Could This 1 Chinese Fighter Jet Take on the Air Forces Best?


China’s J-10 Image: Creative Commons.

The Chengdu J-10 Firebird was the People’s Republic of China’s first attempt to develop a fourth generation fighter comparable to the American Boeing F-15C Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-16 Falcon as well as the Soviet Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker and the Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum. Who would win in a fight?
by TNI Staff

Overall, the J-10 is a competent design that offers good capability at modest prices. More importantly, it is an indigenous aircraft where China more or less developed most of the intellectual property itself. As such, the Chinese have gained valuable experience in developing fighter aircraft, which they have applied to creating the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter and other follow-on jets. Moreover, the J-10 is an aircraft that can be produced in numbers, giving the PLAAF volume. The jet, is therefore, a useful addition to the PLAAF fleet.

The Chengdu J-10 Firebird was the People’s Republic of China’s first attempt to develop a fourth generation fighter comparable to the American Boeing F-15C Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-16 Falcon as well as the Soviet Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker and the Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum.

The Chengdu J-10 Firebird was the People’s Republic of China’s first attempt to develop a fourth generation fighter comparable to the American Boeing F-15C Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-16 Falcon as well as the Soviet Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker and the Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum.

While initially envisioned as a pure air superiority fighter when development started in 1988 as a direct counter to the Su-27 and MiG-29, the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union meant that Beijing could retool the J-10 into a multirole fighter that would complement the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) growing fleet of Flanker derivatives—which a formerly adversarial—and impoverished—Russian Federation was more than willing to supply in exchange for hard currency. Indeed, while the J-10 has evolved over the years into a formidable warplane as new technologies are added to the jet, various unlicensed Chinese copies of the Su-27 and Su-30 including the J-11B, J-15 and the J-16 among others have largely overshadowed the Firebird.

Nonetheless, since 2004 when the Firebird entered service, the J-10 has made up an important part of the PLAAF ‘s order of battle with roughly 350 jets in service—providing China with a relatively low cost and capable fourth-generation strike fighter. Indeed, before the service embarked on an upgrade program for its Boeing F-15C fleet, the United States Air Force had considered the most modern fielded versions of the J-10 to be a potent threat to the Eagle. The Chinese aircraft combines an advanced airframe design—largely derived from the Israeli Lavi fighter—with advanced avionics. And over the years, Beijing has upgraded—and indeed continues—to upgrade the J-10 with advanced new features.

The initial J-10A version was a fairly basic fourth-generation fighter, however, its cockpit was remarkable since it featured an all-glass design that was somewhat more advanced than its Russian counterparts. In terms of avionics, the jet was fitted with the Type 1473H pulse-Doppler fire control radar and could carry pods including the Type Hongguang-I infrared search and track pod, BM/KG300G self-protection jamming pod, KZ900 electronic reconnaissance pod, Blue Sky navigation/attack pod and the FILAT (Forward-looking Infra-red Laser Attack Targeting) pod. The jet is also capable of carrying a range of Russian and Chinese radar and infrared guided air-to-air missiles as well as a host of precision-guided weapons. The jet uses a 28,000lbs thrust Salyut AL-31FN as its powerplant.

The more advanced J-10B, features a host of improvements, first flew in December 2008 and entered service in 2014. The most immediately apparent modification is the addition of a diverterless supersonic inlet, which should help to reduce the aircraft’s radar cross section while reducing weight and complexity—but at the price of some degraded high speed performance. The J-10B incorporates an infrared search and track (IRST) with an added laser rangefinder plus an indigenous passive electronically scanned array (PESA) fire-control radar that is allegedly capable of engaging 4 targets simultaneously. It also incorporates a much more capable electronic warfare and countermeasures (EW/ECM) suite.

The latest version of the jet is the J-10C, which made first flight in December 2013. Deliveries began in late 2016 and the new version is thought to be in service as of July 2017. The new J-10C incorporates an indigenously-built active electronically scanned array (AESA) fire-control radar and uses more composite materials in its airframe. However, it is possible that the jet will be further refined with the addition of a Shenyang-Liming WS-10 Taihang turbofan engine with a vectored thrust nozzle.

Overall, the J-10 is a competent design that offers good capability at modest prices. More importantly, it is an indigenous aircraft where China more or less developed most of the intellectual property itself. As such, the Chinese have gained valuable experience in developing fighter aircraft, which they have applied to creating the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter and other follow-on jets. Moreover, the J-10 is an aircraft that can be produced in numbers, giving the PLAAF volume. The jet, is therefore, a useful addition to the PLAAF fleet.

Source: National Interest “Could This 1 Chinese Fighter Jet Take on the Air Forces Best?

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Meet the J-10 ‘Vigorous Dragon’ Fighter Jet: China’s Own F-16 (Tanks to Israel)


We take a look.

China’s J-10 fighter jet Image: Creative Commons.

At any rate, the J-10 is more inspired by the Lavi than an outright clone. It is significantly longer and heavier, and has different wings. In his book, Golan explains that China lacked access to the compact PW1120 engine and the capability for wide-scale manufacturing of lightweight composite components. (China finally achieved the latter with the Y-20 transport plane.) Therefore, Song had to lengthen the J-10’s fuselage by two meters to accommodate a Russian AL-31F turbofan, resulting in an 11.75-ton jet.

The J-10 “Vigorous Dragon” is a mainstay of China’s effort to modernize its large fleet of single-engine jet fighters, with 350 already in service. An agile tactical fighter similar to the ubiquitous F-16 Fighting Falcon, the Vigorous Dragon was the first domestic Chinese design roughly on par with Western and Russian fourth-generation fighters.

(This first appeared last month.)

However, there is considerable evidence that the J-10’s development was heavily informed by a jet fighter developed by Israel with U.S. engines in the 1980s.

Israel first manufactured its own jets after its order of French Dassault Mirage Vs was embargoed in 1967. Israeli agents obtained Mirage V schematics (and most likely manufacturing components and even airframes), allowing Israel Aerospace Industries to produce two domestic clones: the Nesher and the improved Kfir. These both served with the IAF and were exported broad.

Between 1969–1979, the IAF received high-performance twin-engine F-4 Phantom fighters and F-15 Eagles from the United States. However, it still wanted a cheaper single-engine tactical fighter to replace its increasingly vulnerable A-4 Skyhawk and Nesher jets. So why not also build the Nesher’s replacement domestically?

The resulting dapper IAI Lavi (Lion Cub) had delta-wings (good for high-speed performance) combined with canards, a second set of small wings near the nose for improved lift and maneuverability. The Lion Cub was so maneuverable it was aerodynamically unstable, but an advanced quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire flight control system counter-acted the instability.

Composite materials were extensively incorporated to lower the Lavi’s weight down to just 7.25-tons empty. A compact Pratt & Whitney 1120 turbofan slung under the belly delivered large amounts of thrust, allowing the little Lavi to fly far and fast carrying up to a sixteen-thousand-pound payload.

In fact, with the exception of the canards, the Lavi closely resembled in appearance and capability the U.S.-built F-16s that entered Israeli Air Force service in 1980. These soon saw extensive combat service, destroying the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor and shooting down over forty Syrian fighters over Lebanon without loss.

Israeli and U.S. critics of the Lavi pointed out Israel was investing $2 billion in development costs to reinvent an airplane it had already bought from the United States. The more ground-attack oriented Lavi did differ in a few respects, however. It had a lower maximum speed of Mach 1.6-1.8 compared to the Falcon’s Mach 2, but had 50 percent longer range. It also had a powerful internal mounted jamming system for self-protection. The Lavi’s Israeli-designed avionics were comparable to the later F-16C model than the more rudimentary F-16A.

However, by the 1980s jet fighter development costs had grown exponentially as they grew more and more sophisticated; and, unlike the Nesher and Kfir, the Lavi was not cloned from an existing design. IAI hoped to make back the costs by exporting the Lavi, particularly to states facing embargoes due to poor human-rights records such as Apartheid-era South Africa, Chile and Argentina.

But the U.S., provider of 40 percent of the Lavi components, didn’t want to subsidize a competitor for the F-16. Washington signaled it would only cooperate if Israel refrained from exporting the Lavi.

By 1987 IAI had built two flying two-seat Lavi prototypes which demonstrated excellent performance in eighty-two test flights. Three more were under construction. It had also tested the PW1120 turbofans on an F-4 ‘Super Phantom’ which demonstrated such extraordinary performance it even flew a demo at the Paris Air Show and was briefly considered for export.

However, the extraordinary financial commitments the Lavi entailed made it extremely politically divisive. On August 30, in an 11-12 vote, the Israeli cabinet canceled the Lavi. Ninety additional F-16s were procured instead.

From Israel to China

Thus ended Israel’s production of domestic jet fighters—but not of advanced weapons and components for jet fighters, which was greatly boosted by technologies developed for the Lavi.

One notable export was the Python-3 heat-seeking missile, which boasted the then still-rare ability to engage planes from any aspect using a helmet-mounted sight. The technology was licensed for production by China’s Xi’an Aircraft Corporation in 1989 as the PL-8 missile, which remains in service today.

Other technologies transferred include the E/LM-2035 doppler radar (derivatives installed on the J-8 and J-10 fighter) and the Tamam inertial navigation system.

In fact, during the 1980s, the U.S. and Western Europe were also exporting military technology to China, then seen as a counter-balance to the Soviet Union. U.S. firms even explored co-developing updated J-7 and J-8 fighters for Beijing. However, Chinese-Western defense cooperation ended abruptly following the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989.

However, in the mid-1990s, U.S. newspapers began reporting that intelligence agencies were concerned about continued Israeli technology transfers to China—including some components given to Israel by the United States.

This included allegations that Israel had transferred Lavi technology for China’s program to develop a fourth-generation jet fighter. The Chengdu Aircraft Corporation had begun work on the J-10 in 1988 under engineer Song Wecong, who can be seen next to a Lavi in this photo (fourth from the right).

In his book Lavi: the United States, Israel and a Controversial Fighter, John W. Golan wrote:

Israeli involvement in the J-10 appears to have begun at around the same time that China first opened diplomatic relations with Israel in January 1992 . . . Israeli contractors were engaged to provide the aerodynamic and structural outlines for the J-10. The Israeli influences on the J-10’s design are unmistakable: a close-coupled, canard-delta arrangement; a single-engine fighter featuring a ventral engine inlet; twin ventral strakes; and an area-ruled fuselage.

You can see the striking resemblance in these photo comparisons.

Concerns over Israel-China technology transfers spurred Congress to ban exporting the hi-tech F-22 Raptor stealth fighter. Unfortunately, the lack of export orders combined with later defense spending cuts, led to the premature closure of the F-22s production line. In its final years, the Clinton administration also blocked Israel from exporting its Phalcon airborne early-warning aircraft, forcing China to spend years domestically developing a wide variety of its own AEW aircraft.

According to Golan, “Israeli involvement in the J-10 program appears to have been curtailed at around the same time, with Russia stepping in to market Soviet-developed avionics systems to supply production versions of the aircraft.”

Both Song and IAI officials have staunchly denied collaboration in the J-10’s development.

However, in 2008, Jane’s reported that in extended interviews with several visiting Russian engineers that Chengdu “benefited from significant, direct input from Israel’s Lavi programme – including access to the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Lavi aircraft itself . . . This has included extensive design and performance modeling, wind-tunnel testing and advanced aerodynamic design input . . . Jane’s was told how Chengdu officials of the highest level stated how they had one of the IAI Lavi prototypes in their facilities.”

Hypothetically, Jane’s Russian sources may have been spreading misinformation. Russia’s aviation industry has a decidedly love-hate relationship with China.

However, if Israel did transfer Lavi technology to China—both parties would have strong incentives to deny it.

At any rate, the J-10 is more inspired by the Lavi than an outright clone. It is significantly longer and heavier, and has different wings. In his book, Golan explains that China lacked access to the compact PW1120 engine and the capability for wide-scale manufacturing of lightweight composite components. (China finally achieved the latter with the Y-20 transport plane.) Therefore, Song had to lengthen the J-10’s fuselage by two meters to accommodate a Russian AL-31F turbofan, resulting in an 11.75-ton jet.

Nonetheless, the J-10 remain an agile, versatile and inexpensive multirole fighter designed from the outset to incorporate hi-tech avionic systems and guided weapons. Though not a cutting-edge stealth aircraft, it marked an important milestone in China’s military modernization—achieved, most likely, with a little foreign assistance.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.

Source: National Interest “Meet the J-10 ‘Vigorous Dragon’ Fighter Jet: China’s Own F-16 (Thanks to Israel?)”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


See These Chinese Missiles? They Can Sink an Aircraft Carrier


And America doesn’t have them.

by Kyle Mizokami September 26, 2019

Key point: America’s weapons are the best, but Beijing has some good ones anyone might want.

We all know that there are plenty of U.S. weapons the Chinese military would like to get its hands on. The Arsenal of Democracy churns out some of the best, most technologically advanced and versatile weapons in service anywhere. China is willing to steal American military technology to help advance its own military research and development programs.

The United States on the other hand…well, there is probably not a single Chinese weapon that, in a direct comparison, is better than its American equivalent and that probably won’t change for another twenty years. So if we want to talk about Chinese weapons for the American military, we have to think about holes in current American capabilities. There aren’t many, but here are Chinese weapons that might make the American military a little better.

AG600 Seaplane

The United States made extensive use of seaplanes during the Second World War, where they were instrumental in rescuing downed pilots and providing long-range reconnaissance. It was a PBY Catalina seaplane that reported the location of Admiral Nagumo’s fleet, setting the stage for the American victory at the Battle of Midway.

If the United States is serious about fighting across the expanse of the Pacific, it will once again need a long-range aircraft that can land in the water. China’s new AG600 seaplane is the answer. The largest seaplane in the world, it’s as big as a Boeing 737. It can carry up to fifty passengers, has a range of 3,100 miles, and can stay aloft for up to twelve hours.

DF-ZF Hypersonic Vehicle

Washington has expressed interest in so-called hypersonic weapons—weapons that travel at more than five times the speed of sound. Several projects, including the X-51 scramjet—have undergone development, but despite the technical prowess of the United States no one system has reached operational status yet.

The DF-ZF hypersonic vehicle is seemingly farther along than its American equivalents. The DF-ZF, which travels at speeds between 4,000 and 7,000 miles an hour, has had seven successful tests. Although the Chinese weapon travels more slowly than its American equivalent, it appears much closer to operational status than anything in development in the United States.

ZBD-05 Amphibious Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The U.S. Marine Corps attempt to replace the AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicle is now in its fourth decade. The original project, begun in 1988 resulted in the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, a failed effort that consumed $3 billion dollars before being canceled in 2011.

The U.S. is pressing ahead with the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle initiative, but in the meantime what about the Chinese ZBD-05? Developed by Chinese defense contractor Norinco, the ZBD-05 has a crew of three, can carry ten passengers, and has a 30-millimeter cannon mounted in a turret. It has ballistic protection up to .50 caliber rounds and shrapnel, and has a water speed of up to eighteen miles an hour.

Type 072A LST

Amphibious capability is going to be key in any future standoff in the Western Pacific. As part of a broader switch to fewer, more capable platforms America’s amphibious fleet is concentrated in massive the Wasp, America, and San Antonio-class ships of the U.S. Navy. Always accompanied by a slew of escorts, these hulking ships attract attention.

The Type 072A landing ship is a frigate-sized amphibious vessel. Just 390 feet long and 3,400 tons empty, the ships can carry three hundred troops, a dozen tanks, or eight hundred tons of cargo. It has a helicopter flight deck on the stern and a well deck that can accommodate China’s version of the LCAC air cushion transport. The Type 072A could be just the thing for quietly slipping into an area, depositing a small company-sized force of marines, and slipping away—without sending in an entire amphibious ready group.

Type 056 Corvette

The United States needs a capable littoral combat ship. Despite more than a decade of ship construction and development of high tech “mission modules”, the Littoral Combat Ship program has created a growing fleet of minimally capable ships armed largely with a single 57-millimeter and two 30-millimeter guns.

In the “perfect is the enemy of good” vein of thinking, consider the Type 056 corvette. The Type 056 is a small, 1,500 ton general purpose warship. The Type 056 may not rely on robotics and fancy swappable mission modules, but it’s cheap and available. It has a 76-millimeter gun, two 30-millimeter guns, and four YJ-83 anti-ship missiles. It has a FL-3000N launcher for air self defense.

For antisubmarine warfare, it has two triple-tube 324-millimeter torpedo launchers and more recent versions have a towed-array sonar system. It has a helicopter flight deck but not a hangar.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This first appeared in August 2016.

Source: National Interest “See These Chinese Missiles? They Can Sink an Aircraft Carrier.”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


China’s New stealth jet project moving ahead on pace


By ZHAO LEI | China Daily | Updated: 2019-07-09 07:13

A Chinese FC-31 stealth fighter jet takes off during a demonstration flight ahead of the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as Airshow China 2014, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, on Nov 10, 2014. [Photo by SONG FAN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Military aircraft in development will be able to carry out air, land, sea attacks

China’s development of the FC-31, the country’s second stealth fighter jet, is proceeding smoothly and on schedule, according to its chief designer.

Sun Cong, president of the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment under Aviation Industry Corporation of China, said at a news conference on Thursday in Shenyang, Liaoning province, that people should be patient and wait for good news from the project.

“You will see its latest developments in due course, in the near future,” said Sun, who is also the chief researcher at AVIC’s Shenyang Aircraft Design and Research Institute.

Sun’s comments indicated that China has never wavered in its attempts to develop and build a second series of stealth combat aircraft after the J-20 entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force in 2017.

His remarks are likely to reassure anyone concerned about the fate of FC-31 because of its virtual disappearance from public view over the past two years.

The twin-engine, radar-evading fighter jet was unveiled in October 2012 when a prototype made its maiden flight, becoming China’s second 5th-generation fighter jet, following the J-20.

The FC-31 has a high survivability rate, a low radar signature, advanced electronic countermeasures, strong information gathering and handling capacity, outstanding situational awareness and beyond-visual-range combat capability.

In addition to air combat, it can also carry out strikes against land and sea targets, according to its designers.

The aircraft has a large weapons bay and can carry multiple external missiles.

According to AVIC specifications, the FC-31 has a maximum takeoff weight of 25 metric tons, a combat range of 1,200 kilometers and a top speed of Mach 1.8, or 2,205 kilometers per hour. It can carry 8 tons of weapons and has a designed life span of up to 30 years.

The FC-31 will enter service in the PLA as the Shenyang institute and Shenyang Aircraft Corp’s latest major accomplishment, following the J-15 carrier-based fighter jet and the half-century-old J-8 series fighter jet.

Last week in Shenyang, AVIC marked the 50th anniversary of the J-8’s maiden flight, as well as the 10th anniversary of J-15’s first flight.

The J-8 was China’s first domestically developed combat plane capable of executing high-altitude, high-speed operations, and the series has several variants still in service with the PLA Air Force and PLA Navy. The J-15 is the spearhead of the Navy’s carrier battle group and has taken part in many long-distance combat exercises over open seas.

Source: China Daily “New stealth jet project moving ahead on pace”

Note: This is China Daily’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Military Mystery: China’s Supersonic Stealth Bomber Is Coming


And here is all we can tell you about it.

by Sebastien Roblin May 22, 2019

The JH-XX would likely have shorter range (900-1500 miles) and a smaller payload than the H-20, but would be much faster at speeds up to twice the speed of sound. (Note, however, that friction generate at Mach 2 may erode the expensive coatings of radar-absorbent materials on stealth aircraft.) Thus, while an JH-XX might eventually be detected as it sprints towards its target, the combination of speed and reduced detection range would theoretically give interceptors and air defenses too little time to react.

In January 2018, two sentences in an annual report by the DIA on Chinese military power sent a minor shockwave rippling across the defense-related internet:

“The PLAAF is developing new medium- and long-range stealth bombers to strike regional and global targets. Stealth technology continues to play a key role in the development of these new bombers, which probably will reach initial operational capability no sooner than 2025.”

(This first appeared several months ago.)

Bombers, plural. In a separate chart, an un-designated next-generation “Tactical Bomber” is listed, denoted as being equipped with a high-resolution Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, precision-guided bombs and long-range air-to-air missiles.

In the last few years, China’s development of what appears to be a subsonic long-range heavy strategic bomber called the H-20 has become increasingly evident—especially in 2018, when the Chinese government began teasing a public unveiling to take place in 2019. The flying wing bomber, which apparently resembles the U.S. B-2 Spirit in form and function, is to be produced by Xi’an Aircraft Corporation, which already manufactures older H-6 strategic bombers and the chubby Y-20 transport plane.

However, the stealth “tactical” or “medium” bomber was news—sort of. The fighter-bomber in question is believed to refer to the JH-XX, a rival stealth bomber concept proposed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation believed to have been passed over in favor of the longer-range H-20. Shenyang is better known for producing fighters, including Chinese derivatives of the Russian Flanker jet and a J-31 stealth fighter which may be exported or serve on Chinese aircraft carriers.

The first image of this JH-XX concept was leaked at a convention in 2013. Then in May 2018, the prestigious Chinese magazine Aviation Knowledge flashed concept art on its cover of a futuristic-looking stealth jet measuring roughly thirty meters in length, with two huge turbofan engines atop the rear fuselage, canted tail-stabilizers near identical to Northrop’s YF-23 Black Widow stealth prototype, a big bomb bay in the belly and side weapon-bays for carrying long-range air-to-air missiles. This image has since inspired model kits and online fan-art. (One should bear in mind that speculative artwork of the “F-19 stealth fighter” in the 1980s ended up bearing little resemblance to the actual F-117 stealth jet.)

It’s not clear why the DIA believes the JH-XX is actively under development. Rick Joe of The Diplomat, who has written arguably the most detailed English-language profile of the JH-XX prior to the DIA report, expressed his skepticism in a series of tweets:

“Regarding the DIA report ‘confirming’ a PLA stealthy medium bomber; the info hasn’t changed since last year when I wrote this piece: ‘To the best of our knowledge the JH-XX does not seem to be actively pursued…’”

“Now, maybe the DIA report was based on classified intel the public is not privy to, but from the quality of the rest of the report I doubt it,” he said in a separate tweet. “Chances are they relied on some open source/public articles about JH-XX and interpreted them a bit over zealously.”

Thus, it may be prudent to wait for further evidence to emerge before taking the JH-XX’s active development as a given.

Why would PLA even order two types of stealth bombers? Effectively, the JH-XX would represent a different set of design compromises. The H-20 trades speed in exchange for greater payload, range and stealth. The ‘game plan’ is for such a bomber is to penetrate enemy airspace without being detected at all, as it doesn’t have the agility to evade enemy fighters or missiles. It’s projected range of five thousand miles would allow it strike targets across the Pacific, especially if combined with aerial refueling and long-range missiles.

The JH-XX would likely have shorter range (900-1500 miles) and a smaller payload than the H-20, but would be much faster at speeds up to twice the speed of sound. (Note, however, that friction generate at Mach 2 may erode the expensive coatings of radar-absorbent materials on stealth aircraft.) Thus, while an JH-XX might eventually be detected as it sprints towards its target, the combination of speed and reduced detection range would theoretically give interceptors and air defenses too little time to react.

Overall, the H-20’s long range and heavier payload is more useful to the PLA. However, the JH-XX would bring a different mix of capabilities and might be better for penetrating certain very dense air-defense networks where evading detection may not be possible even for a stealthy H-20.

The United States and the Australian Air Force formerly operated supersonic F-111 Aardvark regional bombers that had a similar mission profile, though lacking in stealth characteristics. Furthermore, in the early 2000s, the Pentagon considered procuring bomber variants of the Raptor stealth fighter and the YF-23 before passing on that idea in favor of the B-21 Raider strategic stealth bomber. In fact, Tyler Rogoway and Joseph Trevithick at The Drive speculate that the JH-XX concept may have been informed in part by technical documents possibly acquired by Chinese hackers for these aircraft.

Unlike the H-20, the JH-XX’s high speed would make it viable for carrying air-to-air missiles, not only for self-defense, but for hit-and-run attacks on vulnerable support planes, or to rapidly intercept incoming bombers. While the JH-XX likely wouldn’t be optimized for short-range aerial dogfights against highly maneuverable fighters, its stealth, speed and large payload could still make it a deadly delivery platform for beyond-visual range air-to-air missiles.

One last intriguing application of the JH-XX concept could be naval strike. The PLA Naval Air Force currently operates 250 JH-7 ‘Flying Leopard’ supersonic naval strike bomber. These non-stealthy planes depend on long-range anti-ship missiles and electronic warfare to overcome the formidable air defenses of modern surface warships. A stealth fighter bomber could conceivably get much closer to, say, an opposing carrier-task force, before being detected—giving the targeted vessels a much smaller window to engage their defenses. Of course, stealth capabilities might also make the JH-XX an especially survivable electronic warfare and spy plane in its own right. Naval analyst Robert Farley has speculated that the JH-XX might even be intended for carrier deployment.

If the JH-XX is truly under active development, then additional rumors and photos may eventually surface. Until then, the supersonic stealth-bomber’s development status must come with an asterisk, even if that won’t dissuade model-makers and defense writers alike from speculation.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.

Source: National Interest “Military Mystery: China’s Supersonic Stealth Bomber Is Coming”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


PLAAF operating ECM variant of Y-9 aircraft


Chinese broadcaster CCTV showed images in early March of an ECM variant of the Shaanxi Y-9 aircraft. Source: CCTV/PLAAF

Andrew Tate, London – Jane’s Defence Weekly

12 March 2019

State-owned broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) has shown images of an electronic countermeasures (ECM) variant of the Shaanxi Y-9 four-engined, turboprop aircraft painted in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) colour scheme: an indication that this version is now in service.

The new variant features distinctive blisters forward and aft of the wing on both port and starboard sides of the fuselage, which are assessed to house the antennas for the jamming suite. Other elements of the suite are likely to be housed in the pod on top of the tailplane, flat panel antennas either side of the tailplane, the chin radome, and in the rear fuselage section.

Images showing a developmental version of this aircraft, painted in yellow primer, first appeared in 2014.

The Shaanxi Y-8/Y-9 airframe has been used for a range of special mission aircraft referred to as Gao Xin (GX). Although there is no official confirmation, it is believed this variant is the Y-9G/GX-11.

The Y-8’s airframe, which is based on that of the Russian-made Antonov An-12 ‘Cub’, has been produced by the Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation since 1972. Further development led to the Y-9, which first flew around 2010.

The Y-9 upgrade included a digital avionics suite, more powerful WJ-6C engines, and six-bladed composite propellers. Cruising speed is assessed at about 300 kt (556 km/h) and endurance around 10.5 hours.

The new Y-9 variant shown by CCTV in early March is potentially a replacement for the Y-8G/GX-4 ECM variant that first flew around 2004. Up to eight Y-8G/GX-4s are believed to be in service with the PLAAF, although one is thought to have crashed in 2018.

The Shaanxi plant near Hanzhong, where the Y-9 is built, has been expanded significantly since 2010 and is assessed to be capable of producing up to 16 aircraft annually.

Source: Jane’s 360 “PLAAF operating ECM variant of Y-9 aircraft”

Note: This is Jane’s 360’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Forget China’s Stealth Fighter: This Is the Plane the Air Force Should Fear


This is not what you think.

by Sebastien Roblin September 3, 2018

If Beijing wanted to, it could probably develop a carrier-based equivalent to the J-16D. The J-15 Flying Shark fighters on China’s two Type 001 carriers also share common heritage in the Flanker family of aircraft, and pursuing a similar upgrade of the two-seat J-15SD seems plausible. However, one limitation would be the lower payload that the J-15s can carry, due to the maximum takeoff weight limitations imposed by the Chinese carriers’ ski-jump-style decks. In any case, it is not even clear to what extent the J-16D will be adopted.

The United States Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic attack fighters are one of a small number of military aircraft types dedicated to the task of jamming—and potentially destroying—hostile radars that could guide deadly surface-to-air missiles against friendly aircraft. This mission is known as Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD). Basically, if a modern air force wants to attack an adversary with significant antiaircraft defenses, it needs an effective SEAD game to avoid insupportable losses.

The Growler is derived from the F-18 Super Hornet fighter, and is faster, more maneuverable, and more heavily armed than preceding aerial jamming platforms based on transport and attack planes. This allows the Growlers to contribute additional firepower to strike missions, keep up with fighter planes they are escorting, and potentially approach a bit closer to hostile air defenses.

China’s aviation engineers have never been too proud to copy a good idea from abroad , usually modified with “Chinese characteristics.” Perhaps it is not surprising that they appear to have devised a Growler of their own.

The aircraft in question is a variant of the two-seat J-16 Red Eagle strike plane—itself a Chinese copy of the Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKK Flanker. The two-seat Red Eagle is roughly comparable to the American F-15E, and improves upon the Russian original with new avionics including an Active Electronically Scanned Array radar (AESA), the current state of the art in fighter-based radar technology. While China has had major problems developing reliable high-performance jet engines, it’s more successful at producing advanced electronics, perhaps due to crossover with its civilian electronic sector.

The J-16D variant—the “D” in the designation comes from the Chinese word for “electronic,” diànzǐ—made its first flight on December 18, 2015. Photos were released to the public three days later. Let’s go over the admittedly short list of what the photo tells us.

The J-16D has had its thirty-millimeter cannon and infrared sensor removed; this is not a plane intended to get into short-range dogfights! Instead, there are several new antennas and conformal electronic-warfare arrays along the fuselage. The J-16D’s nose radome is reshaped, possibly to accommodate a more advanced AESA radar. Most importantly, new electronic-warfare pods are mounted on the wingtips that resemble the American ALQ-218 electronic support measure pods on the wingtips of the EA-18G Growler. These are electromagnetic sensors that can analyze radar frequencies and help determine the position of radar-transmitting devices—data that would be highly useful both for jamming radars and for targeting them for destruction.

That’s all that’s known for sure—the PLAAF, after all, is not in the habit of giving detailed briefings about its latest fighters. Let’s move on now to the realm of plausible speculation.

If the J-16D’s airframe has integrated hardware to make jamming and anti-radar missiles more effective, it probably is designed to use jammers and anti-radar missiles. Most likely, it would carry two to three jamming pods the under the wings and fuselage, each optimized versus different radar frequencies. It is thought that these jammers may also use AESA technology.

Even with a maximum load of electronic-warfare gear, the J-16 would have six of its twelve hardpoints free to carry weapons. China has three different types of anti-radiation missiles (ARM), which are designed to home in on enemy radars from afar. The CM-103 missile has a range of sixty-two miles and is probably accurate enough to hit naval and ground targets with its 176-pound warhead. China also has a indigenously developed copy of the Russian Kh-31P missile, known as the YJ-91, which has slightly longer range and also has antiship applications. Finally, there is an LD-10 ARM missile derived from the PL-12 antiaircraft missile. Of course, the J-16D could carry most of the other armaments that the basic Red Eagle fighter can carry on its underwing hardpoints.

China already flies another fighter bomber with electronic warfare capabilities, the domestically designed two-seat JH-7 Flying Leopard, around 240 of which serve in the PLA Air Force and Naval Air Force. Capable of long-range operations and maximum speed of Mach 1.75, the Flying Leopard can carry about twenty thousand pounds of munitions, including anti-radar missiles. Both the base JH-7 and upgraded JH-7A have been photographed with jamming pods, which boast multiple jamming transmitters. However, the Flying Leopard lacks electronic warfare equipment integrated in the airframe, and is thus more limited as an electronic-warfare platform than a purpose-designed aircraft.

China also maintains a modest fleet of larger, slower aircraft that can provide jamming support at standoff range. These include a couple dozen Y-8GX and Y-9GX transports equipped with tactical jammers and other electronic-warfare gear, and HD-6 electronic-warfare planes based on the H-6 bomber . New Xianglong “Soaring Dragon” drones may also have application as tactical jammers.

If Beijing wanted to, it could probably develop a carrier-based equivalent to the J-16D. The J-15 Flying Shark fighters on China’s two Type 001 carriers also share common heritage in the Flanker family of aircraft, and pursuing a similar upgrade of the two-seat J-15SD seems plausible. However, one limitation would be the lower payload that the J-15s can carry, due to the maximum takeoff weight limitations imposed by the Chinese carriers’ ski-jump-style decks. In any case, it is not even clear to what extent the J-16D will be adopted.

After all, China is more famous for how its own missile systems serve in its antiaccess/area-denial strategy. Where might China actually confront enemy air defenses? Of course SEAD aircraft would have application in a conflict with Taiwan or, more unlikely, Japan. However, the electronic-warfare aircraft may be most oriented at countering U.S. Navy surface warships, which bristle with SM-2, SM-6 and Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles for shooting down both hostile aircraft and antiship missiles. These are especially potent when their firepower and sensors are coordinated by the Aegis combat system, which include vessels in the American, Japanese, South Korean and (soon) Australian navies.

For example, this Chinese article argues that JH-7ss using a combination of YJ-91 anti-radar missiles and electronic warfare would pose a “nightmare” for Aegis-equipped ships. Of course, using radar jamming alone is not an automatic “win button” against air defenses. However, jamming does degrade their effective radar detection and targeting ranges, making a swarm of attacking missiles or aircraft more likely to overwhelm the defenses.

Beijing is not interested in foreign wars at this time. However, it does seek to alter the military balance of power in the Pacific Ocean. Aircraft like the J-16D suggest the People’s Liberation Army is interested in developing specialized aircraft that will offer China a full spectrum of air-warfare capabilities—just like those of the U.S. military.

Source: National Interest “Forget China’s Stealth Fighter: This Is the Plane the Air Force Should Fear”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


China Adds New J-16 Fighter Jets for Deep Strikes


Military observers say they have noticed more J-16s entering service recently. Photo: Weibo

SCMP says in its report “China’s air force quietly adds new J-16 fighter jets to ‘push the envelope’” today, “Military observers say they have noticed more J-16s entering service recently, based on the serial numbers seen on fighter jets used in recent drills – evidence that the PLA Air Force is quietly adding to its squadron.”

J-16 is a multirole all-weather fighter jet armed with anti-ship missiles, air-to-air missiles, satellite-guided smart bombs, cruise missiles and electronic countermeasure (ECM) jammers. Its long range, large payload and refueling capability enables it to strike deep into enemy territories so that according to analysts, its deployment has added offensive capabilities to China’s previously mainly defensive air force.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2159280/chinas-air-force-quietly-adds-new-j-16-fighter-jets.


Disclosure of Newest Improved Version of KJ-500 AEW&C


The newest improved version of KJ-500. Photo: a web friend at lt.cjdby.net

Recently a new photo of certain improved version of KJ-500 AEW&C appears on the Internet. The photo clearly shows the pipe for aerial refuel.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Disclosure of the newest improved version of KJ-500 AEW&C aircraft” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

 


Footage of J-20 in Joint Combat Training