By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/25 18:18:16
A Chinese FC-31 stealth fighter has its test flight ahead of the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, Nov 10, 2014. File photo: Xinhua
New photos of a prototype FC-31, China’s second type of stealth fighter jet, have been appearing frequently on Chinese social media since May, years after disappearing from the public eye. Now painted in a silver gray coating, its development is making smooth progress, experts said on Monday.
A new set of photos of what seems to be an FC-31 fighter jet on a test flight was posted on Sina Weibo on Saturday. This is not the first time the aircraft has made an appearance recently, as some photos were also posted by another Sina Weibo user on May 18, Shanghai-based news outlet eastday.com reported.
Unlike photos taken in previous years, the FC-31 prototype in the new photos is painted with silver gray coating, eastday.com said. It seems to be an upgraded version with modifications made to its aerodynamic design just like the prototype that made its maiden flight in 2016, instead of the original version that made its public debut at Airshow China in 2014.
The authenticity of the photos, including the time and location they were taken, cannot be verified.
The photos soon sparked heated discussions among military enthusiasts, as they were reposted on forums on military affairs and overseas social media like Twitter.
Fu Qianshao, a Chinese air defense expert, told the Global Times that the new painting could be a sign that the FC-31 was testing its stealth capability and low-observability against the naked eye.
Fu said that while the photos could not show exactly how much progress had been made, the aircraft is confirmed to be conducting new test flights and making significant steps.
Based on the results of the test flights, improved prototypes could be made, Fu said.
Military observers have long speculated that the made-for-export FC-31 could be put into domestic military service. Some claimed an upgraded FC-31 could serve as China’s next-generation carrier-based fighter jet.
The Chinese Air Force, Navy and foreign clients could all be interested in this advanced stealth fighter jet, Fu said, noting that the FC-31 will likely continue its development and be equipped with new engines and devices in the future.
The FC-31 is a single-seat, twin-engine multi-role fighter jet catering to the demands of future battlefield environments. It is 17.3 meters long and has a wingspan of 11.5 meters, according to an info flyer by its maker Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) in 2018.
Source: Global Times “China’s FC-31 stealth fighter jet making new progress, photos show”
Note: This is Global Times’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
The F-22 was a pioneer fifth-generation jet in the US Armed Forces, combining multirole strike capabilities with the ability to stay off most radar screens due to its stealth coating. However, as it turned out, the latter comes at a price both in terms of maintenance time and money.
An F-22 fighter jet, with its low observable (LO; also known as “stealth”) material cracking and chipping on the plane’s nose, was spotted by a reporter with The Drive magazine during the EAA Airventure Air Show in Wisconsin. The photo of the plating right under the canopy reveals how much has it succumbed to corrosion, air friction, and the extreme pressure that the aircraft endures when in flight.
These images of an F-22 Raptor’s crumbling radar absorbent skin are fascinating:
The magazine revealed that these environmental factors are responsible for most of the situations where the stealth material starts peeling off the plane’s hull. The Drive revealed that the maintenance of the LO coating is one of the things that makes using the F-22 highly expensive – around $60,000 per hour.
Not only does it require expensive materials that allow the jet to absorb most radar waves and remain undetected, but also a lot of time to apply it on the F-22’s components, according to the media outlet. In addition, the process must be done under certain environmental conditions, at certain temperatures and humidity levels, in order to be successful, and many US military bases don’t have that luxury. Closed bays with a regulated atmosphere help with this issue, but the number of these is limited at each base.
This all adds up to the relatively low mission capable rate of the jet – only around 50% of the aircraft are ready to carry out sorties. The Drive noted that some of F-22s are deliberately excluded from regular LO coating maintenance, which usually takes place when over 10% of the stealth material is deteriorated. These jets are used for pilot training sessions and air shows, as they don’t require radar protection, the magazine explained. The rest are kept in order to be ready for any mission that arises.
Source: Sputnik “F-22 Stealth Coating Problems Revealed in Stunning Photo”
Note: This is Sputnik’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
M.discuss.com.hk says in its article “A certain elite brigate of Chinese air force has its fighter jets replaced by J-20s; the new planes formally commissioned in operational combat unit!” that an air force regiment well-known as “Wanghai Wing” has formally entered the era of fifth-generation fighter jets as it has now been equipped with J-20s. That means that J-20 has obtained full combat capability and there are a considerable number of them for actual combat.
Though J-20 fighter jets has already commissioned in Chinese air force since 2018, they first entered test and training unites instead of first-line combat units as they were regarded as highly sophisticated rare weapons. Their number was small.
As J-20 production capacity grows, a whole regiment can be equiped with J-20s. According to foreign media’s estimate, more than 50 J-20s will be commissioned in 2019. It is expected that there will be further increase in their number as production has been quickened due to expansion of scale and maturity of technology. Moreover, the commissioning of J-20s in a whole air force regiment means that all systems of J-20 have passed various tests.
Summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the article in Chinese, full text of which in Chinese can be viewed at https://m.discuss.com.hk/index.php?action=thread&tid=28402639.
07:02 AM, June 20, 2019
China displayed a scale-model of its FC-31 stealth fighter jet at the Paris Airshow 2019 with different contours than that of its current prototype triggering speculation that the jet had been upgraded with new features.
“The displayed model shows noteworthy changes in design that could significantly improve its capabilities,” pro-government Global Times noted. The area behind the cockpit and the areas where the two engines are housed are now bulkier and the aerodynamic design has been optimized to further reduce wind resistance, the report noted.
These changes could mean the aircraft has been made more agile and is capable of carrying more fuel, which will give it a larger operational range; it might also carry additional electronic devices for communication or satellite links, the paper said quoting an industry expert.
The upgraded FC-31 might even feature a pair of new engines. The engine nozzles on the FC-31 model displayed in Paris are very different in structure and shape than the ones previously used suggesting more powerful engines.
Despite several years in the making, the J-31 (FC-31 is the designation for the export version), is nowhere near services entry. The first prototype/tech demonstrator flew in 2012. A second prototype with upgrades to its wings, inclusion of IRST sensor and a single piece canopy was shown at the 2014 Zhuhai airshow and its first flight happened only in December 2016.
At that time, it was believed that the design had been frozen and that the aircraft would begin the process of testing its various weapons, communication and stealth features.
Speculation of project delays was rife when the jet did not put up a flying display at the 2018 Zhuhai Air show. However, with new-look mock-up at the ongoing Paris event, possibility of the project skipping timelines of prototype testing and certification cannot be discounted.
Source: defenseworld.net “China Displays ‘Upgraded’ FC-31 Stealth Jet Model at Paris Airshow 2019”
Note: This is defenseworld.net’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
by Eric Baculinao Feb 17 2018, 4:55 am ET
BEIJING — The Chinese New Year began with the traditional lighting of firecrackers on Friday, but the country’s military has been working on incendiaries on an entirely different scale.
Over the past year, the nation that invented gunpowder has been rolling out an array of high-tech weapons that some experts say could threaten the global superiority of the United States.
“The U.S. no longer possesses clear military-technical dominance, and China is rapidly emerging as a would-be superpower in science and technology,” said Elsa B. Kania, an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army “might even cut ahead of the U.S. in new frontiers of military power,” she added.
Despite the recent sharp rhetoric from President Donald Trump, analysts say an open conflict between Beijing and Washing is unlikely. Others dismiss the idea that China might soon outpace the U.S. in military power.
“There is serious self-congratulation and boastfulness about China’s real military ability,” according to Wu Ge, a military analyst and columnist for China’s liberal-leaning Southern Weekly newspaper.
Still, it is clear that significant milestones have been reached by a country that, alongside Russia, is categorized in Trump’s national security strategy as a “revisionist power” — a nation seeking to redefine the world along values contrary to America’s.
Here are five of China’s most eye-grabbing innovations:
1. An electromagnetic railgun
Earlier this month, pictures emerged showing what some experts believed was an electromagnetic railgun mounted on a ship. A Chinese military analyst, Cheng Shuoren, was quoted by the state media as saying it was an engineering feat of “epoch-making significance.”
Instead of explosives, railguns use powerful electromagnets to fire projectiles as far as 100 nautical miles (115 miles) at seven times the speed of sound. This dwarfs the range and speed of conventional guns, whose ammunition can travel only 10 to 20 nautical miles.
That allows a railgun to attack ships, aircraft and land targets with the range and accuracy normally expected from missiles.
The U.S. has tested similar technology but never at sea. If confirmed, the Chinese variant would be the first time such a weapon had been deployed on water.
2. High-tech warships
A potential flashpoint between China and the U.S. lies in the South China Sea. A web of overlapping territorial claims in the energy-rich region has not stopped Beijing from building military facilities on small islands and reefs.
This has coincided with China making serious upgrades to its naval ability. Last summer, it launched its most modern military vessel, the Type 055.
The 12,000-ton stealth guided-missile destroyer, given the code name “Renhai” by NATO, is expected to go into full service this year. It has been built for anti-aircraft, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare and is expected to play an instrumental role in China’s future aircraft-carrier battle formations.
China launches first domestically built aircraft carrier
China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, takes water at Dalian Port in northeast China’s Liaoning province in April 2017. Bei piao / AP
It follows the launch last year of China’s second aircraft carrier, Type 001A. This 65,000-ton vessel is a domestically produced variant of its first carrier, the Liaoning, a retrofitted Soviet model built in 1985. The Type 001A can host 35 aircraft compared to only 24 on the Liaoning, and could enter service by the end of the year according to some analysts.
China is now working on a third carrier, an 80,000-ton vessel dubbed Type 002, that will be able to host more than 40 aircraft and is expected to feature an advanced catapult that can launch heavier jets more quickly.
Some local experts predict China’s strategy of regional strength means it will eventually need four to five carrier battle groups, smaller than the U.S. global strategy that requires 10 to 11 groups.
“China’s naval modernization covers all areas of the fleet, and the speed and scale of it is impressive,” the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank, noted in July.
3. Familiar fighter jets
China last week announced that the Chengdu J-20, its first homemade stealth jet dubbed Black Eagle, had entered combat service, breaking the stealth fighter monopoly of the U.S. and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
An answer to America’s F-22 and F-35, the J-20 is a fifth-generation fighter that can engage targets 120 miles away and deliver precision strikes.
But the similarities between the Chinese aircraft and its American counterparts may not be coincidental. U.S. officials have accused the Chinese military of hacking into their computer systems and stealing information relating to their cutting-edge equipment.
Some experts say that the striking similarities are clear evidence that this stolen know-how has allowed Beijing to play catch-up.
Undeterred, China is now developing its second stealth fighter, the Shenyang J-31 Falcon, which experts say could eventually be deployed on China’s aircraft carriers and compete in the global export market.
Boosting the Chinese Air Force further was the recent successful flight of the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, the AG600 Kunlong, which was designed for maritime rescue but, with a range of 2,800 miles, can play a potentially important role in the South China Sea.
China is also improving its Y-20, the world’s largest military transporter currently in production, by replacing its Russian engines with ones produced at home. With a cargo capacity of 70 tons, it could serve as a carrier of China’s air-launched rocket system.
4. A hypersonic glide vehicle
China carried out the first tests in November of a “hypersonic glide vehicle” named the DF-17, according to The Diplomat, an online magazine covering the Asia-Pacific region.
This medium-range weapon differs from a regular ballistic missile by gliding back to Earth on a slower, flatter trajectory that evades the gaze of radar-enabled U.S. missile defenses.
Neither the U.S. nor Russia are believed to have test-flown this type of technology but both are developing it.
Once deployed, the DF-17 could supplement the DF-21D, a medium-range ballistic missile known as China’s “carrier killer.”
Last year, China also brought into service its latest generation of intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-41, which can carry 10 maneuverable warheads and has a range of 7,500 to 9,300 miles. That capability puts the entire U.S. within range.
5. Artificial Intelligence
Chinese researchers have revealed plans to upgrade the country’s nuclear submarines with artificial intelligence, signaling efforts to tap into military uses for AI.
China unveiled an ambitious plan in July to “lead the world” in this field, with a goal of creating a $150-billion AI industry by 2030.
In the same month, swarm intelligence — the coordinated deployment of autonomous machines — was demonstrated when a state-owned company successfully launched 119 drones that performed formations in the sky.
For the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, said Kania of the Center for a New American Security, effective military applications of artificial intelligence will include cyber and electronic warfare as well as “swarms of drones that might be used to target high-value U.S. weapons platforms, such as aircraft carriers.”
She added that China’s armed forces could also use AI to help them make better decisions on the battlefield.
Source: NBC “These Chinese military innovations threaten U.S. superiority, experts say”
Note: This is NBC’S report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Steve Mollman May 04, 2017
China’s first nuclear submarine was a joke. Launched in the 1970s and now an exhibit in a museum, it was loud, couldn’t fire missiles while submerged, and exposed its crew to high levels of radiation.
But it got the ball rolling. The nation’s modern subs make the US nervous with their technical advances, and China is now constructing the world’s largest submarine factory.
It isn’t just the subs. While China still lags the US badly in some areas, and its exported weapons have had reliability issues, signs abound that its military hardware is either catching up or becoming good enough to pose a real challenge in a potential conflict. A military modernization program pushed by Chinese president Xi Jinping is spurring things along.
“A ship that can fly”
Last week the world’s largest amphibious aircraft made its first taxiing test. The AG600, made by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, is about the size of the Boeing 737 and is designed for marine takeoff and landing (or it can use conventional airstrips). One of its designers describes it as a “ship that can fly.”
The company says the plane will be used for marine rescue missions and fighting forest fires—it can scoop up 12 metric tons (13.2 tons) of water in 20 minutes. But given Beijing’s maritime ambitions in the South China Sea and elsewhere, the plane, with room for 50 passengers and a range of 4,500 km (2,800 miles), can also serve the People’s Liberation Army nicely, including via maritime patrols and troop and supplies transport—in other words, power projection. The hefty plane’s maiden flight over land is scheduled for this month, and over water later this year.
A made-in-China aircraft carrier
For years China has had just one operational aircraft carrier—hardly befitting an emerging maritime power. To make matters worse the Liaoning CV-16 was refitted from a laughably outdated Soviet-era Ukrainian ship. Last week China unveiled its first domestically built carrier at the northeast port of Dalian (see top image). The as-yet-unnamed vessel, to be fully operational in a few years, is technologically well behind its US counterparts. For instance it lacks a catapult to boost planes off the runway (making for inefficient operations) and uses conventional rather than nuclear power. But like China’s early subs, it’s a stepping stone to greater things. A third carrier is already under construction—one that more closely resembles a US carrier.
Stealthy fighter jets
China is making real progress in fighter jets, as evidenced by the J-20 that went into service in March. The supersonic aircraft packs stealth technology, advanced radar and sensor capabilities, and a nifty 360-degree helmet display that lets the pilot see “through” the aircraft itself. It’s also bigger than the US’s F-22 Raptor—to which it’s often compared—allowing it to hold more fuel and travel farther. While it might be stealthy from the front, however, it probably isn’t from the side. But China is testing another advanced fighter jet (the J-31) that does better in the stealth department and will possibly operate from aircraft carriers.
A new spy ship
China launched in January a new electronic spy ship. The CNS Kaiyangxing, or Mizar, is capable of conducting all-weather, round-the-clock reconnaissance on multiple targets. During its unveiling, China shared an unusual amount of detail about the ship and the rest of its small intelligence fleet, now at about a half dozen vessels (the US has at least 15). That openness was probably for the deterrence factor: Beijing wants other navies know to that, should they operate in disputed waters, its forces will be able to detect them. Vessels like this one lack firepower but can be more dangerous than warships.
A (really) long-range air-to-air missile
Being able to hit enemy aircraft in a combat zone is expected. From well outside that zone? That’s a useful bonus. In January the state-run China Daily reported on a new, long-range air-to-air missile that could, a Chinese military researcher speculated, hit high-value targets like early-warning aircraft from up to 400 km (249 miles) away. That would be far better than China’s current range of less than 100 km for such missiles. It would also outdo US capabilities in that department—one where China might actually be in the lead.
Source: Quartz Media “China’s military tech is becoming less of a joke and more of a threat”
Note: This is Quartz Media’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
According to LLM75 of cjdby.net, a few days ago, China conducted another test flight of its second improved prototype of FC-31 (J-31) stealth fighter jet it has been developing. The website has provided the above two photos of the test flight. However, so far there has been no news about its future for export or deployment at home.
Source: huanqiu.com “One more test flight of the greatly improved version of FC31 fighter jet” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)