Russia Unveils New Helicopter Carrier Designs

A St. Petersburg navy design bureau says it is ready to build a Russian-made alternative to the troubled Mistral carriers, which remain moored in France. The intended new ship dubbed Lavina (‘Avalanche’) promises to be bigger and faster than the Mistrals.
The technical specifications of the helicopter carrier were revealed in a presentation given by the Krylov State Research Centre, at the Army-2015 military expo near Moscow. 

Lavina will have a full load displacement of 24,000 tons, as opposed to 21,300 tons for the French-designed ship. It will also have a maximum speed of 22 knots, compared to 19 knots for the Mistrals, two of which were ordered by the Russian Navy four years ago. 

The Lavina design
The Lavina design

Just like the Mistral, Lavina will house 16 helicopters, about 50 armored vehicles (about 10 fewer than the French amphibious assault vessel) and a potential six smaller boats, as opposed to the Mistrals' four. All figures are likely rough estimates, with numerous variables, and it is unclear how advanced the Lavina blueprints are at the current stage.
The two Mistral-class ships, custom-built for Russia for a price of €1.2 billion, have been completed, but their delivery has been suspended by France, following Crimea’s accession into Russia last March, and the outbreak of violence in eastern Ukraine. 

Domestic shipbuilders are competing to fill the gap. 

Earlier this week, Priboy, a 14,000-ton helicopter carrier, also capable of transporting 16 attack helicopters, was announced by Nevsky Design Bureau, another leading St. Petersburg design bureau. It said that plans were afoot to begin construction next year.

Last week, the Yantar shipyard also reportedly began construction of a smaller Ivan Gren-class assault vessel, which the Navy said would be ready by 2018.

Israel and Pakistan Bolster Second Strike Capability With AIP Subs

Israel does not trust Iran just as Pakistan does not trust India. While Israel is preparing for eventual nuclear-armed Iran in the future, Pakistan is threatened by India's growing nuclear triad and atomic arsenal today. So what are Israel and Pakistan doing to deter potential nuclear attacks by their regional rivals? They are both building sea-based nuclearsecond strike capability with diesel-electric submarines equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP).

Israel's Submarine Fleet:

Israel has just taken delivery of the 5th of 6 Dolphin II class AIP-equipped submarines built by Germany. More than 225 feet long, the diesel-electric Dolphin II class is part attack submarine, part nuclear strike ship and part commando taxi. Each sub has 10 tubes. Four of these tubes are larger 26-inch tubes—the size is rare for a Western-built submarine—capable of launching small commando teams or firing larger nuclear-capable cruise missiles. The remaining six tubes measure at 21 inches

Several German defense ministry officials interviewed by German news magazine Der Spiegel believe that Israel intends for these submarines to carry nuclear weapons. The missiles can also be launched “using a previously secret hydraulic ejection system,” the magazine reported.

Diesel-Electric AIP Vs Nuclear-Powered Subs:

A key requirement for submarines is to be stealthy—and the Dolphin II is indeed very quiet. The trick is in the submarine’s air-independent propulsion fuel cells, which provide power under the surface as the diesel engines—used for running on the surface—rest and recharge. This system is quieter than the nuclear-powered engines on American and Russian submarines, which must constantly circulate engine coolant. Nuclear submarines are virtually unlimited in terms of range, and are better used for deep-water operations. But Israel has no need for nuclear-powered subs when quiet diesel subs can do the same job, according to Real Clear Defense.

Pakistan's AIP Submarine Fleet:

The details of Pakistan's planned submarine fleet are not clear yet. However, Pakistan too is acquiring a fleet of AIP-equipped diesel-electric submarines.

Pakistan Navy operates a fleet of five diesel-electric submarines and three MG110 miniature submarines (SSI). The nucleus of the fleet includes two Agosta-70 and three modern Agosta-90B submarines. Pakistan's third Agosta-90B, the S 139 Hamza, was constructed indigenously and features the DCNS MESMA (Module d'EnergieSous-Marin Autonome) air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. Pakistan retrofitted the two earlier Agosta-90B vessels with the MESMA AIP propulsion system when they underwent overhaul in 2011, according to Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Pakistan is expanding and modernizing its underwater fleet with 8 additional AIP-equipped submarines ordered from China. Whether the Chinese submarines are the S-20 export derivative of the Type-039A/Type-041 Yuan-class submarine, or a bespoke design, is unclear. But the Yuan has also been mentioned, and according to government officials. If the deal transpires, it will be the largest ever Sino-Pakistani deal. He believes the submarines will each cost $ 250 million to $325 million.

Mansoor Ahmed of Quaid-e-Azam University's Department of Defense and Strategic Studies told Defense News that AIP-equipped conventional submarines "provide reliable second strike platforms, [and] an assured capability resides with [nuclear-powered attack and nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines], which are technically very complex and challenging to construct and operate compared to SSKs, and also very capital intensive."

Balance of Terror as Deterrence:

Let's hope that nuclear deterrence works and the world never again sees the use of the growing stockpile of nukes in South Asia, the Middle East or anywhere else. Here's the full video of a recent interview with Pakistan's General Khalid Kidawi on Pakistan 2nd strike capability:

AVIC Presents FC-31 Stealth Fighter model to Pakistan Air Force

Mr Li Yuhai Executive Vice President of AVIC presents FC-31 model visiting Pakistani CAS Air Marshal Suhail Aman.


Technically ill-matched Indian Air Force losing ground to PAF

Defense PSU HAL has been unable to properly maintain, update or equip IAF with the essentials needed to put forth a respectable challenge for the rival Pakistan Air Force. Inadequate training also provided to rookie pilots is also one of the main reasons the Indian Air Force is heading towards decline, as far as maintaining standards is concerned.

On Tuesday morning, the dismal condition of IAF further came to light when a Jaguar fighter crashed 13 km east of Allahabad. Fortunately, the two pilots were able to eject themselves and escape the ordeal. The hapless condition of IAF can be judged from the fact that it is down to 35 squadrons, with some of them existing only on paper.
This was the sixth fighter IAF jet to crash since January of this year, a stat that should ring alarm bells for India. India’s hostile neighbour Pakistan has one of the best air forces in the world and so does China. India is involved in border disputes and has militarily been confronted by both Pakistan and China in the past. The IAF has a battle on its hands with its fast-depleting fighter strength, which will progressively get worse with the virtually obsolete MiG-21s and MiG-27s headed for long-delayed retirement.

Jf-17 Thunder
Jf-17 Thunder

Whilst the Chinese have almost three times the number of fighter jets than India, Pakistan Air Force is also flying close to the Indians. Pakistan Air Force has 21 combat squadrons at their disposal, with four more soon to be added to the overall quantity. India and Pakistan have fought three wars with each other, and it is a known fact that PAF has always bested the Indian Air Force in encounters.

Fourth Test of Wu-14 Hypersonic Strike Vehicle

China this week carried out the fourth test of an ultra high-speed nuclear delivery vehicle that conducted what intelligence officials say were extreme maneuvers.

The test of the Wu-14 hypersonic strike vehicle was carried out Sunday, launched atop a ballistic missile fired from a test facility in western China.

It was the fourth successful test of the Wu-14 in the past 18 months and the frequency of tests is being viewed by U.S. intelligence analysts as an indicator of the high priority placed on developing the weapon by the Chinese.

Earlier tests took place last year on Jan. 9, Aug. 7, and Dec. 2. The Washington Free Beacon first reported the tests.
Wu-14 hypersonic strike vehicle
Wu-14 hypersonic strike vehicle
 The new strike vehicle is considered a high-technology strategic weapon capable of delivering nuclear or conventional warheads while traveling on the edge of space. One of its key features is the ability to maneuver to avoid U.S. missile defenses.
The Wu-14 was assessed as traveling up to 10 times the speed of sound, or around 7,680 miles per hour.

Unlike earlier tests, the latest test demonstrated what one official called “extreme maneuvers” that appeared to analysts designed for penetrating through missile defense systems.

Current U.S. missile defenses are limited to knocking out missiles and their warheads with predictable ballistic trajectories that can be tracked with relative ease by satellite sensors and ground and sea radar.
However, the Wu-14 threatens to neutralize U.S. strategic missile defenses with the unique capability of flying at ultra high speeds and maneuvering to avoid detection and tracking by radar and missile defense interceptors.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency has repeatedly declined to comment on whether current U.S. missile defenses can defeat maneuvering targets.
A congressional China commission stated in a report published in November that China is working on hypersonic arms as “a core component of its next-generation precision strike capability.”

“Hypersonic glide vehicles could render existing U.S. missile defense systems less effective and potentially obsolete,” the report said.
In addition to the glide vehicle, China also is developing a second hypersonic weapon the uses a high-technology scramjet engine.

The Pentagon and China’s defense ministry confirmed the earlier tests. Asked about the latest test, however, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeff Pool declined to comment on the test, citing a policy of not discussing intelligence matters.

However, specialists on China’s military buildup say the latest test is another significant milestone for Chinese long-range strike capabilities.

Why China’s Air Force Needs Russia's SU-35

Chinese airplane manufacturer Shenyang Aircraft Corporation surprised military observers by test flying its new J-11D fighter jet, an upgraded version of the J-11, China’s indigenous copy of the Russian Su-27. The D-model J-11 is believed to include such advanced features as an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a relocated infrared search and track (IRST) system, and the expanded use of composite materials to reduce the plane’s weight and radar signature. This first flight indicates that the J-11D is further along in its development cycle than many experts predicted and is poised to provide a new and deadly addition to the growing fighter fleet of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

Despite the evident maturity of the J-11D program, the Chinese military nevertheless appears to also be going ahead with plans to purchase Russian Su-35 Flankers. The Su-35 is far more maneuverable than the J-11 – which gives the Russian jet an advantage in short-range dogfights – can fly longer distances, and can take off and land with a larger payload. It is also equipped with new avionics and new cockpit displays. However, its radar is a less advanced passive electronically scanned array (PESA) than the AESA system on the J-11D. Moreover, the aircraft and its systems will be manufactured abroad. The Chinese government views its indigenous defense industry as a strategic asset; purchasing more planes from Russia will not help advance Beijing’s goal of developing a mature, self-reliant aerospace industry. Given the apparent redundancy of moving forward with two very similar aircraft programs, some analysts speculate that the PLAAF’s primary motivation for buying the Su-35 may not be for its value as a weapons system but rather because it is equipped with advanced AL-117S turbofans.

 Engines are a critically important component of any fighter aircraft, and they present Chinese airplane manufacturers with a dilemma. Their new fifth-generation fighter prototypes, the Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang J-31, sport sophisticated airframes and avionics that are clearly intended to make them a match for the United States’ most advanced aircraft. However, China’s ability to manufacture jet engines has not kept pace with other sectors of its aerospace industry. Regardless of how capable other Chinese aircraft systems may be, without a reliable, high-performance turbofan engine to power them, both the J-20 and the J-31 will be crippled.
History is replete with examples of otherwise excellent jets that struggled because they were underpowered. Although the iconic P-51 Mustang is now best remembered for its sterling service escorting strategic bombers on missions over Germany, it was only after engineers replaced its original Allison engine with the much more powerful British Merlin that it could fly and fight at the altitudes necessary to keep station with the bombers it was protecting. Early models of the now-legendary F-14 Tomcat were equipped with turbofans so weak that Secretary of the Navy John Lehman blamed them for nearly 30 percent of all Tomcat crashes and described them as being “just…terrible.” The F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor both struggled through long, painful development programs before their massive engines finally matured and turned them into the highly maneuverable dog fighters that they are today.


The Chinese military has traditionally relied on Russian engines to power its jets. Unfortunately for the PLAAF, the foreign models it is currently using are no longer cutting edge. The designs of these fighter engines date back more than 30 years and they were intended to be used in aircraft that are much lighter than the new models being tested today. For the time being, prototypes of both the J-20 and the J-31 are flying with older Russian turbofans – the J-20 with the Saturn AL-31 and the J-31 with the Klimov RD-93. Analysts have speculated that both of these aircraft are facing performance limitations imposed by their vintage power plants. For example, the J-20’s current reliance on AL-31s may be preventing the aircraft from achieving super-cruise, one of the key performance characteristics that makes the U.S. F-22 such a capable fighter.

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