Monday, December 29, 2008

PLAN - Review of 2008

As we approach 2009, it's time to look back at 2008 in the PLAN world and look forward to what might transpire in 2009. Last year, I took a look at how much PLAN has improved in the past 5 years. I don't think I will need to do that again. Frankly, PLAN improved so much in that 5 year period that it is impossible for it to make an equivalent leap in the next 5 years. As a result of this, this report will be a more abbreviated version.

To recap, some of my predictions from last year didn't turn out so well. In particular, the much anticipated 052D class did not show up at all this year. Although, I have read that work on it has already started in Shanghai, we just haven't seen any pictures yet. And from the new location of JiangNan, it's clear that pictures of 052D will not come as frequently or as clearly as the pictures for 052B/C and 054/A. Right now, we see a lot of overhead shots of the JiangNan shipyard (because everything is taken from aerial view) and a lot of guesses on what each of the ships are. Fortunately, HuDong shipyard still hasn't moved to the new location in Changxin, so its pictures are still frequent. As usual, pictures from HuangPu shipyard, Dalian shipyard and Wuhan shipyard are still frequent and very detailed. Even the extremely secretive nuclear submarine shipyards in Huludao cannot avoid those overhead satellite shots as evidence in those google earth images of 094s. These pictures are the reason that PLAN is the most transparent of four major PLA branches (my personal transparency rank is Navy, then army, then air force and finally second artillery).

In terms of new construction, this year was definitely a lot slower than 2007. In many ways, I consider it to be the slowest year since 2002. In 2003, we saw the 052Bs, 072-III class and 039G1s coming out. In 2004, we saw 052C, 054 and Qiandaohu class replenishment ship coming out. In 2005, we saw 051C, 022s and 039A coming out. In 2006, we saw 054A, 804 class MCM ships and YuanWang ships coming out. In 2007, we saw 071, 093/094, ELINT ship, 805 class MCM ship, Fuxianhu class replenishment ship coming out. Through this time, we also saw 2 Sovs and 8 636Ms inducted into PLAN. All we saw this year were slightly modified version of 039A, the Type 920 medical ship and a new submarine tender. All things considered, this year is not only a downer for the number of ships being built but also lacked the new exciting variants of past years. There are many reasons for this. We had the Olympics, which basically put a moratorium to construction for a few months. One of HuDong's massive cranes collapsed and it was also building 3 F-22Ps at the same time for PN, so HuDong only managed meager progress on a 054A. In fact, I was just thankful the crane didn't collapse on 054A. HuDong had been building 054A, 071 and MCMs in the past couple of years, so there was a huge drop in its deliveries to PLAN. JiangNan was finalizing on its move to Changxin Island, so the only progress we saw were a group of 022s. We've seen basically no work out of Dalian shipyard. For much of the year, the HuangPu shipyard seems to spent more time with tugboat rather than newer 054A. Wuhan shipyard has been working on 039A submarines, but clearly most of the military shipyards haven't done much this year. I think what we saw this year was PLAN finally getting some real work done with these new gadgets. They are trying to work on software with these newly found hardware. Among which, the 052B/Cs, 054As, 071 and 093/094 all joined forces in the Sanya base to form PLAN's most potent flotilla. In fact, I expect this base to be the primary base/headquarters of a future blue water fleet (China's version of 7th fleet and Honolulu base). You can even see that from the recent Somalia fleet. They are sending 169, 171 and 887 from this fleet with 169 and 171 to be replaced by 168 and 170 later. I've also read that 093 might accompany these ships on their way there. This kind of expeditions along with major live firing exercise in the past couple of years are the kind of training needed for the sailors to become experienced with these new ships.

So, what did we see and didn't see this year? We saw the second batch of 054A in Huangpu and HuDong shipyards toward the end of the year. At this point, we still do not know all of the changes on this ship, but we will definitely be following a lot of 054A next year. We saw at least 2 new 039As joining service this year and also a modified variant at works in Wuhan. However, all pictures surrounding this class disappeared by the second half of the year. We saw 866, the first of China's new Type 920 medical ship, joining the ESF. This was a surprise, because I expected it to join SSF to support long range operations, support islands in South China Sea and also do humanitarian relief missions. We also saw a new submarine tender, designed to operate LR-7, under works at Guangzhou shipyard. The need for a new ship in this class is very high with all the new submarines joining service, so we will be following this ship a lot next year. We also saw a lot of 022s in both HuangPu and the new JiangNan shipyard, so it looks like this class is still in mass production. At this point, I think no one knows exactly how many 022s are in service or will be in service. The number is very high and the production should probably wind down in the next couple of years. We continue to see new tugboats coming off the docks of HuangPu shipyard. It's almost astounding how many new units of this ship have came out. We saw the LCAC in the beginning on this year and not much after that. I'm guessing that it is entering service with 071 and we won't see much more of it. As mentioned before, we haven't seen the 052D class photo at all. We also did not see any action regarding to a second unit of 071 or a LPH. There might have been newer units of 805 class, but we didn't really see them outside HuDong shipyard. We saw one new type of Y-8, but did not see any pictures of the ASW/MPA version have already been ordered by the navy. We found out more about 054 series' ASW gear this year from pictures of TAS sonar on Jianghu and an interview with the capitain of 138. We found out that 054 not only has Towed array sonar as we long hoped for, but also may have something like the ASROC. We saw many some new export types of AShM being displayed in Zhuhai air show, but nothing resembling the long rumored supersonic ramjet propelled missile. We didn't see any news/pictures regarding to an AGS like naval gun, but have seen successful development of a new 130 mm gun for next line of destroyers. We have seen the much talked about FL-3000N in Zhuhai air show, but its presence there seems to indicate that it is for export. PLAN will probably continue on its pass of gun based CIWS for air defense. We saw newer gas turbine like QC-70 finishing development early this year and also indigenization of DA-80, which is already been used on at least on one of the 052B class ships. I'm personally looking for more gas turbines like QC-185, QC-260 and UGT-15000 on new ships. They may not happen this year, but their availability in the future would reduce the current bottleneck that PLAN faces for new ships. Getting the right motor has always been a problem for PLA whether it is for tanks, fighter jets, transports, helicopters or ships.

So, what am I looking forward to next year. The one that comes to my mind right away is 052D. It was probably overly ambitious of me to have expected to see photos of the ship coming out this year. I believe we will see pictures of this ship coming out next year, although not as fast and as furious as 052C pictures due to the remote location of the new JiangNan shipyard. Even though the quality of photos from this yard won't be as good, I'm eagerly waiting those photos to see the configuration for this ship. I've read some source speculating that this ship will be at least 1000 tonnes heavier and have more weapons loaded. Now that they've had a couple of years of experience with 052C, we should see a more loaded/combat design for the new ships. I'm also looking to see 054A in both HuDong and HuangPu shipyard. HD might be a little slow next year with more F-22P work and the crane problem, but HP should proceed smoothly now that tugboat and 022 production should slow down a little bit. I am eagerly waiting to see the weapon/sensory fit with these 054A units. We should also see more diesel submarines coming out next year. I don't know whether the newer units will look like the existing 039A or the one with modified hump. I suspect we will see more of the former, because 039A is now a relatively mature design, whereas the new one is likely to go through more testing. I'm sure there will also be more nuclear submarines, but it will be just as difficult to figure out how many will be produced. The other ships I'm waiting to see include more 071 class LPD, some signs of an LPH and a new 1500 tonne class ship to occupy the gap between 022 and 054A. I think we will finally see Y-7 or Y-8 based MPA next year that will be like China's P-3C. After focusing on ASuW, AAW and MCM in the past years, the ASW part of PLAN is finally coming out of ashes and showing up in new hardware. And as always, we saw new ships like the submarine tender, ELINT ship, new tugboats and Type 920 in the past 2 years, it will also be interesting to see newer types of auxiliary ships appearing next year. I guess the final one in mind is the aircraft carrier project. At this point, I don't expect to see any picture coming out of JiangNan that would be clear enough to discern an aircraft carrier. However, we can keep tabs on this project with all the news that are bound to come out. We received a lot of news this year regarding to the naval pilot school and possible su-33 purchase. I would expect more news like this to come out next year.

In conclusion, 2008 has been a quiet year compared to the past few years. The hiatus around Olympics, the specific conditions in several shipyards and possible problems caused by the snow storm early this year are all possible causes. I look forward to 2009 to be another important year as I believe many projects are about to start.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A visit around the HP shipyard

As you guys know, HuangPu shipyard is located in Guangzhou province and is also one of the most important military shipyards in China. And the fixtures there are the 022 FACs, 054A frigates and tugboats.

First, we see some new pictures of the third 054A construct from this shipyard. Looks like this ship is ready to be launched soon. Most of the sensors and on-board weaponry are still covered right now, so we will have to wait until later to see if there are any major changes from the first batch of 4 054As.

And it seems like since 2006, we always see a huge flotilla of 022s outside of the HP shipyard. Even after 2 years of non-stop work, we still see that even now. Looking at this and the flotilla in Changxin shipyard, it really makes you wonder how many 022s PLAN has.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Varyag photos

So this week, we saw some new photos of Varyag coming out. The photo is kind of interesting because it looks like they opened up the missile section (where the shipwreck missiles would be) to fit equipments in there. We are not sure exactly what. One of the major possibilities would be engines for Varyag. The parts for the engines could be lowered to the hangar deck through the missile opening and/or the hangar elevator. They can then cut an opening in the hangar deck to lower and assemble the engines inside the boiler rooms. After what seemed to be a couple of years of hibernation, work for Varyag has started again. Here are some of the photos of the work done for the ship.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chinese Helicopter Industry

Today, I saw a really good interview the chief designer in the Z-15 from the Chinese side (who is also the deputy chief designer of 602 Institute. If you can read Chinese, the original interview is as follows, it provides a really solid look at China's helicopter industry.





























Some of the interesting points that Mr. Yang made:
  • China is developing helicopters in 1.5 t to 15 tonne range like US and Europe is doing rather as opposed to Russian portfolio which includes much heavier models. It seems to follow a general trend in the development of Chinese maufacturing industry where they are generally trying to follow the path of West. Most of China's recent indigenous efforts (not licensed/unlicensed production like flankers/Mig-21s) are actually showing more Western influences.
  • EC-175/Z-15 received 111 orders in its first airshow appearance and orders from 10+ customers since. Chinese companies have also placed orders for 10+ Z-15s.
  • Obviously, China feels that its self-produced helicopters like Z-9/11 are generation(s) behind Z-15. Z-9/11 only have a lifespan of 6000 hours compared to 20,000 hours for a modern western helicopter. This project is not only important for improving technologically, but also improving after-sales servicing and support.
  • They are also proceeding with their 10+ tonne helicopter project independently and may launch the project in 1 or 2 years. It may be in conflict with Z-8, but that's ancient technology.
  • Chinese helicopter market has a huge upside. At the current time, there are only several hundreds military helicopters + <>
  • The biggest gain from cooperation with Eurocopter is learning how to develop a safe/reliable design. Prior to this cooperation, China had little idea on how to design something that would be able to pass the strict Western aviation standards. They also learnt the design process of Western companies, which includes the quality control and management practices.
Out of all the above points, I think that last one is what most people should understand about China. As written in this article, what China really seeks is learning the process of developing a successful product. They went from a minor partner in the EC-120 project to become an equal partner in EC-175. By the next step, they probably would like to develop a new helicopter (like the 10 tonne helicopter) independently. That helicopter would most likely not be cutting edge in the civilian market like EC-175 will be, but it will be developed through this Western design model. The same thing has already happened in the automaker and shipbuilding industry and probably will happen in the airliner industry. American gov't spends a lot of time trying to stop China from having access to sensitive military/dual use technology. It's true that such technology are helpful to the Chinese military buildup, but what China really has copied from the West is its design and management practice (although it still has a long way to go). It gets upset about Canada exporting a few PW engines for the prototype part of Z-10 project, but nothing seems to happen with Sikorsky after S-300 and S-92 deals. Not that I think it's all Sikorsky's fault. In a market where Eurocopter and Agusta are more than willing to cooperate and/or give China license production, Sikorsky has little choice to do the same. And at the end of the day, China can always go to the Russians/Ukrainians for engines, if Western engines are denied for its military projects. And with Russian expertise in heavy lift helicopters and Western cooperation in 1.5 to 13 tonne helicopters, China is developing a helicopter industry through a whole range of weight classes for military and civilian use.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

J-10 from Zhuhai airshow

J-10 was clearly the star of the recent Zhuhai airshow. There were many UAVs, but J-10 attracted all of the attention. You can see many of its flight performances on youtube by searching "j-10 zhuhai air show". You will be able to find clips like this, this and this. We saw J-10 doing steep climbs, sharp turns and refueling with HU-6. It certainly prompted some new reactions to the plane. One of the more famous ones were posted by Stephen Trimble. The comment by a Moscow-based aerospace journalist is as follows.
I watched how the J-10 flew over Zhuhai, in 30 degree Celsius temperatures and high humidity.

The pilot did none of the show tricks like post-stall or tail slide or pitch-back, but turns were very tight, initial rate of turn very high. It was clear there is a lot of potential in this airplane to achieve the same maneuvers more quickly.

The pilot rarely used afterburner and the degrees of canard deflection were small. Still, the airplane flew very well. I reckon it will beat F-16C or MiG-29/SMT easily.

Now, I certainly feel vindicated that a Russian is actually really praising J-10 over Russian fighters. I'm still waiting for more article to come out on J-10 at the moment. I haven't seen anything by Richard Fisher or PKF on this.

The other revealing part about J-10 came out of an interview with Lei Qiang, one of the first J-10 test pilots. He certainly brought a lot of heated exchanges on Chinese bbs by saying that J-10 can do Cobra better than su-27. He also gave an interview with a magazine where he talked about his experiences with J-10. He talked about where J-10 was stronger and weaker. However, one of the more interesting thing that came out was a commentary online regarding Lei Qiang. The writer just talked about how the upper level in PLAAF didn't know how well J-10 would fare against su-27. So they asked Lei Qiang for his assessment. Unlike a more conservative/shy pilot would do, LQ clearly listed the areas that J-10 are better and the areas that su-27 are better. He ended it by saying that he definitely thinks J-10 can dominate su-27. So, they actually took su-27s flied by top pilots from one of the elite units and put it again J-10s flown by test pilots. And J-10 won handily. That is how J-10 project got supported. This man has also flown F-16 and Mirage III in Pakistan. He has also traveled to other country to see the tactics of other country's pilots. Basically, he has had some experience with modern Western fighters and tactics. His comments to PLAAF bosses and then the subsequent performance of J-10 vs su-27 probably ensured the success of the program.

And after the air show, we also heard PAF officials reiterating its desire to purchase about 2 squadrons of J-10. It's hard to say what is the next revelation of this plane. I suppose we will see J-10B's pictures coming out soon. We should also see WS-10A equipped J-10 pictures, although it's not that easy to differentiate that from AL-31FN equipped ones. I will also be waiting eagerly for next generation AAMs and PGMs (some of which were displayed in Zhuhai) equipped on J-10.

Let's take a look at all the PGMs showcased in the airshow and there are a lot of them. A couple of them first appeared in 2006 airshow, but more variants were showcased (from the same series, but just in different weight class). First, the FT series of SGBs. There is even a gliding version in FT-2.

In addition, you can see a video of FT-2/5 in a promotional video here.

Next part are the LGBs and SGBs produced by the maker of LS-6 and LT-2. We see a new 250 kg version of LS-6 + LT-3 that has TV and Laser guidance.

And finally, this is a promotion for LT-2, it shows that LT-2's CEP is 3 m.

And finally, there is another LGB called ZQX-200 produced another manufacturer. It shows that there really is many competitors right now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A new submarine tender

So according to the person posting this photo, this is the new submarine tender ship under construction by Guangzhou Shipyard International Co Ltd. Here are some of the photos of the new submarine tender.

Now, it's kind of interesting that this ship also has the thing in the back (I don't know what you would call it) that is used to lower the LR7 rescue submarine that they are buying from the British. It's also interesting to note that this would be the first submarine tender that PLAN has ordered since Type 648. Considering all the new submarines that are coming out, it's about time that they build a new submarine tender that would make use of LR7. Some people are calling this the 9500 tonne type 926 class.

We also have some new photos of 866 in action.

And finally, CCTV has a clip of different services. The first part is the navy and shows 168 in action. It's actually kind of interesting to watch the different systems (especially the Type 730) in action. You can find the clips here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Recent news from PLAN land

I was going to get to Zhuhai airshow, but I wanted to wait for some analysis to come out on it first. J-10 certainly made a huge splash, but let's look at what's going on with PLAN and also the new naval weapons shown in Zhuhai airshow.

First, we head to HD shipyard, where the second F-22P is under construction. You can see its photos below.

Second, we saw more photos of the 3rd 054A from HP shipyard taking shape. The front mast has now been installed and it looks just like other 054A in that aspect.

Next, we get some pictures of the two largest medical ships serving for PLAN. So contrary to my opinion, 866 actually got sent to the ESF. We also see 865, which was converted from German built 1300TEU container ship "QIU HE". We can see their photos below.

As promised, let's take a look at all the Anti-ship missiles that they displayed from this airshow and I'm skipping C-602 and C-802A here, since they are so common.

And of course, the missile that we thought was HQ-16, but actually turned out to be a long range guided rocket system.

You can even see a video of it in action here.
From the information I read, it seems to have the necessary range for the Taiwan scenario. It's another in the long line of long range rocket that China has developed.

One of the big stars of this airshow is the FL-3000N, which looks like a Chinese version of SeaRAM. You get a good look at the system + the missile + an article on this if you can read Chinese.

The article basically says that it fits 24 missiles (also has 12, 8 and 4 missile launchers?), the combat station can handle 2 FL-3000N launchers (one in the front and one in the back). It can defend against subsonic and supersonic AShM. It has two guidance modes: passive radio frequency/infrared homing, infrared only. The missiles locks-on-after-launch, it's fire and forget and engages multiple targets.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Interesting things to consider

I know I'm due to post something on the Zhuhai airshow and I will get to that this weekend along with some new 054A photos and other photos. But I read an interesting article by Pat Buchanan today and I thought I'd comment on it. For those who don't know, Pat Buchanan is a prominent conservative (the old-time fiscal conservative rather than social conservative of today). You can find the article here.

Basically, he raises some interesting points about the rise of China and fall of USA. If we really think about it, the biggest gap separating USA and China is the manufacturing capability and the technology gap. Even after years of improvement, US still leads China by decades in certain areas. I think what he stressed there that's important is that China has really been moving up the value chain in manufacturing. At the same time, US manufacturing industry has been on a steady decline and the service industry is by far the largest one now. When we shift the focus to the military side, it's clear that civilian technology/manufacturing trends are also present there. We see a vibrant shipbuilding industry in China, compared to a non-existent shipbuilding industry in America. So even though there is a technological gap between the latest PLAN and USN ships, the production is a different story. China is building many new naval ships on time and on budget, whereas USN is plagued with cost overruns. It all comes down to the fact that China has the manufacturing capacity here, whereas US does not.

Automaking is an industry that is the foundation of manufacturing. US became the manufacturing center of the world due to its car making prowess. The entire concept of assembly line and mass production was started by Ford. Make no mistake, even with the big 3 in trouble, US will still be the largest card producer in the world due to the fact that all foreign automakers are building their cars in America now. At the same time, you see that China is still having trouble breaking into European/North American market due to the safety and emission requirements in these markets. However, you are finally seeing different private and public automakers in China really expanding their operations and mass producing cars. So, there is a technological gap, but the manufacturing gap is almost irrelevant here. Both countries have the manufacturing capability to produce the trucks, vehicles and tanks needed for combat operation.

If we shift our focus to aerospace, it's a totally different story. In this area, US has a huge technological edge in material science, engine technology, stealth, aerodynamics and sensor. However, US has retained its manufacturing capability here, whereas China has a very low-end aerospace industry. As a result, we see that China has to rely on Russia for engines until WS-10A can be ramped up. We see that China has to cooperate with the Russians and Europeans on advanced helicopter designs. We also see that China has to cooperate with Ukrainians and copy IL-76 in order to get its own military transport. Even after it successfully develops an aircraft, it cannot produce them at the same rate as Boeing or Airbus or Sukhoi. Just look at how much trouble SAC is having in just produce 10+ J-11Bs. At the same time, we see that it simply does not have the work force, technology and expertise to mass produce larger aircraft like Y-8, MA-60 or ARJ-21. I don't really call producing 30 ARJ-21s a year mass production. However, you see that China is really attempting to catch up in this area the same way it has in shipbuilding and automaking. It is getting an assembly plant for Airbus 320 in Tianjin on top of the assembly plant for ERJ-45 and also trying to develop its own airliner. At the same time, it has ready become a major supplier for both Airbus and Boeing. And in the recent Zhuhai airshow, we heard news that China is buying a Western aviation firm.

It's been a general Chinese practice to start by producing the simpler parts and then slowly move up the value chain while advancing technologically. Eventually, it will be able to first copy and then eventually design its own machinery. It has already happened in shipbuilding and automaking. I think it will also get there in a decade in aerospace. There really isn't much Western companies can do here. China has managed to capitalize on the competition between advanced Western companies for the Chinese market by getting them to transfer technology in certain cases, do joint venture in other cases and source parts in other cases. Unless everyone refuses to sell to China, a nation that is devoting this much resources to advance technologically will succeed. And you can also see this happening in other major industries like nuclear power plant, renewable energy and space technology (to a less degree). And I think the best point that Pat made is this one.
With her immense trade surpluses, China's reserves have surged from $200 billion in 2002 to $2 trillion. Awash in dollars, Beijing now waits patiently, writes McMillion, to cherry-pick the crown jewels of America's industrial empire—"patents, talents, natural resources, brands"—at fire-sale prices in the global crash.

It's scary that he is mentioning this, because that's exactly what I read China is trying to do in the recent years. It has already bought out Western companies in automaking, CNC machinery for their technology rather than their business value. It's a luxury that most Western countries don't have. With a huge account deficit in most G-7 countries, they really don't have the money or the public support to rescue every company that has advanced civilian technology. Remember, China is trying to improve its overall technological and manufacturing prowess. Military industry will only be helped by advancement in civilian areas as clearly shown in shipbuilding.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Congradulations to Barack Obama

I will try to keep this a rare thing. I normally don't post my political views on my blog, but I thought this is simply too big to ignore. Those who know me personally know that I've been an Obama supporter for a long time. In fact, I've been a supporter since 2006 when he announced his candidacy. Personally speaking, I don't agree with a lot of his policies, but I've always supported him. I believe that the leader of America should be a truly unique person with strong leadership qualities. The policies are formulated by the advisers and other members of the party. I will never find a candidate whose policies I agree 100% with. However, true leaders have something different. They have the ability to inspire the nation to do greater things. They have the ability to get the young people to believe in themselves and believe in the nation. They have the ability to give vision to the people, so that they can have hope and optimism. It's like in sports. The best leaders may not happen to be the best player/athlete, but their leadership inspires team mates to be better than they could ever be alone. That's what I always saw in Obama. He inspires a lot of people (including myself) to work hard for the greater good of the world. He gives me hope that this present quagmire will be over. Somtimes, having confidence in life is the only placibo we need to achieve greater things. Maybe all this inspiration and enthusiasm will not succeed (and it is hard to with the current economic situation), but he can't be any worse than George Bush. We will have at least a president that is respected by the rest of the world, an intelligent man at the helm and change the way the world thinks about America. Just by the virtual of having a black man elected, it tells the world that America is not just ruled by a bunch of old white man. But that it really is a land where anyone can do anything. That alone would change and has changed the way that the rest of the world thinks about America. This really is something no other candidate can do.

And when he was making his acceptance speech, I felt like crying. When I first came to North America and learning about the culture here, my first hero was Martin Luther King. I remember that goosebumps I had when I first heard the "I have a dream" speech. So, when Obama went back on the civil rights movement back in the days, it was almost too much for me to bear. It was amazing for not only the fulfillment of an old dream, but the start of a new one. Even though Obama is black and I am Chinese, I've always felt that I could relate to him. I related to him as someone who was born into a situation without much expectations, but managed to do well in life with the support of a loving family. When he spelt out a dream, he was not only doing it for black people, mixed-racial people or single parent people, but also for those who on the surface do not seem to share a life story with him. I'm a Canadian living in America, so I'm caught in the economic downfall like everyone else is. I wish that the change he speaks of will become beneficial to people in America and the rest of the world.

As for his policies, I personally don't support a lot of them. I'm very fiscally conservative and also believe that offshore drilling should be allowed and nuclear power should be the largest part of a clean air initiative. I like Ron Paul the most. I personally think that his economic policies would've been the most positive for America, but they are too radical for the main stream media and the public. Basically, I like the old school conservatism that believed in small government, pragmatic foreign policy and low taxes (which no one can label the present day Republicans). So despite having such a leaning, I never looked away from Barack's character, leadership and intelligence. These are qualities that I did not see to the same degree in any other candidates.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

252 is launched

One of the members on SDF asked me last night if the 2nd F-22P was launched and I just answered no. Of course, I didn't get a chance to check the military forums, because of the Halloween stuff. When I checked it this morning, it was a little embarrassing that I was wrong about it. Anyhow, here are some of the photos from 252 launching.

Also, we saw a new video + photos of the new CAC UAV that came out recently. I'm convinced this thing is not going to be a major part of PLA, because they normally keep new systems tightly under the wrap. Only export items like JF-17 and L-15 get shown right from the start.

Also, some additional news:
  • Venezuela reduced the order of K-8s from 24 to 18
  • Harbin received an order for 4 Z-9s from Kenya
  • China will get help from Russia in its goal of building a heavy helicopter with maximum start-off weight of around 30 tons
  • They have also purchased 4 Mi-26s from Russia
Next week is the Zhuhai airshow, so we will get plenty of news coming out, stay tuned.