Tuesday, November 19, 2013

China's SLBM JL-2 is near initial operational capability

This would put China in the league of other major nuclear power (US, Russia, UK and France), the only nations with SLBM capability.

For the first time in the country’s history, China’s sea-based nuclear deterrence nears initial operational capability (IOC), according to a forthcoming report by a US congressional commission on China.

China’s JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile could reach IOC later this year, according to an early draft of the report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

With a range of 4,000 nautical miles, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will have its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent against the US mainland, mated with the Type 094 Jin-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). China has deployed three Jin-class SSBN and “probably will field two additional units by 2020.”

The report also states that China is pursuing two new classes of nuclear submarines — the Type 095 guided-missile attack submarine (SSGN) and the Type 096 SSBN. The Type 096 will likely “improve the range, mobility, stealth, and lethality” of the PLAN’s nuclear deterrent.

Though China does not have the ability to strike land targets with sea-based cruise missiles, the report states China’s navy is developing a land-attack cruise missile capability, most likely with the Type-095 SSGN and Luyang-III (Type 052D) guided-missile destroyer. This will enhance China’s “flexibility for attacking land targets throughout the Western Pacific, including US facilities in Guam.”

In June, according to the report, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force accepted 15 new H-6K bomber aircraft. An improved variant of the H-6, the K variant (with new Russian Engines) has extended range and can carry China’s new long-range, land-attack cruise missile (LACM). “The bomber/LACM weapon system provides the PLA Air Force with the ability to conduct conventional strikes against regional targets throughout the Western Pacific,” including Guam.

The report states China is working on extending the range of the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. With its current range of 810 nautical miles, it can already threaten US naval vessels throughout the Western Pacific. At 1,600 nautical miles from China, Guam falls outside the DF-21D’s range.

Other developments cited in the report include progress on China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which conducted its first successful carrier-based takeoff and landing with the J-15 Flying Shark fighter jet in November 2012, certified its first group of aircraft carrier pilots and landing signal officers during the ship’s first operational deployment in June, and verified its flight-deck operations process in September.

“The PLAN will continue to conduct short deployments and shipboard aviation training until 2015 to 2016, when China’s first J-15 regiment is expected to become operational,” the report states.

The document discusses other impressive surface ship developments. In 2012, China launched two new classes: the Luyang-III guided-missile destroyer and the Jiangdao (Type 056) corvette. Construction resumed for the Luyang-II (Type 052C) guided-missile destroyer and serial production continues for the Jiangkai-II (Type 054A) guided-missile frigate. “Most of these units will likely be operational by 2015,” according to the report.

Quoting Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, both renowned PLA experts, the report states that “by 2015, China will likely be second globally in numbers of large warships built and commissioned since the Cold War’s end ... by 2020, barring a US naval renaissance, it is possible that China will become the world’s leading military shipbuilder in terms of numbers of submarines, surface combatants and other naval surface vessels produced per year.”

One of the many disturbing conclusions in the report is the suggestion that China’s military modernization is “on track to alter the security balance in Asia over the next five to 10 years, challenging decades of US military preeminence.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

China Completed the Development fourth-generation nuclear submarine

This will be the type 097 class SSN, the follow up to the type 095 class SSN (3rd generation), type 093 SSN (2nd generation), and type 091 SSN (1st generation).

The major improvement should be in noise reduction of the boat.

At the recent 2013 Four Northeastern Provinces Cooperation Leaders' Conference held in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, Tan Zuojun, vice governor of Liaoning Province and former general manager of China State Shipbuilding Corporation, revealed that development of China's fourth-generation nuclear submarines and other high-tech weapons and items of equipment in the Northeastern Provinces of China had been completed. The news drew considerable attention.

The fourth generation nuclear submarine features high performance and low noise level.

Military expert Du Wenlong pointed out that the main characteristic of the fourth generation nuclear submarine would be its high performance. Compared with earlier submarines, modern attack submarines differ significantly in offensive power, possessing both anti-submarine capabilities and also strong potential for anti-ship action and attacks on land-based targets. He pointed out that the fourth generation nuclear submarines of the United States and Russia already have these capabilities; China's fourth-generation nuclear submarines too will be equipped with the appropriate torpedoes, along with missiles suitable for use against other sea-going or land-based targets. In addition, the Chinese submarine will have low noise output, a key indicator for measuring a modern nuclear submarine's underwater survivability, as well as its ability to remain hidden during maneuvers, or undetected while launching a missile attack. He pointed out that the fourth-generation nuclear submarine will possess effective noise damping features, such as a quieter nuclear power reactor with less vibration, and a more advanced hull muffler system, so that it will be difficult to detect even if within range of enemy sonar.

On the question when the fourth-generation nuclear submarine will enter service, Du Wenlong said that completion of development and completion of construction are two different phases - the cycle from completion of development to manufacturing, and then to fitting out and launch, can be long, perhaps several years. Progress is mainly determined by two factors: one is technical indicators, and the other is strategic need. (not sure if China has the urgency to build next SSN).

A significant enhancement of nuclear counterattack capability (this is more SSBN).

Analysts believe that continual development of attack submarines and strategic nuclear submarines at times of peace, adding better performance and greater combat ability, can enhance strategic deterrence capability. China's strategic nuclear forces are weapons to deter third parties from becoming involved in local conflicts. China firmly adheres to the principle of non-first use of nuclear weapons, but the existence of strategic nuclear submarines will give China a stronger voice and more room for maneuver in the case of any crisis. In addition, Song Xiaojun points out that the United States, Russia, Britain and France all possess modern strategic nuclear submarines as a symbol of their status as 'Great Powers'; it is natural that China should be unwilling to lag behind.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

China expands Beidou system for ASEAN market

Beidou system eventually will provide coverage for the whole world.

China wants more companies from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to participate in the research and development of applications for the country's indigenous Beidou Navigation Satellite System, a move that could not only improve information infrastructure in the populous region but also increase the system's international competitiveness, experts said at an industry forum held Thursday.

"Beidou is relatively new compared to the Global Positioning System (GPS), so we want to take the opportunity of the China-ASEAN EXPO to promote the system to ASEAN members," Ran Chengqi, director of China Satellite Navigation Office, told reporters at an international cooperation forum held in Nanning, capital of South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Currently there are four global satellite navigation systems - the US-developed GPS, also the most widely used navigation system, China's Beidou, the EU's Galileo and Russia's Glonass.

Ran said the Beidou system has technology advantages in ASEAN, as most ASEAN countries are geographically close to the equator.

Some domestic companies have already penetrated the ASEAN market.

"We launched some automotive navigation devices in Thailand last year, and plan to expand the business to Indonesia and Malaysia," Gu Zhengxi, deputy general manager of Beijing-based CenNavi Technologies Co, said at the forum.

The Beidou system also has opportunities in ASEAN's public services fields such as weather forecasting, disaster relief and public security, as many ASEAN countries are vulnerable to natural disasters, experts said at the forum.

"We are still testing the signal of the Beidou system, and the quality is good," Chinorost Booncherm, a director with a space technology agency under Thailand's Ministry of Science and Technology, told reporters at the forum Thursday.

Booncherm said they will hold an industry meeting by the end of this year and invite Chinese experts to promote the Beidou system to private companies in Thailand.

Two scientific research institutions in Wuhan signed a deal in March with Thailand's Ministry of Science and Technology, agreeing to build a disaster forecast system.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Academy of Sciences signed a demonstration project with Laos to use the Beidou satellite system for forestation and farming.

Ran noted that Beidou's satellite navigation services will have worldwide coverage by 2020, but experts played down the potential threat of Beidou to its foreign counterparts.

"The relationship of the four global satellite systems is more like co-existence, as the integration of multi-navigation systems is a trend, which could offer users more accurate positioning services," Song Weilin, an engineer at China Satellite Navigation Office, told the Global Times Thursday.

"The major problem is how to reduce costs for multi-navigation systems," she noted.

Promoting the Beidou system in ASEAN is also in accordance with China's efforts to strengthen bilateral cooperation in areas of transportation and telecommunications, according to Li Yao, chairman of China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund.

"However, industries related to the Beidou system are still in the infancy stage, and mass commercialization of such industries will take a long time," Li told the Global Times on Thursday.

"We've drafted a development plan for industries related to the Beidou system with the National Development and Reform Commission, which are expected to be released soon and will help boost the development of related industries," Song said.

According to Ran's previous estimates, Beidou will account for 70-80 percent of China's satellite navigation service market by 2020, which means it will have a market value of 350-400 billion yuan ($57-65 billion) by then.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

China deploys a new type of light tank in Tibet

This may be the Type 99A2 light tank, a modification of the Type 99 MBT.
It is equipped with a 105 mm smooth bore tank gun, estimated to weigh less than 50 tons.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

China's home made ARJ-21 jet set for delivery by 2014

China's home-made regional jet ARJ-21 will be delivered by the end of 2014, a senior official said at the 2013 Paris Air Show.

With 252 orders, the 90-seat jet will receive all the required certificates by the end of next year when the first plane will be delivered to Chengdu Airlines, Tian Ming, the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China's chief accountant, said yesterday.

Tian said the jet has completed 1,700 safe takeoffs and landings as well as more than 3,000 hours of flying.

China's first home-made C919 jumbo jet, which has won 380 orders from domestic and overseas carriers, will make its first flight in 2014, he added.

The Comac ARJ21 Xiangfeng (翔凤) is a twin-engined regional airliner. The design incorporates components from 19 major European and US aerospace suppliers, including General Electric (engine production), Honeywell (fly-by-wire system) and Rockwell Collins (avionics production).

Saturday, May 4, 2013

China's first training base for carrier-born aircraft

Chinese naval officials working at a land-based training facility for carrier-capable jets have taken some time to explain how their training works.

Pilots at the testing facility are practicing on China's home-developed J-15 fighter jets.

The jets have been designed specifically to take off and land on the Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier.

But before the pilots get a chance to practice on the Liaoning, they have to train at the land-based facility, the exact location of which hasn't been officially disclosed.

Every pilot will have to pass a series of tests at the site before they'll be cleared for test training at sea.

The training center is set up to mimick what it will be like to land on the aircraft carrier, including landing using arresting cables.

Landing and taking off from an aircraft carrier is much different for a pilot than it is from a land-based airport.

As such, over 27-hundred flights took off and landed at the land-based test site before any flight testing first began on the Liaoning.

Tian Wei is a squadron leader at the training base. He says they've made up 10 different manuals to help the pilots through the nuances of learning how to operate their jets at sea.

"The follow-up training is very crucial. For example, a manufacturer makes a gun and shows you how to load the bullets and how to shoot. However, it requires a lot of practice if you want to hit the target, and hit it with accuracy. As such, we drafted a program and manual for our pilots to follow."

The training staff at the facility aren't taking any chances before letting the pilots test on the Liaoning.

The testing facility has been made more difficult to land on than it will be on the Liaoning.

There is only one arresting cable across the landing zone.

The aircraft carrier has 4 cables which the pilots can hit to allow them to stop.

Zhou Chunshan is the deputy commander of the training base.

"Land-based training is mostly focused on landing practice. Landing is the most difficult thing for a pilot to do on an aircraft carrier, so accuracy and consistency is the most important thing for our pilots. We record their landings and map how well they are progressing."

Authorities running the land-based training base say they are hoping to make improvements on the field to give their pilots more practice and training with simulated aircraft carrier take-offs as well.

Monday, April 8, 2013

China to construct more than twenty type 056 frigates

Looks like they are mainly for South China Sea operations, due to their light displacement.

Last August the Chinese Navy received its first Type 056 corvette. After extensive testing at sea, this ship (hull number 582) entered service on February 24th. There are at least twenty more 056s under construction and 4-5 more will enter service this year. These ships appear to be playing a crucial role in Chinese efforts to seize control of the South China Sea.

The Type 056s are 1,400 ton ships armed with four C-903 anti-ship missiles (200 kilometers range), a FL-3000N anti-aircraft missile (nine kilometers range) launcher (with eight missiles), two 30mm remotely controlled autocannon and one 76mm gun. The ship has air and sea search radars plus a helicopter platform in the rear and will be used mainly for coastal patrol. The ship is highly automated and has a crew of only 60.

The 056s will replace an aging fleet of Type 053 class frigates. It was one of these ships (the Dongguan) that ran aground on a reef off the Philippines coast near Half Moon Shoal two years ago. This happened 111 kilometers from the Philippines (Palawan Island) and over 1,100 kilometers from the Chinese mainland. Letting a 2,400 ton warship (carrying a crew of 200) move around in these shallow and treacherous waters at night was asking for trouble. The waters west of the Philippines (including all the reefs, shoals, atolls, and islets claimed by China) are shallow and full of obstacles just under the water. Even shallow draft fishing boats proceed carefully and usually just in daylight. GPS and recent efforts to fully map (chart) the area have made it safer but only for those who proceed with care. China eventually got the Dongguan off the reef. A Type 056, which has a shallower draft and more modern navigation systems, would probably not have gone aground in the first place.

China recently upgraded the Dongguan and the other five Type 053H1G frigates, apparently in order keep them in service for another decade or more. Originally built in the 1990s, the six Type 053H1G ships were the last of 53 Type 053s built over about twenty years. Based on the older Russian Riga class frigate, the Chinese expanded the original 1,400 ton Riga (armed with depth charges, three 100mm guns, and torpedoes) design, to a missile laden 2,500 ton vessel equipped with modern electronics. The few Type 053s still in service are mainly used for coastal patrol. But the 053 design grew too large for this job, and the smaller Type 056 sets that right.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chinese fighter designer compares J-15 to F/A-18 Hornet

My guess is that J-15 is probably more comparable to F/A-18C Hornet then F/A-18F super Hornet.
The chief designer of the Shenyang J-15 fighter has compared the aircraft to the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet, and suggests that the developmental J-31 could one day serve aboard Chinese aircraft carriers.

In an interview with Chinese state news agency Xinhua, Chinese aircraft designer Sun Cong said that the J-15 is "generally close to the US F/A-18, reaching world class standards".

He adds that the J-15 could have a combat radius of over 1,000km (540nm) if powered by domestic engines. This comment could corroborate reports that the J-15s conducting flight tests aboard the aircraft carrier Liaoning are powered by Russia's Saturn AL-31F, and not the domestically produced Shenyang WS-10A.

For its part, in December 2012, the defence ministry said the J-15 is powered by the WS-10A. Industry observers, however, are dubious about this claim owing to Beijing's well-known struggles with jet engine technology.

In the interview, an abstract of which was published on China's defence ministry website, he said that developing the J-15 presented special challenges. Aside from a requirement to have equal "combat capability" to land-based aircraft, naval fighters must also have exceptional low speed performance for landing on a carrier deck.

In the version of the interview published on the People's Daily website, Sun said that he hoped the J-31 would become China's next carrier-borne fighter. This section of the interview was excluded from the version on the defence ministry's website.

Beijing's plans for the J-31 is unclear. It is uncertain whether it is designed as a competitor or complimentary type to the larger Chengdu J-20. A model resembling the J-31 was also shown in the AVIC hall during Airshow China in Zhuhai in November, which could suggest that Beijing seeks a foreign partner in the program.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

China's first solid-fuel rocket to debut before 2016

Since China already has all solid-fuel missiles in service, this new solid-fuel should not be too difficult.

China's first solid-fuel rocket Long March-11 is expected to make its first launch before 2016, a senior official of the rocket's designing institute said on Saturday.

Liang Xiaohong, deputy head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, said the rocket will be easy to operate and cost-efficient to launch. It can remain in storage for long period and reliably launch on short notice.

"The development of the Long March-11 will greatly improve China's capabilities to rapidly enter the space and meet the emergency launching demand in case of disasters and emergencies," he told Xinhua.

The Long March-11 rocket system consists of a solid-fuel rocket and a launching support system. It will apply China's largest solid-fuel rocket engine, he said.

China has made more than 160 launching of liquid-fuel rockets successfully but is yet to make breakthrough on the development of the solid-fuel rockets.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Recent submarine development for Chinese navy

Over the last five years, Chinese submarines have been going to sea a lot more, at least the diesel-electric boats have been. This is worrying to other nations in the region, and the U.S. Navy, because it means China is training its submarine crews for war. Previously the Chinese kept their fleet in port most of the time. This was cheaper, although in wartime it meant that Chinese warships would not last long in combat against a better trained fleet (like the Americans, Japanese, South Koreans, or Taiwanese). Now the Chinese are building better quality subs and feel they may have a fighting chance, if they have better prepared crews as well.

For China one downside of all this training is that the U.S. Navy has more opportunity to practice hunting Chinese subs. This is particularly true for American subs, which are well equipped with passive (listen only) sonar and are even more effective if they have a lot of sound samples for enemy subs operating underwater or on the surface. The U.S. has discovered that Chinese diesel-electric boats are rapidly getting quieter, apparently because the Chinese have learned more about advanced techniques for “silencing” subs. Still, most of the 60 Chinese subs in service are pretty noisy and easy to find.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Navy has been designing and building a rapidly evolving collection of "Song" (Type 39) class diesel-electric submarines that emphasize quietness. The changes have been so great that the latest four Songs have been called Yuan class (Type 39A or Type 41). The original design (Type 39) first appeared in 2001, and 13 have been built. But in 2008, a noticeably different Type 39 appeared. This has been called Type 39A or Type 41. Two of these Type 39As appeared before two of another variant, sometimes called Type 39B, showed up. The evolution continues, and there are now six or seven "Type 41 Yuan Class" subs (of at least three distinct models). These latest models appear to have AIP (air independent propulsion system) along with new electronics and other internal improvements.

This rapid evolution of the Type 39 appears to be another example of China adapting Russian submarine technology to Chinese design ideas and new technology. China has been doing this for as long as it has been building subs (since the 1960s). But this latest version of what appears to be the Type 41 design shows Chinese naval engineers getting more creative. Two or more Yuans are believed to have an AIP that would allow them to cruise underwater longer. Western AIP systems allow subs to stay under water for two weeks or more. The Chinese AIP has less power and reliability and does not appear to be nearly as capable as Russian or Western models. The Chinese will keep improving on their AIP, just as they have done with so much other military technology.

The Songs look a lot like the Russian Kilo class and that was apparently no accident. The 39s and 41s are both 1,800 ton boats with crews of 60 sailors and six torpedo tubes. This is very similar to the Kilos (which are a bit larger). China began ordering Russian Kilo class subs, then one of the latest diesel-electric designs available, in the late 1990s. The first two Type 41s appeared to be a copy of the early model Kilo (the model 877), while the second pair of Type 41s appeared to copy the late Kilos (model 636). The latest Yuans still appear like Kilos but may be part of an evolution into a sub that is similar to the Russian successor to the Kilo, the Lada. The Type 39s were the first Chinese subs to have the teardrop shaped hull. The Type 41 was thought to be just an improved Song but on closer examination, especially by the Russians, it looked like a clone of the Kilos. The Russians now believe that the entire Song/Yuan project is part of a long-range plan to successfully copy the Kilo. If that is the case, it appears to be succeeding.

China currently has 13 Song class, 12 Kilo class, 7 Yuan class, and 18 Ming (improved Russian Romeo) class boats. There are only 3 Han class SSNs, as the Chinese are still having a lot of problems with nuclear power in subs. Despite that, the Hans are going to sea, even though they are noisy and easily detected by Western sensors. Five Hans were built (between 1974 and 1991) but 2 have already been retired. There are 4 newer Shang class SSNs in service, but these are still pretty noisy. The Song/Yuan class subs are meant to replace the elderly Mings.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

China's new Y-20 military transport

General characteristics
Crew: 3
Payload: 66 tonnes
Length: 47 m
Wingspan: 50 m
Height: 15 m
Wing area: 310 m²
Empty weight: 100,000 kg
Max. takeoff weight: 220,000 kg
Powerplant: 4 × Soloviev D-30KP-2 or WS-18

Y-20 looks like to be in the same class as Russia's Il-76 transport, but not as capable as Boeing C-17 transport.

China’s first Y-20 large military transport aircraft made its first successful flight on Saturday.

The Y-20 is China’s independently-developed large multi-purpose transport aircraft. China boasts that the aircraft is capable of long range transport in all weathers. It has a payload of 66 tons.

According to a statement released by the Chinese ministry of defence, the transport aircraft has a crew of three, a length of 47 meters, a wingspan of 45 meters and a height of 15 meters, and has a takeoff weight of a little more than 200 tons.

The first Y-20 is powered by Russian engines but will be retrofitted with more powerful Chinese engines.

“TheY-20 transport aircraft has strong taking-off and landing capability as evidenced by being able to take off and land at airstrips, and can carry all types of armoured vehicles of the army of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)”, the statement added.

The aircraft is expected to carry out further tests after its maiden flight.

"The advanced long-range carrier is being developed to serve the military modernisation drive, as well as to meet demands in disaster relief work and humanitarian aid in emergency situations,” the Chinese defence ministry said.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force operates approximately 20 Ilyushin Il-76 large transport aircraft and has another 30 on order.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

China satellite navigation Beidou starts services

BEIJING — A Chinese satellite navigation network created to eventually compete with America’s Global Positioning System has started offering services to Asian users outside the country.

The network’s spokesman, Ran Chengqi, said in a press briefing that the Beidou system is offering from Thursday services including positioning, navigation, time and text messaging to users in the Asia-Pacific region.

China expects Beidou to generate a 400 billion yuan ($63 billion) annual market for services to the transport, meteorology and telecommunications sectors.

China, and especially its military, have long been wary of relying on the United States’ dominant GPS network, fearing that Washington might take the system offline in a conflict or an emergency.