Chinese Aviation Industry Milestones In 2013 Review

In the year 2013 many of China's new military aviation projects appeared, so it was very exciting for all the  followers of the PLAAF . Although there weren't as many news coming out this year about J-20 and J-31 stealth fighters, many other projects really came out and took center stage.

Y-20 - Although we started see pictures of Y-20 performing low speed taxiing late last year, it did not make it's maiden flight until late January of this year. The second Y-20 prototype made its maiden flight very recently. It looks like this program is progressing well so far. PLAAF is desperate for something like Y-20 to not only do the role of strategic transport but also as the platform for next generation AWACS (and other C4ISR roles), large aerial tanker and airborne laser platform. It has been forced to purchase a number of refurbished IL-76s from Russia in the past couple of years as a stop gap until Y-20 comes into service in 3 to 5 years. I think there is a chance that they will also purchase some new built IL-476 since the production rate for Y-20 is likely to be low in the beginning. In my opinion, this is the most important aviation project for PLA.

J-20/J-31 - It has been a less eventful year for the 5th generation projects. Many of us expect the prototype 2003 to come out this year, but we were disappointed for most of the year (although there is some recent photo that indicate 2003 might be ready). It looks like major improvements are to be made in this third prototype, whereas the first 2 are probably more like technology demonstrators. J-31 has been making some more test flights, but it's not known at the moment what exact role it will have for PLAAF. Similar to J-20, this first prototype is probably more like a technology demonstrator while 601 Institute works on creating a prototype that satisifies all of PLAAF requirements.

Flanker family - While rumours about Su-35 purchase continues unabated, we do know that J-15 project has moved to production stage this year. We are still waiting to see production version of J-15 to appear on CV-16. That will probably happen next year. It looks like J-16 project is also moving toward a first pre-production batch. J-11B/S production has continued this year, but will probably be replaced by J-16 very soon. At which point, J-15 will be produced for the naval aviation and J-16 will be for the air force. J-16 and J-10B are likely to be the main multirole fighters in PLAAF until the 5th generation aircraft enters service.

Chengdu Aircraft Industry Developing More Advanced J-10C Fighter

The J-10B fighter jet — the upgrade version of China's J-10A fighter — recently entered service with the People's Liberation Army Air Force(PLAAF), while its designer Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group is already working on the more advanced version J-10C.
Equipped with an active electronically scanned array radar, the J-10B has the capability to take out Japan's F-15J fighters if an aerial confrontation were to occur over the disputed Diaoyutai islands (called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China) in the East China Sea. The fighter is also built with radar absorbent material and better diverterless supersonic inlet(DSI), while its stealth capability has also been increased compared to its predecessor, the J-10A.

J-10B Fighter Jet
J-10B Fighter Jet
China is the only nation in the world which has the ability to build its own diverterless supersonic inlet(DSI) other than the United States of America, the report said. With this technology, the J-10B is believed to be the best 4.5 generation fighter in the Asia-Pacific region. Its helmet-mounted display system designed for J-10B pilots reacts very fast and it is also very similar to the US-built F-16E/F Block 60 and French-built Rafale.

China's New Stealth Fighters J-23 and J-25 Revealed

The J-20 and J-31, China's first two stealth fighter Designs, are still in the developmental stages, however secrets regarding the nation's other two fifth generation fighters, the J-23 and J-25, have been revealed on Chinese military websites(Chinese Internet).
The J-23 fighter, designed by the Shenyang Aviation Corporation, is no longer an aircraft based on Russian technology, the report said. Shenyang Aviation Corporation has instead chosen to model the J-23 based on the F-22 Raptor of the United States Air Force as it will provide the People's Liberation Army Air Force or Navy Air Force a better chance to combat American fighters in a potential or a future conflict with America(USA).
According to the leaked news report, the J-23 has a longer fuselage and two v-shape vertical tails which look very similar to the ones used by the F-22 Raptor. If China is able to introduce a 117-S thrust vector control engine from Russia or develop it by itself, the maneuverability of J-23 will also be enhanced gradually, the report said.
China's military has yet to provide details on the development of the J-23, however some political and military analysts, said that the J-23 fighter has already been used in military drills as an enemy aircraft due to its similar appearance to the F-22 Raptor.

China Conducts First Test Flight OF Z-20 Helicopter

 China Conducts First Successful Test Flight OF Z-20 Helicopter.Z-20 is a new general purpose transport helicopter in 10+ ton  class developed for the People Liberation Army.It was speculated to be based on American S-70C currently still in service with PLA but also shares some common features with Z-10.

Z-20 Helicopter
Z-20 Helicopter

China Conducts Test Firing OF Newly Developed DF-41 ICBM

China’s military conducts the second flight test firing of its newest long-range missile(DF-41) that is capable of hitting targets in the United States with a nuclear warhead, according to defense officials.

The flight test of the new Dong Feng-41, or DF-41, took place Friday from the Wuzhai missile launch center in Shanxi province to an impact range in western China, said officials familiar with details of the tests.

It was the second test of the new, road-mobile, long-range ICBM that U.S. intelligence agencies assess will be outfitted with up to 10 multiple, independently-targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs.

Prior to Friday’s flight test, the last DF-41 flight test took place in mid of 2012.
Pentagon spokesmen did not return emails seeking comment on the missile test.
The most recent test indicates that China’s long-range missile development is continuing, and the missile is raising new concerns about China’s professed nuclear doctrine of not being the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict.

Disclosure of the nuclear missile flight test comes as tensions remain heightened between the United States and China over the near collision between the USS Cowpens, a guided missile cruiser, and a Chinese navy tank landing ship in the South China Sea on Dec. 5.

The State Department and Pentagon protested the incident, which involved the Chinese ship stopping in the path of the Cowpens, forcing the cruiser to make an abrupt maneuver to avoid a collision. The incident took place near China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
The DF-41, with its range of between 6,835 miles and 7,456 miles and expected multiple-warhead capability, is viewed as a potential “first strike” weapon, or a weapon capable of carrying out a surprise nuclear attack that would knock out an enemy’s arsenal and limit its counter strike capability.

A report by the Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center made public in May referred to China’s development of a new long-range missile with multiple warheads, in addition to current long-range DF-31 and DF-31 A mobile ICBMs.

US Air Force Plans To Arm Sixth Generation Fighters With Laser Weapons

The Pentagon wants to put high-powered lasers on its fleet of fighter jets in the not-so-distant future to ensure that enemies of the United States don’t stand a chance against America’s state-of-the-art arsenal.

A request for information document posted by the US Air Force on the Federal Business Opportunities website last week indicates that the Department of Defense is already interested in acquiring weaponry that would be used on next-generation aircraft years down the road in anti-access and area denial, or A2/AD, environments in order to safeguard certain interests.

6th generation fighter
6th generation fighter

“The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is requesting information describing concepts for airborne laser systems for future air dominance platforms,” the request begins. “The emphasis of this effort is to identify potential laser systems that could be integrated into a platform that will provide air dominance in the 2030+
highly contested Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environment.”

According to the November 15 request, of particular interest to the Pentagon are laser systems that would be at a technology readiness level of at least category 4 by next October and ready to be demonstrated at a level of TRL 5 or higher by 2022. The DoD’s own rubric with regards to TRL criteria indicates that the Air
Force intends to have a laser system in under a decade where “The basictechnological components are integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements so they can be tested in a simulated environment.” 

Y-20 Second Prototype Makes Its First Flight

Y-20 Second Prototype
Y-20 Second Prototype

Mass Production OF J-10B Starts For PLAAF



China To Built Two More Aircraft Carriers Between 2014 To 2015

China will construct two conventionally powered aircraft carriers in Dalian and Shanghai between 2014 and 2015, a source from China's Central Military Commission has told.
Under the Commission's Project 048, China aims to establish three carrier battle groups by 2020 so that all three major fleets of the PLA Navy will be able to carry out missions with the full support of an aircraft carrier. The two new Type 001A indigenous carriers will be updated versions of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was originally a Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier purchased from Ukraine in 1998. They will also likely be designed with a ski-jump ramp.
Sources said that the General Equipment Department of the PLA has already signed a contract with the Beijing-based China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation to build the two carriers. The price of the two vessels is estimated to be worth US$9 billion.

Russian Media Says China's Lijian Is A Copy of Russian Stealth Drone Design

After China's first stealth combat drone, the Lijian, completed its first test flight on Nov. 21, the Moscow-based "Military Parade" stated that the drone — designed jointly by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation and Hongdu Aviation Industry Group — is in fact a copy of a Russian design.
The Lijian's 20-minute test flight was completed at an unknown test center located in southwestern China. Photos of the new drone first appeared on the Chinese military website in May this year, with the US-based Strategy Page reporting that the People's Liberation Army may have released the images to demonstrate its military muscle.

China Lijian stealth combat drone
China Lijian stealth combat drone
China is catching up slowly with the United States and Israel in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the US-based Aviation Week said. Taking the Lijian, Wing Loong and CH-4 as examples, the report stated China is able to design and produce various types of drones including hand-launched miniature UAVs and larger long-range reconnaissance drones.
However, the Russian based "Military Parade" claims that China copied the design of Russia's Mikoyan Skat drone. It said the Lijian may employ a RD-93, the upgrade version of the Klimov RD-33 engine equipped by the Skat, as it is widely used in aircraft developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

Taiwan Developing Weapons Capable UCAV

Taiwan's military is developing a weapons-capable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with some stealth capabilities at the Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, an official at the institute said
This will be the first armed UAV from the military-run research center, which has developed various tactical drones for surveillance and reconnaissance that cannot carry weapons, according to the source familiar with the institute's project, who requested anonymity.
Unlike previous models, the drone under development boasts short wings, stealth features and a weapons cabin that can carry missiles and bombs, the official said.
"The new UAV would be able to evade radar detection as its body is made from radar-absorbent materials," the official added.

Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology
Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology
The revelation came on the sidelines of a defense technology exhibition at Taoyuan County Stadium.
A dazzling array of high-tech devices and equipment developed in civilian and military collaborative projects are on display.
Exhibits featured at the Dec. 6-7 event include a variety of UAVs, Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles — also known as Brave Wind III — and Tien Kung III air defense missiles —also known as Sky Bow III — as well as sophisticated devices in the fields of aerospace and green technology.

China Lead The Race To Develop World's First Invisibility Cloak

Scientists on the mainland say they are increasingly confident of developing the world’s first practical invisibility cloak, using technology to hide objects from view and make them “disappear’’.

At least 40 research teams have been funded by the central government over the past three years to develop the idea, which in recent decades has largely been the stuff of science fiction and fantasy novels like the Harry Potter series than science fact.

The technology would have obvious military uses, such as developing stealth aircraft, but Beijing believes the research could lead to wider technological breakthroughs with broader uses, scientists involved in the research said.

The teams involved include researchers at Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The main approaches are developing materials that guide light away from an object; creating electromagnetic fields to bend light away from what you are trying to hide, plus copying nature to make high-tech camouflage materials.

A team led by professor Chen Hongsheng at Zhejiang University released a video earlier this month demonstrating a device that made fish invisible. The same technology also made a cat “disappear’’.

The device was made of a hexagonal array of glass panels, which bends light around the object, making it disappear from view.

Other teams on the mainland have made similar breakthroughs during their research. Professor Ma Yungui, an optical engineering scientist who also works at Zhejiang University, said his team would soon announce their latest finding: a device that stops objects being detected by heat sensors or metal detectors.

Ma’s device is as large as a match box, but it could be increased in size to allow weapons to pass through security checkpoints. Another potential application is to stop special agents or troops moving at night being caught by infrared cameras.

“Many people have asked me if the technology can be applied on fighter jets so they can get heat-seeking missiles off the tail. Well, we may work on that,’’ he said.

Ma said a useable, practical invisibility cloak might still be decades away as it needed super-materials that could not be produced with current technology, but the central government was still pouring funds into research because the theoretical knowledge gained could produce so many potential spinoffs.

Ma said his team had received funding from the government to develop an invisibility cloak and their device was a byproduct of their research.

“I went to an international forum on invisibility study in Paris last year and found that at least a third of the researchers came from mainland China,” Ma said. “It seems easy to get funds these days. You ask for it, you get it.’’

US Air Force Has Secretly Built RQ-180 a New Stealth Drone

The unmanned drone, dubbed RQ-180, is currently in the testing phase at the top secret Groom Lake air base in Nevada -- the infamous "Area 51" where the Air Force tested the U2 spy planes in the late 1950s, Aviation Week said.
The Air Force refused to comment when contacted by AFP. The new aircraft was reportedly built by Northrop Grumann, the company behind the Global Hawk and the X-47B drones, which landed on air craft carriers for the first time this summer.

The US company may have obtained in 2008 a secret contract on the order of $2 billion to develop the latest drone, according to Aviation Week.

An artistic rendering of the RQ-180 on the cover of the magazine shows a craft with striking resemblance to the X-47B, in particular in lack of rear stabilizer and its so-called "batwing" shape.
It was developed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, but "could also be capable of electronic attack missions," the magazine said.

"It is similar in size and endurance to the Global Hawk," which can fly for 24 hours up to 1,200 nautical miles (2,000 kilometers) from its base.

A first generation of unmanned aircraft, the non-stealthy Reapers and Global Hawks, were used in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they were deemed too vulnerable in enemy territory equipped with powerful anti-aircraft defenses.Now the Air Force is slowly turning to stealth drones, better at passing safely over unfriendly territory.

In December 2011, a spy drone that had until then been secret, the RQ-170 Sentinel, crashed 155 miles (250 kilometers) inside Iranian air space.

JF-17 Fighter Jet At Dubai Airshow

JF-17 Fighter Jet At Dubai Airshow
  A FC-1/JF-17 fighter with its weapons, which is the result of a joint China-Pakistan development programme, is seen during the Dubai Airshow in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

US Navy Deploys New P-8A Surveillance Aircraft to Japan

The US Navy has deployed sophisticated surveillance aircraft to Japan, officials said Monday, amid rising tension over China's territorial claims in the region.
Two P-8A Poseidon patrol jets departed Jacksonville, Florida on Friday and arrived later at Kadena air base in Okinawa, in a move that was planned before Beijing declared an air defense zone last month covering disputed islands in the East China Sea, a navy official told AFP.
"This was scheduled for a long time," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity."It's a rotational deployment."Four more Poseidon aircraft are due to deploy at Okinawa later this month, the official said.
The assignment to Japan marks the first mission for the new plane, which is replacing the propeller-driven P-3 Orion aircraft that dates back to the 1960s.

US Navy P-8A
US Navy P-8A
The P-8A planes, converted Boeing 737s equipped with advanced radar and anti-ship missiles, are designed to hunt submarines and track other vessels at sea.
On November 23, China announced an expanded air defense identification zone and said aircraft would have to submit flight plans before entering the area, home to disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States have each sent planes into the zone without informing the Chinese, signalling their refusal to recognize Beijing's declaration.

Disqus Shortname

Comments system