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.