America’s F-22 stealth fighter may be limited in Asia-Pacific conditions, China’s J-20 designer says


  • Aircraft has been sent to the region but was designed for combat in Europe, which could affect its capabilities, according to Yang Wei
  • China’s answer to the Raptor has yet to be put to the test in a real combat situation, military expert notes
F-22 Raptors fly above Syria in 2018. A top Chinese aircraft designer says the US stealth fighters were designed for combat in Europe and could face challenges in the Asia-Pacific. Photo: EPA-EFE / US Air Force

America’s F-22 Raptor stealth fighter was designed for combat in Europe but is now being used in the Asia-Pacific, according to a top Chinese aircraft designer, who says the different conditions will limit its capabilities there.

Yang Wei, general designer of China’s first stealth fighter the J-20, said the twin-engine F-22s could face the same challenges in the region as the F-4 fighter-bombers the Pentagon sent to the Vietnam war between 1965 and 1973.

“The complex environment and political constraints in Vietnam caused the F-4 to almost fail to show its high-speed performance and over-the-horizon combat capabilities,” Yang wrote in a paper published in Chinese aeronautics journal Acta Aeronautica et Astronautica Sinica last month.

He said the F-22, a tactical fighter inspired by the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union, was designed for battle in Europe and could face similar problems now that it had been deployed in the Asia-Pacific.

The J-20, China’s first stealth fighter, went into service in 2017. Photo: Xinhua
The J-20, China’s first stealth fighter, went into service in 2017. Photo: Xinhua
Yang did not draw any

comparisons between America’s F-22 and China’s J-20

– both fifth-generation, twin-engine heavy fighter jets and of a similar size.

But military experts said his remarks indicated that the J-20 Weilong, or Powerful Dragon, was clearly seen as China’s answer to the F-22.
“The F-22 was originally designed for combat with the former Soviet Union, or today’s Russia, in Europe, but now the Raptor’s main opponent is the [People’s Liberation Army] in the Asia-Pacific,” Song said.
Powerful Dragon v Raptor: how China’s J-20 stealth fighters compare with America’s F-22sPowerful Dragon v Raptor: how China’s J-20 stealth fighters compare with America’s F-22s

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Powerful Dragon v Raptor: how China’s J-20 stealth fighters compare with America’s F-22s

The F-22 has a comparatively shorter range – with a combat radius of 800km (497 miles), while the J-20’s large internal fuel tank can sustain a longer combat radius of 1,100km (684 miles).

But Beijing-based military expert Zhou Chenming noted that the J-20, which entered service in 2017, had yet to be put to the test in a real combat situation.

Andrei Chang, founder of influential military magazine Kanwa Asian Defence, said that in contrast, the F-22’s combat capabilities had been seen, most recently last year when the stealth fighters were sent to Qatar as tensions rose with Iran.
Washington’s hardened position on Beijing’s claims in South China Sea heightens US-China tensionsWashington’s hardened position on Beijing’s claims in South China Sea heightens US-China tensions

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Washington’s hardened position on Beijing’s claims in South China Sea heightens US-China tensions

“At the moment China has about 60 J-20s – just one-third of the total number of F-22s,” said the source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

“Now the US has deployed hundreds of F-35s to the region, so it’s an even bigger threat to China,” he added.

With F-22s being deployed to the Asia-Pacific region – and as relations worsen with Washington, including over the

disputed South China Sea

– Beijing has stepped up development of its new stealth fighter. Mass production of the J-20B

began earlier this month

.

Source: SCMP “America’s F-22 stealth fighter may be limited in Asia-Pacific conditions, China’s J-20 designer says”

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


Behold, The Stealth Fighter China Could Have Had


David Axe, Contributor Jul 21, 2020,03:30pm EDT

The Shenyang Snow Owl scale model. CCTV VIA ALERT 5

A fleeting shot in a Chinese documentary reveals, for the first time, the shape of the stealth-fighter design that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force rejected in favor of the Chengdu J-20.

A scale model of the Shenyang Snow Owl made a brief appearance in China Central Television’s documentary series Memory of the Military Industry, according to aviation blog Alert 5.

The Snow Owl is a three-wing design with canards, a delta-shape wing and horizontal stabilizers. The three-wing layout reportedly made the Snow Owl highly maneuverable, but at the cost of stealth. The edges of wings are major sources of radar reflectivity.

J-31. CHINESE INTERNET

Despite the PLAAF’s rejection, it seems Shenyang didn’t entirely abandon the Snow Owl design. The company’s J-31 export fighter looks a lot like the Snow Owl, minus the canards. Shenyang has built at least two J-31 prototypes but has yet to find a buyer for the type.

The Snow Owl is an artifact of a period of explosive growth in China’s warplane industry. In addition to producing J-20s, the Chinese aerospace industry is working on as many as four new radar-evading types—potentially the H-20 bomber, the J-18 jump jet, the JF-XX fighter-bomber plus an unspecified fighter type.

But American stealth aircraft still outnumber their Chinese rivals. As of early 2020, there were a little over 700 low-observable warplanes in all the world. Around half of the stealth planes are F-35s—and most of those are American. U.S. Air Force F-22s account for another quarter of the global fleet.

Source: Forbes “Behold, The Stealth Fighter China Could Have Had”

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


Reports Say China Has a New Jet Fighter in the Works. Here’s What We Know.


While technically "new," the jet is likely something we’ve seen before.
china economy aviation

JOHANNES EISELEGetty Images
  • Numerous indicators suggest a new Chinese fighter jet will fly for the first time in 2021.
  • The jet could well be a production version of the J-31 technology demonstrator.
  • The jet will likely operate from land and China’s new fleet of aircraft carriers.

Reports indicate China is set to show off a new fighter jet next year, though it will likely be a familiar sight to Chinese military watchers. Growing indicators point to a fighter jet, likely a revamped, combat-ready version of the FC-31 fighter plane, making an appearance in 2021.

One such indicator was brought to light by the aviation blog Alert 5, which highlighted a post by the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment on social media. The blog states:

The article said its personnel was (sic) sent to Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute or 601 Institute and the 29th Research Institute of the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) during COVID-19 to support the aircraft’s development work.

According to Alert 5, CAE used the characters 新一代 to represent “new generation” fighter. “The aircraft could either be a new variant of an existing airframe or a total new design,” the blog says. “However, it is of note that if its a new design, it would have been written as 新型 in Mandarin.”

The “new fighter” rumor was also picked up by China’s nationalistic, often fiery Global Times site, which also referred to the CAE post. According to Global Times, the social media post was later deleted without explanation. A Chinese aviation expert interviewed by the site believes the fighter is designed to operate from China’s fleet of aircraft carriers.
china economy growth
A model of the J-31 at the Beijing International Aviation Expo, September 2015.

WANG ZHAOGetty Images
The leading contender for the new fighter, currently referred to as “J-35,” is a production-ready version of Shenyang FC-31 technology demonstrator. Developed in China, the FC-31 (also known as the J-31) is considered a “fifth-generation” fighter built with stealth in mind and bears a strong resemblance to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. In 2019, FlightGlobal reported the FC-31’s developers believed the jet was progressing well and the aircraft was, “destined to enter service with the People’s Liberation Army.”
maks 2017 international aviation and space salon
Klimov RD-33 engine at the MAKS-2017 International Aviation and Space Salon, Moscow, 2017.

Anadolu AgencyGetty Images
The FC-31 was first unveiled in 2012 but never put into mass production. It’s not clear why though it likely has to do with China’s inability to make jet engines. The FC-31 was originally powered by Klimov RD-33 engines, the same engines that power Russia’s MiG-29 fighter jet. Although China has made great strides in manufacturing aircraft, it has struggled with designing high-performance afterburning turbofan engines, especially subfields such as metallurgy.
j 31 fighter
A image of the J-31 dated to the 2014 Zhuhai Air Show, showing the jet’s single large payload bay.

Photo by Dickson Lee/South China Morning PostGetty Images
Russia prefers to sell entire fighter jets instead of individual jet engines, a policy that increases its profit. An inability to source Russian engines might have made mass production of the jet impossible. If the new jet is indeed a revamped FC-31, it could indicate China is confident it can reliably manufacture its own high-performance jet engines.
china hainan sanya shandong aircraft carrier cn
J-15 fighters on the flight deck of China’s second aircraft carrier, Shandong.

Xinhua News AgencyGetty Images
Experts believe that the J-35 will likely be a carrier aircraft to supplement and eventually replace the J-15 “Flying Shark” fighter. A large, heavy, twin-engine fighter, the J-15 traces its origins to the Soviet Su-33 carrier-based fighter. Unfortunately, the fighter’s weight— coupled with the need to launch the aircraft from the ski ramps—severely restricts the J-15’s range and ability to carry fuel and weapons.

China’s two first generation carriers, Liaoning and Shandong, are equipped with ski ramps instead of catapults. The country’s first second-generation carrier, tentatively named 003, is expected to feature catapults. The J-35 is probably optimized for 003 and will likely never fly from Liaoning and Shandong. Experts believe China will ultimately build and operate anywhere from four to six carriers.

momentforever china pla 90th birthday cn
China’s J-20 heavy fighter.

Xinhua News AgencyGetty Images

Fighter jets are expensive to develop, and China will likely try to get its money’s worth by buying jets not only for carrier but also land-based use. Many major air forces use a combination of expensive, heavy, twin engine fighter jets supplemented by larger numbers of cheaper, lighter, multi-role fighter jets. The U.S. Air Force, for example, flies both the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Russia flies the Su-35 Flanker-E supplemented by the MiG-29/35. China flies a combination of the J-20 twin engine fighter supplemented by the J-10 “Vigorous Dragon.” The J-10, while a capable plane, is a fourth-generation fighter with a non-stealthy design. The J-35 could replace earlier J-10 fighters and eventually the entire J-10 fleet.

The U.S. Air Force is the only air force in the world that operates both a large and small fifth-generation stealth fighter. If the new jet is indeed the J-35 and China builds large numbers of them, it will create a Chinese air force to be reckoned with.

Source: Popular Mechanics “Reports Say China Has a New Jet Fighter in the Works. Here’s What We Know”

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


Sukhoi Su-57, Russia’s 5th Generation stealth fighter with 6th Generation technology?


Sukhoi Su-57, the 5th Generation Russian combat aircraft, also uses technologies being developed for the 6th Generation fighters making it a “breakthrough” platform. The Su-57, which is already in service with the Russian Aerospace Force, is the first 5th Generation fighter developed and operationalised by Russia.

Written By:

Zee Media Bureau

Updated: Jun 08, 2020, 13:16 PM IST

Sukhoi Su-57, the 5th Generation Russian combat aircraft, also uses technologies being developed for the 6th Generation fighters making it a “breakthrough” platform. The Su-57, which is already in service with the Russian Aerospace Force, is the first 5th Generation fighter developed and operationalised by Russia.

While the Russian authorities have not revealed many of the technical specifications of the Su-57, according to Chinese news portal Sohu, the Sukhoi fighter has the capability of an unmanned piloting mode and artificial-intelligence combat. The two features make the Su-57 a fighter which also incorporates 6th Generation technology.

The Sohu article mentions that Russia has made a “breakthrough” by using 6th Generation technologies in the Sukhoi-built jet. The unmanned pilot mode can allow the Su-57 to undergo extreme g force not possible in the current fighters in service with the air forces around the world. Most modern fighters can take up to 9g force but the pilot’s reaction becomes extremely slow in such a situation whereas an unmanned version of a fighter plane can take much more stress.

Russian defence officials have claimed that the unmanned version of Su-57 can withstand up to 15g stress. According to Russia’s Sputniknews.com, the development of the unpiloted mode of Su-57 fighter is already under progress.

“The T-50 (Sukhoi’s internal name for the Su-57) flying laboratory is testing an unpiloted mode. A pilot is in the cockpit during a flight but is just controlling the operation of all systems,” Sputniknews had quoted a defence source as saying on May 16, 2020.

China has its own 5th Generation fighter Chengdu J-20 which is in service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, the developer of J-20, is also working on an unmanned version of the fighter. The first stealth fighter to enter service was the F-22 Raptor of the United States of America which also has operationalised the F-35 Lightning II, its second 5th Generation combat jet.

Along with stealth capabilities, the Su-57 claims to have supercruise, supermaneuverability and advanced avionics. A total of 76 Su-57 jets have been ordered for the Russian Aerospace Force and a few of them have already been delivered.

Source: zeenews.india.com “Sukhoi Su-57, Russia’s 5th Generation stealth fighter with 6th Generation technology?”

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


Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighter to possibly enter service in the PLA Navy


June News 2020 Navy Naval Maritime Defense Industry

Posted On Monday, 08 June 2020 14:29

Photos of the Shenyang J-31 twin-engine fifth-generation fighter jet, have been frequently released on Chinese social media since May, leading to considerable speculation that the aircraft could be set to enter service in the PLA sometime this year. Now painted in a silver-grey coating, its development is making smooth progress, experts said on Monday.

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Shenyang J-31 twin-engine fifth-generation fighter jet (Picture source: Chinese Internet)

After China’s FC-31 stealth fighter jet appeared in the most recent pilot recruitment video for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, speculations increased that the aircraft could become China’s next-generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet.

According to the website of the PLA Navy’s pilot recruitment program, pilot cadets will study five years before graduation. In these five years, the FC-31, which is still under development, could complete the necessary upgrades and join the PLA Navy.

China reportedly plans to develop a carrier-capable variant of its J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighter and/or a carrier-capable variant of its FC-31 fifth-generation stealth fighter to complement or succeed the J-15 on catapult-equipped Chinese carriers.

About the FC-31:

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.

The Shenyang FC-31 provides extraordinary manoeuvrability, stealth features, and an internal weapons bay, besides superior avionics and sensors providing enhanced situational awareness, improved radar tracking and targeting capabilities and integrated electronic-warfare systems.

The FC-31 is being manufactured by Peoples Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, an affiliate of Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

The development of the FC-31 goes on, and modifications are likely to be made based on test flights, including the installation of new engines and other devices.

Source: Navy Reconition “Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighter to possibly enter service in the PLA Navy”

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


China’s FC-31 stealth fighter jet making new progress, photos show


By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/25 18:18:16

Photo FC-31

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.


F-22 Stealth Coating Problems Revealed in Stunning Photo


19:48 01.08.2019https://sptnkne.ws/8QZm

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.

Tyler Rogoway
‏@Aviation_Intel
These images of an F-22 Raptor’s crumbling radar absorbent skin are fascinating:

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.

F22 Raptor & F35 Lightning II . CC BY-SA 2.0 / Airwolfhound / F22 Raptor & F35 Lightning II

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.


Elite Wing of Chinese Air Force Fully Equipped with J-20s


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.


China Displays ‘Upgraded’ FC-31 Stealth Jet Model at Paris Airshow 2019


Our Bureau

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.


These Chinese military innovations threaten U.S. superiority, experts say


The J-20 is China’s first homemade stealth jet. CCP/ColorChinaPhoto / AP file

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

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.