIC developed the two fighters simultaneously. There was a nine-year gap between the maiden flights of the American F-22 and F-35," he added.

Bill Sweetman, editor for the US-based Aviation Week magazine, wrote on his blog that the J-31 is a JSF (F-35) without the constraints imposed by the requirements of the F-35's Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant, which effectively limited the weapon bay volume and shape of all F-35 models.

"It looks as if the engines are to the rear of the bulkhead that carries the main landing gear…the designers have been able to install long weapon bays," he commented on the J-31.

"If you ever wondered what a JSF (F-35) might look without those constraints, we now have a live, physical example. Unfortunately…it is Chinese," Sweetman wrote.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chinese Air Force's newest transport: Y-9

Y-9 represents China's attempt to build a C-130J class transport, a rather challenging task.
While there has been no official announcement, cell phone photos coming out of Xian, China show several of the new Y-9 four-engine turboprop transports flying with Chinese Air Force paint jobs. This was expected, as last year it was noted that long-delayed flight testing of the Y-9 transport plane had begun. This comes after years of starting and then stopping development of this four engine turboprop aircraft, similar to the American C-130.

It was in 2009 that China revived its effort to build the Y-9, but many believed it was just another false start. Not this time. The initial Y-9 design effort began in 2001, but the manufacturer ran into personnel and quality control problems and put the effort on hold after a few years. The government, and Chinese Air Force, apparently decided that now was the time for China to have a competitor for the American C-130.

The Y-9 is a 77 ton, Chinese designed, transport aircraft that can carry 25 tons (or nine 108x88 inch/2.7x2.3 meter pallets or 132 paratroopers). It has a crew of four, a cruise speed of 650 kilometers an hour, and has a max ferry range of 7,800 kilometers. It is being built in Xian Aircraft Inc.

The Y-9 is basically a stretched version of the 61 ton Y-8F-200, which is, in turn, a Chinese copy and upgrade of the Russian An-12. Like the U.S. C-130, the An-12 was developed in the 1950s, and is still used by civilian cargo haulers all over the world. Some 1,200 An-12s were built (during 1957-73), compared to about a hundred 100 Y-8s (which began production in 1981). Over 2,300 C-130s have been built so far and is very popular with many military and civilian users.

China wants to reduce its dependence on Russia for transport aircraft and has noted the success of the latest version of the C-130 and the C-130J (a 79 ton aircraft with a crew of three, that can carry 33 tons of cargo, 8 pallets, or 92 paratroopers). The latest model, the C-130J has a cruise speed of 644 kilometers an hour and max ferry range of 7,400 kilometers.

China has operated the civilian version of the C-130 in the past (anyone can verify this ?), thus there are Chinese aeronautical experts familiar with the design. For the last half century few aircraft designs have been wholly original. The best ones took past ideas and recombined them into new designs, using new technology to produce better aircraft. This is apparently what China has done with the Y-9, which is aimed at military and civilian users.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chinese K-8 Aircraft Completes Test Flight At 4,000 Meters Above Sea Level

China continues to improve on the K-8 trainer to meet different training scenarios.
At 4000 meters, K-8 should perform adequately when deployed to Tibet.

      The second stage of K8 test flight trainer was successfully completed at a plateau airport 4,058 meters above sea level. Chinese and foreign pilots jointly completed all plateau test subjects, including six sorties of both models of clean configuration +50% and +100% built-in fuel.

      Earlier, K8 aircrafts were only used at plain airports less than 1,500 meters above sea level. Now, K8 series aircrafts can meet the operation requirements in the plateau airport 4,058 meters above sea level.

      To meet the user’s needs and expand the range of application of K8 aircrafts, a series of development and test work has been done to improve its plateau adaptability.

      The success of K8 test flight at plateau area makes it the first Chinese military aircraft taking off at 4,058 meters above sea level.

      The K8 aircraft is now able to take off, land and operate at 99.9% airports around the globe.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chinese frigate Yantai visits Bulgaria's Black sea port

This must be the first time Chinese navy enters Black sea. Yantai 烟台 is a new Type 054A class frigate, 4000 tons, launched on August 24, 2010. It belongs to North Sea fleet. Bulgarian navy officers look at the helicopter on the deck of the frigate "Yantai" at Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna on August 6, 2012. The frigate "Yantai", one of the 11th group of Chinese navy escort ships for an escort mission on the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, arrived here on Sunday to make a five-day goodwill visit. Rear Admiral Xia Kewei (2nd L), political commissar of the 11th Chinese naval escort taskforce, shake hands with Kiril Yordanov (1st R), mayor of Varna, during their meeting at Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna on August 6, 2012. The frigate "Yantai", one of the 11th group of Chinese navy escort ships for an escort mission on the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, arrived here on Sunday to make a five-day goodwill visit. Kiril Yordanov (2nd L), mayor of Varna, meets with Rear Admiral Xia Kewei (3rd R), political commissar of the 11th Chinese naval escort taskforce, at Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna on August 6, 2012. The frigate "Yantai", one of the 11th group of Chinese navy escort ships for an escort mission on the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, arrived here on Sunday to make a five-day goodwill visit. Bulgarian navy officers visit the frigate "Yantai" at Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna on August 6, 2012. The frigate "Yantai", one of the 11th group of Chinese navy escort ships for an escort mission on the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, arrived here on Sunday to make a five-day goodwill visit. Bulgarian navy officers look at the helicopter on the deck of the frigate "Yantai" at Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna on August 6, 2012. The frigate "Yantai", one of the 11th group of Chinese navy escort ships for an escort mission on the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, arrived here on Sunday to make a five-day goodwill visit. Bulgarian navy officers look at the helicopter on the deck of the frigate "Yantai" at Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna on August 6, 2012. The frigate "Yantai", one of the 11th group of Chinese navy escort ships for an escort mission on the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, arrived here on Sunday to make a five-day goodwill visit.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chavez: Venezuela to buy tanks from China

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his government will buy amphibious tanks from China for its military.

Chavez isn't saying how many of the armored vehicles Venezuela intends to buy, but says the deal signed Tuesday calls for a Chinese company to begin delivering the tanks next year.

He announced the deal in a speech to troops, saying the $500 million cost will be financed through loans that China has offered Venezuela in exchange for oil shipments.

In recent years Chavez has also agreed to billions of dollars in arms deals with Russia, buying fighter jets, helicopters, assault rifles and surface-to-air missiles.

The Venezuelan leader is seeking re-election in an October vote.

Looks like the tank China is selling is T-63A.
It is a 20 tons amphibious light tank with a 85mm rifle gun, probably suitable for the forested South American terrain.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

China’s Jiaolong submersible plunges below 7,000 meters

China’s Jiaolong submersible plunges below 7,000 meters

This definitely may have military applications in the future, as well as commercial ones. China is planning to mine the seabed for minerals.

A week after China made history by sending astronauts to its space station, the country has celebrated another success in proving its technological prowess.

At 11 a.m. local time on Sunday, the country’s manned submersible Jiaolong successfully completed its deepest test dive yet, to 7,020 metres in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean, reports China Daily.

China now joins an exclusive club of countries that are capable of achieving human access to the deep sea. The other countries are the United States, Russia, France and Japan. The achievement will allow China to explore more than 99.8% of the ocean floor, Liu Cigui, director China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA), told the media.

“Jiaolong’s 7,020-metre dive is a remarkable milestone achievement,” says Jian Lin, a marine geophysicist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. “It symbolizes China’s increasing leadership in scientific exploration of the deep ocean.”

Jiaolong, named after a mythical sea dragon, is about eight metres long and weighs nearly 22 tonnes, with a crew of three. The construction of the vessel, spearheaded by SOA and the science ministry, began in 2002.

Yesterday’s dive was the fourth of six that Jiaolong is scheduled to undertake in the current expedition. During the 11-hour dive, the scientists aboard Jiaolong conducted geological surveys, took photographs and video footage and collected water, rock, sediment and animal samples.

The depth that Jiaolong reached is not the deepest place humans have ever been. But it is the deepest point achieved by any scientifically designed manned submersible. The previous record holder was Japan’s Shinkai, which can dive to a depth of 6,500 metres.

The submersible’s three-person crew can allow for a range of sophisticated scientific activities such as observations, collecting biological and geological samples, deploying instruments, and conducting experiments, says Lin.

“Jiaolong’s deep-diving capability will lead to exciting scientific discoveries in the coming years,” says Lin.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Indian source: China ready with its own stealth fighter jet

Interesting view from Indian newspaper:

China is ready with its version of an operational stealth fighter jet and is set to induct the first lot anytime soon. The stealth fighter will put additional pressure on India in its defence preparedness plans as its neighbour races ahead in ramping up its air fleet, Army equipment, missiles and naval warships besides critical infrastructure like railways and road network.

China’s first lot of 24 stealth fighters is ready for induction, Indian security agencies have informed the government. The Chinese have named the fighter J-16, not to be confused with the under development fifth generation stealth fighter Chengdu J-20. However, unlike the Chengdu J-20, the J-16 is based on tried and tested platform of the Russian origin Sukhoi-30-MK2.

Though the Sukhoi-30 design is not ideal for stealth technology, the Chinese engineers have reportedly tweaked the wings and brought them more in line to provide it stealth, preventing enemy radars from picking it up to launch a counter-offensive, sources told The Tribune.

Beijing has named the J-16 as an ‘intermediate stealth fighter’ that will fill in till the originally planned fifth generation J-20 is inducted in 2017. Due to its size and weight, the J-20, probably, according to analysts, needs a set of newer, more powerful engines than the existing AL-31 engines borrowed from the Russian Sukhoi 27. Till then, as the J-20 develops, China has virtually changed the game in relation to India by developing the J-16 to meet its immediate needs. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China was the first to show interest in the J-16. The Shenyang-based factory producing the plane has been asked to produce these with capability to fire anti-ship missiles, sources said.

The indication of the PLAN showing an interest is being keenly observed as the Sukhoi — on which the J-16 is based — can fly for long distances. India and China are competing to emerge as dominant navies in the region while the US has just announced its policy to shift focus to the Asia-Pacific region. India is co-designing and co-producing with Russia a fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) with stealth technology under a $35 billion programme. The plane code named PAK FA T-50 is being regularly test flown at KnAAPO’s airfield in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia. It is powered by Russian-origin AL-41-A engine which is much more powerful and some 150 kg lighter than the AL 31, powering the Chinese aircraft the J-20. However, the Indo-Russian fighter is unlikely to be inducted till 2017.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

China astronauts complete first space docking

Chinese astronauts carried out a manned docking with an experimental space module on Monday, the latest milestone in China's ambitious campaign to build a space station.

The Shenzhou (Devine Vessel) 9 and its three-person crew, which includes China's first woman in space Liu Yang, linked with the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1 module, with state television showing the pictures live.

Almost three hours later, the blue jumpsuit-wearing mission commander, Jing Haipeng, entered the module followed by colleague Liu Wang and Liu Yang (first female astronaut for China), the first time China has been able to transfer astronauts between two orbiting craft.

Rendezvous and docking exercises between the two vessels are an important hurdle in China's efforts to acquire the technological and logistical skills to run a full space lab that can house astronauts for long periods.

During the 13-day mission, the astronauts will work and sleep aboard Tiangong 1, a trial module that includes an exercise bike and a video telephone booth, according to Xinhua.

The mission has been accompanied by a blaze of national pride and has been given blanket coverage by state media, down to discussion on how flying a space ship is a bit like driving a car and how the astronauts will be able to spice up their food with chilli sauce.

The docking mission is the latest show of China's growing prowess in space and comes while budget restraints and shifting priorities have held back U.S. manned space launches.

This is China's fourth manned space mission since 2003 when astronaut Yang Liwei became the country's first person in orbit.

Monday, June 11, 2012

China testing unmanned helicopter (UAV) on Type 054A frigate

Type 054A Frigate can carry the much larger Z-9C helicopter, why the need for the small unmanned S-100 ?

A Chinese frigtate has been photographed operating a small unmanned helicopter that appears to be the Schiebel Camcopter S-100.

Earlier this week, the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) released images of the unmanned air vehicle (UAV) and a Chinese Type 054A missile frigate taken by a surveillance aircraft.

An industry source familiar with China's UAV sector says it is "common knowledge" in the industry that China obtained 18 of the Austrian-built UAVs two years ago.

"This is just a Schiebel UAV helicopter," he says, referring to the images. "China purchased 18 of these two years ago. It is the only UAV helicopter this size that is capable of taking off and landing aboard a ship."

When contacted by Flightglobal, a Schiebel representative would neither confirm or deny a Chinese Camcopter deal. He would only say that it is company policy not to comment on individual sales.

The Chinese version of the company's Camcopter brochure shows the S-100 operating from the fantail of a warship. The S-100 has also been successfully flown from warships operated by European navies.

The UAV in the JMSDF photographs closely resembles the Camcopter. The landing struts appear to be slightly forward of the mid-fuselage sensor turret. The layout of the vertical stabiliser structure relative to the tail boom is also similar. Another photo appears to show a Camcopter sitting on the frigate's fantail.

Moreover, the UAV's layout does not resemble other helicopter UAVs known to exist in China, such as the YOTAIS X200, AVIC U8E, or the Sunward Tech Star-lite SVU200.

This the second time Japan's military has produced photos of helicopter UAVs near Chinese warships. In June 2011, it released grainy photos of a UAV (also resembling the S-100) flying near a Chinese warship, although it was not readily apparent that the aircraft was deployed from the ship.

It is unclear whether the Chinese navy routinely deploys unmanned helicopters from its warships, or is simply testing procedures and tactics for such systems.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

China launches a new missile corvette (type 056)

This corvette is more like a frigate, with similar tonnage as the old Jianghu class FFG, certainlly much better armed than the type 053 Jianghu.

A new type of Chinese missile corvette, the principal role for which might be to project power in the South China Sea, could be launched “within days,” military watchers said on the weekend.

Talk of a Type 056 class first emerged in late 2010. So far, little technical information has been released about the corvettes, which are believed to lie in the 1,400-to-1,700-tonne category.

Two shipyards, Hudong Shipyard in Shanghai and Huangpu Shipyard in Guangzhou, are engaged in what appears to be a race to complete the vessels.

Officials at Hudong reportedly announced late last week that the first Type 056 corvette could be launched “within days,” with possible commissioning at the end of this year.

A total of four hulls are known to be under construction, with completion expected to follow soon after the delivery of the lead ship.

Designs of the Type 056 show fin stabilization for high seas navigation with weapons including a 76mm main gun, four surface-to-surface missile (SSM) launchers — reportedly for the YJ-83 SSM, the latest Chinese design — and one FL-1000 surface-to-air missile launcher.

The corvette could also come equipped with torpedoes for limited anti-submarine capability.

It also has a helipad large enough to accommodate vertical takeoff and landing for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Analysts believe the Type 056 could replace or augment the six Type 037 Houjian 528 fast-attack craft that have been based in Hong Kong since 1997, with future production for other People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleets, where they could replace aging attack craft and frigates. The corvette could also be intended for export markets, with reports that the Bangladeshi navy has already expressed interest in its acquisition.

The new corvettes will fill a gap between smaller offshore patrol vessels and larger frigates and could be ideal for action in the South China Sea, where China is embroiled in disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines.

Analysts believe medium-sized ships like the Type 056 are better suited to combat light missile frigates with similar displacement already deployed by competitors in the volatile, mineral-rich body of water.

Beyond China’s disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea, the new corvettes could also play a role in a conflict with Taiwan.

“The Type 056 looks like a rough match for the Taiwan Navy’s Lafayette frigates on a one-to-one basis,” James Holmes of the US Naval War College told the Taipei Times by e-mail last night. “Operated in ‘distributed’ fashion — multiple units networked to act in concert, combining their sensors and armaments — it would pose a serious challenge to Taiwan’s surface fleet in high-intensity combat.”

However, warships like the Type 056 are intended more to serve in a flotilla than to take part in major naval actions, Holmes said.

"Their armament is modest, but they outgun most competitors they’re likely to encounter in the South China Sea. They’re less useful in the Yellow and East China seas, where the competition is stiffer since the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the US Seventh Fleet are there,” he said.

In related developments, reports said on the weekend that the FFG 572 Yueyang — the 14th Type 054A destroyer in the PLAN — is scheduled to be commissioned with the 9th Destroyer Squadron in the South Sea Fleet sometime next year.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Egypt produces ASN-209 UAV in Cooperation With China

Chairman of the Arab Organization for Industrialization, Hamdy Weheba said that Egypt has started the second phase to produce 12 Egyptian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) “ASN-209″ in cooperation with a Chinese company. He added that the local manufacturing in this plane reaches nearly 99.5 percent.

Weheba noted that the first phase has produced 6 aircrafts of this type. He stressed that the organization, in cooperation with the Chinese company, succeeded in the manufacture of 120 advanced training aircraft of the type “K-8″.

Details of the platform from the ASN site.

ASN-209 UAV System is a multi-purpose UAV product with mature technology. Via data link and ground control subsystem, ASN-209 UAV can perform aerial reconnaissance, battle field survey, target location, destroy validation and artillery fire adjustment in day and night in real time. ASN-209 UAV System is consists of aircraft, airborne mission payload, GCS, launch and recovery equipment.

ASN-209 uses digital flight control and navigation system, its flight control mode has manual, program and emergency control.It wasGPS and data link to locate the aircraft. The system operation is easy to master.

ASN-209 uses rocket booster launch, parachute recovery, no need to use the airport makes the system operation flexible. GCS adopts digital computer control technology, which enables multitask planning and real-time editing during flight.

ASN-209 uses 2-boom, rear installed engine disposition. Excellent overall aerodynamic design and EMC design enable the system to install many different kinds of airborne equipment, such as electronic countermeasures, communication relay and weather detection.

The coverage radius is 200 km, endurance over 10 hours. ASN-209 UAV System can supervise big area and frontier within one sortie. If 2 UAVs take duty by turns, ASN-209 UAV System can work for 24 hours continuously.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

China Now Tops U.S. in Space Launches in 2011

For the first time ever, China has launched more rockets into orbit in a year than the U.S. In 2011, the Chinese sent 19 rockets into space. The U.S. sent just 18. Russia, the Walmart of space launches, fired off no fewer than 31 rockets (a lot of US launches were probably outsource to Russia. How many launches did ESA made in 2011 ?).

The numbers, parsed in recent reports from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the nonprofit Space Foundation, might seem to herald America’s orbital decline relative to its most bitter rival. In terms of sheer numbers of rocket launches, China has been steadily catching up to America for several years. In 2010, China fired off 15 rockets, matching the U.S. for the first time.

But the raw figures obscure the real trends. Beijing is not about to catch up to Washington in space. For starters, the U.S. government spends more money than any other country on space launches and spacecraft: nearly $50 billion, compared to just $25 billion or so for all other governments combined. With its huge financial advantage and technological edge, Washington is projected to possess the biggest space arsenal for decades to come.

American launch organizations, which include NASA, the military and several private companies, had a perfect success rate last year. China lost one experimental satellite when a Long March rocket veered off course in August. Russia had the worst record, with four failed launches.

U.S. rockets on average carried more satellites per launch than their Chinese counterparts. It’s not unheard of for a single rocket to deliver several satellites into orbit on a single boost. Last year, the 18 U.S.-launched rockets placed 28 satellites into orbit. Nineteen Chinese launches placed just 21 sats. Russia’s 31 launches delivered 53 spacecraft.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some recent news on China-Thailand military cooperation

Thailand and China have agreed to jointly develop multiple rocket launchers with a guidance system as part of a move to strengthen military ties. (MRLS is a medium tech weapon, doesn't China already posses such system ? Why spending more money on it ?)

The two sides reached the agreement during a visit to China by the Thai military top brass in what was described by Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat as a call by "the whole family" to China which is "our close relative".

It is the first time in 15 years that a defence minister has led all key military leaders ranging from the defence permanent secretary, supreme commander and armed forces chiefs to meet Chinese senior military officers, led by National Defence Minister Gen Liang Guanglie.

Under the new agreement, the Thai Defence Technology Institute will work with China to develop new multiple rocket launchers called "DTI-1G [Guided]" which will be more accurate and have a greater range than existing systems, said ACM Sukumpol after the meeting.

Multiple rocket launchers are known for their devastating capabilities and ability to deliver a large amount of ordinance simultaneously, but are not recognised for precision because they are not usually equipped with a guidance system.

In an earlier joint deal, Thailand and China developed the DTI-1 system, which had a range of between 60 and 180km, but it lacked accuracy. (If the CEP is within 1% of the range, the accuracy is good)

The new DTI-1G project will last three years and will be funded under a 1.5-billion-baht budget, ACM Sukumpol said.

Gen Liang also told the delegation that if Thailand wants to buy weapons from China, it will be willing to sell them at "friendly prices", ACM Sukumpol quoted Gen Liang as saying."The price of Chinese weaponry has increased greatly recently. Arms are not as cheap as before so we will have to consider this carefully," ACM Sukumpol said.

As well as technological cooperation, the Thai and Chinese defence ministries have also agreed to hold a joint military exercise involving their air forces for the first time.

"We will need to discuss more details of this because Thailand and China have different military doctrines in the aviation area," ACM Sukumpol said.

So far the two countries have held joint military drills involving the army's special warfare units and the navy's marine corps.

In another demonstration of closer military ties, 130 officers from the Royal Thai Navy Corps will participate in a joint exercise to be held in Guangdong in southern China between May 9 and 29.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Zambian Air Force buys more K-8 trainers from China

K-8 Karakorum has been an export success for Chinese arm industry.

The Zambian Air Force has officially taken delivery of another eight K-8P jet trainers from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), bringing the number in service to 15.

The aircraft were delivered to Mumbwa air base in Zambia on March 21 and officially accepted during a ceremony there last Thursday, according to Zambian media. Zambian Air Force (ZAF) commander Lieutenant General Eric Chimese said that the jets will enhance the military wing’s ability to patrol the country and safeguard its airspace.

“Increased mining and economic activities have put pressure on us to monitor who is flying in and out of the country,” he said. “In order for us to remain relevant as an air force, the significance of keeping our aircraft in a state of readiness cannot be overemphasized. As professionals, it is our duty to ensure that aircraft is maintained and ready for use whenever required.”

Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba said during handover that the government was committed to ensuring that peace continued to prevail in Zambia, the Times of Zambia reports. “In accepting the new aircraft, I wish to pledge my government’s commitment to keep the machines in optimum condition by regularly providing resources for spares. This is in an effort to improve standards in the defence forces in order to make them viable and sustainable. I urge you to make maximum use of the equipment and take care of it,” Mwamba said.

“For the lifespan of the aircraft to be guarantee, spares for maintenance need to be provided as and when required. We call upon CATIC to render due and timely support in this regard,” he added.

CATIC vice-president Liu Jianhai said his company had provided Zambia with different aircraft and other services since 1979 and was happy that the good relations between Zambia and China had continued.

In 1999 Zambia received eight K-8s in kit form. “Last year in November, we witnessed the handover of a fleet of upgraded old K-8P aircraft by CATIC. This is in addition to other machines that the government is currently in the process of sourcing from CATIC, such as helicopters,” Mwamba said. “All this underscores the wonderful relations we share.”

According to the Jane’s information group, Zambia’s air force is hampered by a lack of spares and a shortage of flying hours. Although it has sufficient capacity to transport troops and cargo, its combat capability is very limited. Transport capacity was boosted by the delivery of five Y-12 and two MA60 aircraft from China in 2006.

Indeed, China has a close relationship with Zambia, especially after signing a military cooperation protocol in 1998 regarding training of the Zambian Army. The Chinese and Zambian defence ministers met in Beijing in July 2005, agreeing to continue military co-operation.

“It must be borne in mind however that aviation equipment is by nature costly and given our delicate economic situation, re-equipping ZAF to stay abreast with technological advancements in the aviation industry will not be done overnight,” said Chimese.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Argentina gets Chinese license for production of Z-11 light helicopter

A good deal of arm export for China.

Officials from Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) say they hope to fly their first locally assembled Z-11 light helicopter at the end of this year.

The plans follow a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Chinese helicopter company Avicopter and its parent CATIC in October 2011 to assemble the Z-11 light helicopter for both the Argentine and the Latin American market.

Emilio Maligno, business development manager for FAdeA told Shephard that studies had shown a need for a helicopter of Z-11 size in the region for a range of roles in the military and civil markets.

'In Argentina, the government wants to standardise the helicopters which serve the various services such as the gendarmerie, the army and the air force,' said Maligno.

'Helicopters are in high demand in this part of the world. Just take big events like the Dakar rally, helicopters are used in the filming, for moving people and equipment.'

The first Argentine-produced aircraft would be a prototype and demonstrator assembled with Chinese components, but later aircraft would be likely to feature a greater level of Argentine content as locally produced components and equipment come on stream.

'We have some experience in design and customisation, our aim is to produce a helicopter more suited to our Argentine and South American customers.'

Maligno says he hopes to be able to offer customers a choice of three engines, one from China, one from Honeywell, the LTS101 and Turbomeca's Arriel engine. He also hopes to be able to offer new avionics fits to meet customer requirements.

FAdeA says the experience from the assembly and work on the Z-11 could also pave the way for a wholly-indigenous helicopter programme, but there were no plans for the assembly of other Chinese helicopter types.

For the Argentina armed forces, local production would mean that they could have a reliable source of parts and support for the aircraft. Currently each of the armed services operates helicopter types from many different OEMs including Bell, Eurocopter and Russian Helicopters.

The Argentine Army evaluated the Z-11 when it was searching for a new light helicopter back in 2006, but the results of the evaluation are not clear.

The signature of the MoU has caused some consternation at Eurocopter as the Z-11s introduction into the South American may have broken a previously undisclosed agreement made between Eurocopter and Avicopter in early 2011 about the sale of licence-built Eurocopter helicopters by Avicopter outside China.

The Z-11 is not a licence-built Eurocopter aircraft but is virtually identical to the AS350 Ecureuil and Eurocopter is understood to be concerned about protection from liabilities because the designs are so similar.

'The two aircraft look very similar,' said Maligno.

'For us this is not about producing a cheaper aircraft, but a different product that is more customised for the Latin American and Argentine market.'

Currently FAdeA working on several fixed-wing aircraft programmes including the IA-63 Pampa jet trainer and the PA-25 Puelche light aircraft.

Meanwhile, it is understood that Bolivia has ordered six Avicopter H425 helicopters. The H425, also known as the Z-9 in China, is a licence-built version of the Eurocopter Dauphin. The six aircraft will be first helicopters to fly with the Bolivian Army and first Chinese military helicopters to be delivered to a South American customer.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

China sells used Type 053 frigates to Burma and Bangladesh

Even though they are obsolete, they can still be useful for coastal patrols.

China has recently sold used frigates to Myanmar and Bangladesh, two nations that have had naval disputes with each other in the past. Burma got two Type 53H1 frigates, built in the 1980s. The Burmese Type 53s are 2,000 ton ships armed with four anti-ship missiles, two 100mm guns, and lots of depth charges. Bangladesh is getting two Type 53H2, which were built in the early 1990s and are generally the same as the 53H1s but carry eight anti-ship missiles. Both nations paid very little for their Type 53s (probably free), but compared to what these two fleets already had, the used frigates were a step up.

China built 53 Type 53 frigates (that's a lot). Based on the older Soviet Riga class frigates, the Chinese expanded the original 1,400 ton design (armed with depth charges, three 100mm guns, and torpedoes) to a missile laden 2,000-2,500 ton vessel equipped with modern electronics. The latest version, called the F-22, is built only for export. The primary customer is Pakistan (four sold so far). The remaining Type 53s are mainly used for coastal patrol.

The F-22P is the newest version of the Chinese Jiangwei II (053H3). The 123 meter long F-22P displaces 2,500 tons and carries an eight cell short range (8.6 kilometers) FM-90N surface-to-air missile system. There are two, four cell anti-ship missile systems (180 kilometers range C-802s), two, three cell launchers for rocket launched ET-52C anti-submarine torpedoes, and two, six cell RDC-32 anti-submarine rocket launchers. There is also a 76.2mm gun, two 30mm anti-missiles auto-cannon, and a helicopter. Each ship has a crew of 202 and a top speed of 52 kilometers an hour. The F-22Ps are inexpensive, costing about $200 million each.

Monday, March 12, 2012

China's defense budget surpasses $100 billion mark for 2012

Even with the double digit growth rate, China's defense budget is still just a fraction of USA's defense budget.

China’s defense budget for 2012 will be increased by more than 11%, taking it above the 100 billion US dollar mark for the first time.
While Beijing has repeatedly maintained that its military strength will never go beyond national security demands, its expanding military prowess is likely to trigger unease in the region. With an aircraft carrier and stealth fighter aircraft being developed, the increase in budget for the armed forces is unlikely to dispel fears among the country’s neighbours.

Compared to India, China’s defence budget is nearly three times; last year, India had earmarked more than 36 billion US dollars. The US spends the most on defence and it’s said to be around 740 billion dollars. India’s budget on defence is the 10th largest; China’s is the second after the US.

Jane's Defence and Security Intelligence and Analysis in a recent report predicted that China’s defence budget will cross the 238 billion mark by 2015. Reacting to the report, the defence ministry had denied the calculation.

On Sunday, it was announced China will spend 670.274 billion Yuan on defence this year. The draft defence budget is 67.6 billion Yuan more than the defence expenditure of 2011.

Li Zhaoxing, spokesperson for the annual session of the country’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, which begins its session on Monday, said; “The Chinese government follows the principle of coordinating defense development with economic development. It sets the country's defense spending according to the requirements of national defense and the level of economic development.”

Li told reporters the growth of China's defense expenditure is "reasonable and appropriate."

"The Chinese government has maintained reasonable and appropriate growth in defense spending on the strength of rapid economic and social development and the steady increase of fiscal revenues," he said.

According to Li, during the last three years since the outbreak of the international financial crisis, China's gross domestic product (GDP) and national fiscal expenditure showed year-on-year growth of 14.5% and 20.3%, respectively, but the country's defence expenditure only grew by 13%.

He also noted that the share of defense spending in China's GDP dropped from 1.33% in 2008 to 1.28% in 2011.

Compared to other major countries, China's military spending is low given its population of 1.3 billion, vast land area and long coastlines, Li said.

While China's military spending amounted to 1.28 % of its GDP in 2011, that of the United States, Britain, India and other countries all exceed 2 %, said Li.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

China sends 11th flotilla to patrol in Gulf of Aden

Chinese navy is gaining valuable experience operating far from home port.

A Chinese Navy relief task force has left for the Gulf of Aden to escort ships off Somalia’s pirate-infested waters.

The eleventh rotation of its standing anti-piracy patrol left a port in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Tuesday.

The task force comprises the Type 052 destroyer Qingdao and the Type 054A frigate Yantai, as well as the supply ship Weishanhu. The ships carry 800 naval personnel, including Special Forces and two helicopters.

China sent its first convoy fleet to the Gulf of Aden in December 2008. To date, Chinese navy fleets have escorted 4 500 ships from countries all over the world and rescued 50 ships attacked by pirates.

Late last month the People's Liberation Army Navy held the International Symposium on Counter-Piracy and Escort Operations in China's eastern city of Nanjing. Delegations from more than 20 states and organizations came together to discuss anti-piracy efforts in Somalia, such as the sharing of naval intelligence, hostage rescue operations, legal issues, logistics and cooperation.

Piracy is a big problem in the Gulf of Aden as Somali pirates prey on ships sailing in the waters off the lawless horn of Africa country, raking in millions of dollars in ransoms and driving up shipping costs. Maritime piracy costs the global economy US$12 billion a year according to researchers.

As of February 29, pirates have hijacked 6 vessels out of 62 attempts this year. Somali pirates have been responsible for four of those successful hijackings and are currently holding 12 vessels and 177 hostages, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

China making gains in international UAV Market

Chinese aerospace industry’s advance on the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) sector appears to be gaining momentum. On Dec. 31, 2011, Chinese publication Jinyang Yangcheng Evening News reported that the South China University of Technology has developed its “first unmanned maritime surveillance helicopter” under contract from Guangdong Province and China’s Marine Surveillance Corps. The report claimed that the rotorcraft is already operational and can take off and land vertically using both land and seaborne platforms and perform coast patrol and sea observation missions. The UAV reportedly has a maximum level speed of 49 knots, but normally cruises at 27 knots.

Although the Chinese industry has long been experimenting with unmanned helicopters, it does not seem to have won any orders from local customers until very recently. Evidently, the companies concerned had been starting to wonder whether there really was a viable business model for these programs.

Dozens of new UAV designs were exhibited at Airshow China 2010 in Zhuhai and then at Aviation Expo 2011 in Beijing in September 2011. The Beijing show featured no fewer than six unmanned helicopters–some were mockups but some were fully operational examples. The exhibitors also published details of many other UAV programs that they have in the works.

Obviously, commissioning of the maritime surveillance unmanned helicopter marks a next step in Chinese UAV development and is the result of about 10 years of concerted research-and-development work.

A decade earlier at the Aviation Expo in Beijing, the Chinese industry had displayed a rotary-powered UAV designed for crop-spraying, designated the CHU. It looked similar to the design now developed for Guangdong and seems to have been inspired by Japan’s Yamaha RMAX model. Since 1983, more than 1,600 examples of this type have been built for agricultural applications, notably spraying of chemicals. The Yamaha can lift a 66-pound payload and loiter for 90 minutes within a six-mile radius, with its performance being similar to those given for its Chinese clones.

The CHU was developed by Avic’s China Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI). In September 2011 the CHRDI exhibited a newer design that resembled another Aviation Expo 2011 exhibit, the Z-5 from the 60th Research Institute of Central Staff Dept. of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Its streamlined design features a classic helicopter layout with a main rotor and an anti-torque propeller on the tail.

The aircraft, weighing 992 pounds, can develop climb rates up to 135 to 164 feet per second, has a 11,483-foot ceiling, a range of up to 54 nautical miles and loitering capability of three to six hours. It can carry payload of 130 to 220 pounds.

Photos and videos available at the Beijing event showed the Z-5-lookalike UAV flying. Images on the stand of the PLA’s Institute showed half-a-dozen UAVs that the establishment is working on, including the Z-3 and the W-60 UH, as well as the W-50, S-200 and the S-300 “airplane-like” vehicles. At the same time, it is also developing a family of “CYS” series compact engines.

Meanwhile, also working in the same field is the Third Academy of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp. (COSIC). As with the CHRDI, some of its designs look similar to those on the PLA’s Institute stand, albeit carrying different designations. For instance, the S300 looks like the WJ-600. Among other things, COSIC is developing its CTJ series of engines for both UAVs and cruise missiles.

In addition to the three core government-backed groups, a number of private and mixed-capital enterprises also are trying their luck in the UAV market. From its base in Hunan, Sunward Technology Co. Ltd. is working on the SVU200 compact helicopter, dubbed the Flying Tiger. It features classic layout with a main rotor and tail rotor, and looks like a scale model of Russia’s first mass-produced helicopter, the Mi-1, from the 1950s.

Another newcomer displayed in Beijing last September was the M28 from This is an unmanned helicopter with a coaxial rotor system, resembling Kamov’s experimental Ka-37 helicopter.

Another exhibitor, BVE, demonstrated the BL-60 UAV, dubbed the [U]FCopter. This appears to be another derivative of both the RMAX and CHU aircraft. A similar design was exhibited at Airshow China 2010 in the form of SIA’s ServoHeli-120. This vehicle is classed as an autonomous rotorcraft UAV and is pitched at applications including surveillance, detailed reconnaissance, experimental platform and load dropping.

The ServoHeli-102 has a maximum takeoff weight of 265 pounds including an 88-pound payload. It can achieve a maximum level speed of 65 knots and cruise at 51 knots for around 90 minutes.

For the time being at least, China’s unmanned helicopters appear to be of a significantly lower quality than Western models such as the RQ-16 T-Hawk micro air vehicle developed by Honeywell and DARPA in the U.S. However, there is no doubting the competitive spirit of companies in this field.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

China unveils highest resolution global moon map

More contribution from China to world scientific community.

China Publishes High Resolution Full Moon map from Chang'e-2 Lunar Orbiter Chinese scientists assembled a global Moon map using images captured by the Chang’e-2 spacecraft with an unprecedented resolution of 7-meters.

Chinese scientists have assembled the highest resolution map ever created of the entire Moon and unveiled a series of global Moon images on Monday, Feb. 6.

The composite Lunar maps were created from over 700 individual images captured by China’s Chang’e-2 spacecraft and released by the country’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND), according to reports from the state run Xinhua and CCTV new agencies.

“The map and images are the highest-resolution photos of the entirety of the Moon’s surface to be published thus far,” said Liu Dongkui, deputy chief commander of China’s lunar probe project, reports Xinhua.

Of course there are much higher resolution photos of numerous individual locations on the Moon taken from orbit by the spacecraft of other countries and from the surface by NASA’s Apollo lunar landing astronauts as well as unmanned Russian & American lunar landers and rovers.

Chang’e-2 is China’s second lunar probe and achieved orbit around our nearest neighbor in space in October 2010. It was launched on Oct. 1, 2010 and is named after a legendary Chinese moon goddess.

The images were snapped between October 2010 and May 2011 using a charge-coupled device (CCD) stereo camera as the spacecraft flew overhead in a highly elliptical orbit ranging from 15 km to 100 km altitude.

In fact the maps are detailed enough that Chinese scientists were able to detect traces of the Apollo landers, said Yan Jun, chief application scientist for China’s lunar exploration project.

Chang’e-2 also captured high resolution photos of the “Sinus Iridum”area , or Bay of Rainbows, where China may land their next Moon mission. The camera had the ability to resolve features as small as 1 meter across at the lowest altitude.

The satellite left lunar orbit in June 2011 and is currently orbiting the moon’s second Lagrange Point (L2), located more than 1.5 million km away from Earth.

Chinese space program officials hope for a 2013 liftoff of the Chang’e-3 lunar rover, on what would be China’s first ever landing on another celestial body. China’s next step beyond the rover may be to attempt a lunar sample return mission in 2017.

Demonstrating the ability to successfully conduct an unmanned lunar landing is a key milestone that must be achieved before China can land astronauts on the Moon, perhaps within the next decade.

NASA’s twin GRAIL spacecraft recently achieved Lunar orbit over the New Year’s weekend. The duo of probes were just renamed as “Ebb and Flow” – the winning entries in an essay naming contest submitted by 4th Grade US students from Bozeman, Montana.

At this time NASA does not have the funding or an approved robotic lunar landing mission, due to severe budget cuts.And even worse NASA cuts will be announced shortly!

Russia hopes to send the Lunar Glob spacecraft to land on the Moon around 2015.

Since the United States has unilaterally scuttled its plans to return American astronauts to the Moon’s surface, it’s very possible that the next flag planted on the Moon by humans will be Chinese.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

China's AC313 helicopter gets certification

Asia’s largest helicopter for civilian use get certification

It weights 13 tons with three powerful turboshaft engines.

China’s largest-ever helicopter for civilian use was certified on Thursday by the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the country’s civil aviation authority. The move means that the 13-tonne AC313, Asia’s largest helicopter, is officially approved to enter the market, according to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), which developed and manufactured the helicopter. The design of the aircraft focuses on efficiency and reliability, and meets international safety standards, the AVIC said. After four years of research, the AC313 is also the world’s first civilian helicopter to receive an “A-category” airworthiness certificate at an altitude of 4,500 meters, the AVIC said.

The aircraft could be deployed for emergency rescue operations, forest fire prevention, transport, offshore operations, medical aid, sightseeing and business trips, the AVIC said.
About 25 percent of China’s territory is located 3,000 meters or more above sea level, requiring emergency rescue authorities to use helicopters in more remote areas, said Yu Feng, board chairman and general manager of AVIC Changhe Aircraft Industries Group Co., Ltd.
“Natural disasters in the plateaus of west China require immediate rescue but restrict the construction of roads and airports, which demands the appearance of large civil helicopters,” Yu told Xinhua, adding that the AC313 project was launched after 2008’s fatal earthquake in southwest China’s Sichuan province.
The AC313 completed two trial flights to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in 2010 and 2011, respectively, and set a record by soaring to an altitude of 8,500 meters, making it the first domestic aircraft to be able to fly in the highlands, the AVIC added.
The state-owned aircraft manufacturer produces civil helicopters weighing from one to 13 tonnes. Its one-tonne AC310 helicopter, the country’s first ultra-light civil helicopter, made its debut at the first China Helicopter Exposition held last September, according to the AVIC.
The AC313 has navigational tools based around a comprehensive avionics system designed for use when telecommunications are absent in plateau areas, said Xu Zhaoliang, chief designer of the AC313.
The aircraft features fuel systems, fire-extinguishing technology and tail boom composite materials never before used in China’s civil helicopter industry, Xu said.
Experts said China’s civil helicopter industry has developed quickly but is still lagging behind in many technological areas, including the development of new engines, rotor systems and transmission systems.
Helicopters from France, Russia, the United States and Italy account for a large share of China’s helicopter market. The France-based Eurocopter Group took 40 percent of China’s civil helicopter market share after it exported more than 160 helicopters to China. The Anglo-Italian helicopter company AgustaWestland claimed 90 percent of China’s police and public security market when it got an order for 30 helicopters this August.
Industry insiders said the sector will develop more rapidly as the government attaches more importance to the improvement of public services, as this will require more helicopters for public security, forest fire prevention and medical aid.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

China deploys new tanks on Tibetan Plateau

I believe these are Type 96 tanks, which is a third
generation tank in service in PLA.
It features a 125 mm smoothbore gun, with a 1000 hp diesel engine.
An estimated 1,500 Type 96 tanks are currently in service with the PLA.
China is slowly building up the infrastructures on Tibet to allow more rapid deployment of troops. We shall see more military maneuvers in Tibet.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bolivian Army Buys 6 Chinese Helicopters

H425 is a newer version of Z-9 helicopter

LA PAZ - Bolivia signed a deal Dec. 22 to buy six Chinese H425 helicopters for its army, at a ceremony attended by Bolivian ministers and Beijing's ambassador, local media reported.

Foreign minister Carlos Romero and planning minister Viviana Caro signed the accord with China's diplomatic representative in La Paz, Shen Zhiliang, in the presence of army chiefs.

"We believe these helicopters are crucial for the diverse needs of our military," said army chief Antonio Cueto.

The 12-seater aircraft will be delivered in 2012 and will also be used for civil defense, officials said.

Bolivia ordered six K-8 fighter aircraft from China in January to help its fight against drug traffickers as part of cooperation accord between the two countries.