Tag Archives: PLAAF

China’s new J-20 “Mighty Dragon” stealth fighter officially unveiled and ready to enter active service

The PLAAF (People’s Liberation Army Air Force) has eventually unveiled its long-awaited J-20 stealth fighter to the public during the Zhuhai Air Show’s opening ceremony. Is it possible to compare it with the F-22?

Two LRIP (Low-rate Initial Production) J-20A stealth jets did a brief 60-second fly-past at the Zhuhai Air Show 2016 in Guangdong province on the Show’s first day on Nov. 1, 2016, marking the first public appearance of the “Mighty Dragon” fighter that performed its maiden flight back in 2011.

Even though the J-20s did not fly a dramatic flight demo, the two fighters thundered above hundreds of spectators as well as political and industrial dignitaries and executives, made a few climbs, turns and formation fly-bys and then disappeared again.

The public appearance was far from being unannounced, due to the preparation at CAC earlier this month.

Four days ago even the PLAAF itself announced in an official statement, that it would demonstrate its latest J-20 stealth fighter jet at the Zhuai Air Show: Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, PLAAF- spokesman noted, that “the J-20 was designed by our aircraft researchers for future aerial combat. Test pilots from the Air Force will use it to perform at the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition.”

The Chinese Chengdu J-20 is a fifth generation stealth aircraft developed by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

We still know little of about this aircraft even though it bears a loose resemblance to at least three (if not more) other types of aircraft: the F-22 Raptor; the Mig 1.42 prototype; and the the Mig-31 “Firefox”, a fictional aircraft appearing in “Firefox”, a 1982 action film produced and directed by, and starring, Clint Eastwood based on a 1977 novel written by Craig Thomas.

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The aircraft is believed to be equipped with IRST (Infra-Red Search and Tracking), AESA radar and several other interesting stuff, but its ability to match the most advanced western “hardware” is still much debated.

What follows is an analysis of the latest J-20’s achievements.

2016 milestones

With the arrival of the first LRIP aircraft in December 2015 and further new aircraft since then, all “older” prototypes (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017) were transferred in the meantime to the CFTE at Xi’an-Yanliang for further ongoing tests with regular detachments for alleged weapons testing at the PLAAF’S Flight Test and Training Base (FTTC) at Dingxin. These tests so far included captive tests with four large drop-tanks and reportedly included firings of both the new PL-15 long-range AAM as well as the new PL-10 short-range AAM. Besides that, it was reported that the WS-15 has just finished ground testing (with a thrust of about 160kN reached), and it is ready to begin the test on an IL-76LL platform.

In retrospect the year 2016 so far was an extremely successful year for CAC: reports assume that at least seven LRIP J-20As were flown; and most interesting, not only in yellow primer or standard PLAAF-grey with toned-down national markings, but apparently at least one spotting an all-new splinter scheme [similar to that used by West’s Aggressors]. Other reports assume that a few J-20A have already left Chengdu to a first OPEVAL unit, which is most likely established at the flight test center (FTTC) at Dingxin air base, where 12 new hangars were erected since 2015.

Otherwise most spectators, enthusiast and analysts still have to be patient and it is surely too early to judge to what extent the J-20 can match the stealth properties of the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II or how far its avionics are comparable. So far not even its external dimensions, specifications on its KLJ-5 AESA-radar –that is also under test on a special Tu-204C testbed – nor its type of engine were officially revealed, however following the latest reports it is not unlikely a special custom-tailored version based on the Salut AL-31FM2.

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Conclusion

Since its maiden flight in January 2011 ten prototypes were manufactured (Note: the two demonstrators 2001, 2002 = now 2004, + the prototypes 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and two static test specimen) and that this type is to be the third stealth fighter jet to enter operational service following the United States’ F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II. In retrospect the J-20A has indeed reached the LRIP-phase with the J-20’s design being frozen. If the PLAAF follows now the usual procedures, a first unit equipped with these LRIP J-20As of the current interim standard will enter service within the PLAAF at around the year’s end or early 2017; much earlier than expected. As such it seems to be confirmed that even if limited in its capabilities due to the missing WS-15, the PLAAF will bring that type to service as soon as possible to exploit and explore operational tactics and procedures for this new fighter.

Concluding, the J-20 is a giant leap for the PLAAF both capability-wise and technology-wise alike. Did anyone of us expect a Chinese stealth fighter to be operational before 2020 when asked in, let’s say, 2010?

As such even if probably no match in terms of stealth to the latest F-fighters (due to no stealthy-nozzle, open chaff-and-flare boxes and other details…) it is surely much more stealthy than any other type operational in that area. Even if its engines are not the top ones desired – aka the future WS-15 – they are surely comparable (if my theory is correct and I’m quite confident!) – they give that type already a performance surely not worse than the latest J-11B … as such it is a huge step even if it might be well below the F-22’s capabilities.

Andreas Rupprecht is an aviation journalist. He has written several books on China’s military aviation, including “Flashpoint China” and “Modern Chinese Warplanes”.

Image credit: Weibo/Chinese Internet via Rupprecht

Salva

China’s Su-27 Flankers intercept Japanese aircraft for the first time

Two Japanese aircraft flying over the East China Sea have been intercepted by People’s Liberation Army Air Force Su-27 Flanker jets for the first time.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force OP-3C and Japan Air Self-Defense Force YS-11EB were intercepted over the East China Sea by two PLAAF Su-27 Flankers.

Nothing really special, other than the first image of an armed Chinese Su-27 from an intercepted Japanese military aircraft.

Both close encounters occurred on May 24, at 11.00 and 12.00 AM LT.

Image credit: Japan’s MoD

 

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Made in China: all Modern Chinese fighter jets in one photo

One image shows some of the most famous China’s Air Force combat planes.

Even if some types are missing, the photograph is still much interesting. Indeed, if you wondered how the size of a J-10 compared to that of a J-8II, this photographs gives a hint.

BTW, since the Chinese site where the image was posted focuses on scale models, photoshop compositions etc., we can’t be sure the image whether the photo is genuine or it simply depicts a diorama.

Anyway, from left to right you can ID: Shenyang J-11, Chengdu J-10, Shenyang J-8II, Shenyang J-8, Chengdu J-7, Shenyang J-6, Shenyang JJ-2. Front row: Xian JH-7A, Nanchang A5.

If you are interested in Chinese aircraft, Modern Chinese Warplanes written by Andreas Rupprecht and Tom Cooper, and published by Harpia, is the book for you.

The paperback volume, sporting 256 pages, 274 color photos, 12 maps and 60 color drawings, accurately portrays China’s current military planes, their weapons, their markings and serial number systems, as well as the order of battle of both the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and Navy Air Force: the ideal starting point if you want to study Beijing’s air power.

H/T to Sobchak Security

 

 

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The astounding statistics of the Japanese Air Defense

According to the Japanese Ministry of Self-Defense, the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) has scrambled its jets 138 times throughout the last quarter of 2013.

All that happened due to the alleged provocative behaviour of China’s Air Force.

The number is pretty high, second highest during 2013. Only first quarter of last year was more intense with 146 scrambles; in Q2 (second quarter of the year) there were 69 interventions with 80 in Q3.

Obviously, much of the activity is related to crisis around Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

In the period of 1945 and 1972 it was governed by the USA. Had it not been for this period the archipelago has been under the Japanese jurisdiction since 1895.

After 1972 the ownership was disputed by China, that claimed the islands, as well as Taiwan. The strategic location of the islands, fish density and probable oil reserves make this area highly desirable.

Japanese stance, on the flipside, is that the islands were found terra nullius by Japan late in the 19th century. Chinese argue that there is evidence that the islands were posessed by China before the first Sino-Japanese war in 1894-1895. The argument Chinese state is that the islands, being a part of territories conquered by the Imperial Japan, should be henceforth returned.

Anyway, regardless of the validity of the claims by both sides, what is clear is that the amount of scrambles by the Japanese QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) cells can be used to measure the status of the (difficult) diplomatic relationships on the Beijing-Tokyo line.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image Credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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China established Air Defense Identification Zone over East China Sea that overlaps Japan’s one

Beginning on Nov. 23, China has established an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over a chunk of the East China Sea, that covers the islands (Senkaku for the Japanese and Diaoyu for the Chinese) that being claimed by Japan have been a source of growing tension between the countries.

And, above all, the new ADIZ overlaps a similar existing one established by Tokyo much earlier.

On the first day of existence, the ADIZ was patrolled by PLAAF (People’s Liberation Army Air Force) planes and AEW (Airborne Early Warning) aircraft. And two aircraft, including a Tu-154 and a Y-8 were intercepted by the JASDF (Japan Air Self Defense Force) fighter jets.

Xinhua News Agency has published the whole announcement of the aircraft indentification rules within the new ADIZ released by the Ministry of National Defense:

The Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China, in accordance with the Statement by the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, now announces the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone as follows:

First, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must abide by these rules.

Second, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must provide the following means of identification:

1. Flight plan identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should report the flight plans to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China or the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

2. Radio identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must maintain the two-way radio communications, and respond in a timely and accurate manner to the identification inquiries from the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ.

3. Transponder identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, if equipped with the secondary radar transponder, should keep the transponder working throughout the entire course.

4. Logo identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must clearly mark their nationalities and the logo of their registration identification in accordance with related international treaties.

Third, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should follow the instructions of the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ. China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.

Fourth, the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China is the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.

Fifth, the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China is responsible for the explanation of these rules.

Sixth, these rules will come into force at 10 a.m. November 23, 2013.

There are other ADIZs around the world, including one around Canada and U.S extending well beyond the 12NM of national sovereign airspace. However nations can’t claim sovereignity over the whole ADIZs; these are established for security purposes and all aircraft entering inside these special airspaces will be closely monitored and intercepted (if they fail to comply with the rules set for the ADIZ).

Concern around China’s ADIZ is that the presence of many warplanes flying around the disputed islands may not only lead to an interception, but spark a full scale conflict.

The blue line in the following image (credit Alert5.com) shows the boundary of the Japanese ADIZ.

overlapping-JP-CN ADIZ

Image credit: Japan MoD/Xinhua/Alert5

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