Saturday, January 5, 2008

More rebuttal toward Andrei Pinkov

Pinkov has recently became a writer for UPI on the issues of Chinese military. I must say that his Kanwa magazine credentials are carrying him pretty far. It's unimaginable how he is allowed to continually write flawed articles for a fairly legitimate news site. As I have seen with his latest article. Pinkov's knowledge of PLA doesn't seem to be increasing. If you haven't read it yet, it goes like:

Should a conflict break out across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwanese forces would face a grave shortage of ammunition after just seven days of fighting. Even though China has a much greater stockpile of ammunition than Taiwan, it would also encounter similar problems in a sustained conflict.

The PLA Air Force fleet of third generation fighters comprises 281 Su-30s, Su-27 SKs, J-11A/Bs and 64 J-10As, whereas its bomber fleet includes approximately 48 JH-7As and 117 H-6s. In full-scale warfare across the Taiwan Strait, suppose there were a loss of 20-30 combat aircraft each day, the current fleet of 344 third generation fighters in effective service in the PLAAF could sustain combat operations for only 11-17 days.

Unlike the United States and Russia, China does not yet have the capability to independently manufacture third generation fighters. For instance, in order to produce J-11B fighters, China has to rely on imports from Russia for critical subsystems including engines and infra-red search and track systems.

Furthermore, the manufacturer of J-11 serial fighters, the Shenyang Aircraft Company, has had a production capacity limited to roughly 17 aircraft each year. As for the J-10, it is widely known that production of this fighter aircraft relies heavily on the outside world, as the J-10's AL-31FN engines are imported from Russia, and other large parts are forged following the designs of a certain Western country.

As a consequence, if a conflict broke out and a military embargo was imposed, the PLA Air Force would immediately face difficulties with its insufficient number of third generation fighters.

Taiwan's depleted ammunition could be immediately resupplied from U.S stocks, because most of the Taiwanese ammunition is the same as that used by U.S. and Japanese forces. However, such Chinese equipment imported from Russia as the Su-30 MKK multi-role fighters, Kilo 636M submarines and S-300 PMU-2 surface-to-air missiles are not in service in Russia. Even the quantity of RVV-AE air-to-air missiles in service is quite limited in the Russian Air Force.

In terms of the production of naval battleships, almost all of China's large-tonnage and new surface combatants rely on Russian and Ukrainian technologies, particularly the power plant systems from Ukraine.

Similar to the situation of the combat platforms, the replenishment of ammunition faces the same problems. Indeed, the PLA's capability to resupply its ammunition, is much greater than that of Taiwan. However, under highly intense assault operations, the attrition of ammunition would also be much greater than that of the defending side.

Another problem China would face is that the PLA must rely on foreign imports for its high-performance ammunition, and a substantial portion of the critical components of China's indigenous high-performance ammunition also has to be purchased from other countries. Moreover, as the combat platforms are mostly not standardized, once these platforms are depleted during combat operations and become quantitatively insufficient, the ammunition intended specifically for them won't be of much use. For instance, except for the J-11Bs, all the other Su serial fighters cannot carry China-made PL-12 AAMs, while the output of J-11Bs is very limited so far.

On the other hand, the J-10A cannot be fitted with Russian-made AAMs and air-to-ground weapons. The PLA Air Force has imported at least 1,000 units of RVV-AE (R77) AAMs, which means each of the 330 third generation fighters of the Taiwanese Air Force would face attack from three R77 missiles on average.

During the Ethiopia-Eritrea air conflict from 1999 to 2000, the Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters of the two countries fired the same R-27 AAMs in large numbers, but none of them hit their targets! In the air battles, the loss of MiG-29s was mainly because they were struck by the short-range R-73 AAMs.

In 1999, when the U.S. Air Force's F-14D fighters chased the Iraqi MiG-25s that entered the no-fly zone, the U.S. fighters fired a total of eight AIM-54C AAMs, but none of them hit their targets either. During another U.S.-Iraq air confrontation in January 1991, F-15 fighters fired a total of seven Sparrow semi-active radar guided air-to-air missiles, and once again, none of them hit their targets.

China has imported more than 1,000 H-29T ASMs and H-59T ASMs. Are these too many? Not at all. In modern air battles, the basic concept is to involve a few 10,000 air-to-ground weapons, and the effect could still be quite limited. In the case of Taiwan, mountains cover a large portion of the landscape. Moreover, in time of conflict, the problems of cover-up and camouflage have to be taken into consideration.

During the Kosovo War, large-scale air raids lasted 78 days, a total of more than 23,000 rounds of various types of ammunition were dropped, but only 3 percent of them hit the designated tank targets, according to the former Yugoslavia regime after the war.

As for the PLA Navy, it has only 14 real battleships with the capability to engage in modern maritime combat operations. Its other battleships are all useless metal scrap. These 14 ships include two 051Cs, one 051B, two 052Bs, two 052Cs, three 054As, and four 956E/EMs. During a conflict, these 14 battleships would inevitably become the prime targets of Taiwan's air and naval firepower.

A possible outcome could be as follows: in a lasting war of attrition when the above third generation combat platforms and ammunition supplies become a serious problem, the older equipment of the Chinese military, including J-8Fs, J-7Gs and the obsolete vessels of the PLA Navy would be put to use; hence a 1970s war would be played out on a 21st century battlefield.

This proves the practicality of the Chinese military's concept of "fighting a quick battle." Obviously the Chinese military is well aware of the hard reality that the current international political dynamics, China's own limited strategic oil reserves and its limited supply of advanced ammunition will not allow it to engage in a prolonged war across the Taiwan Strait.

His biggest problem is turning this into a numbers game. It's about how many planes I have and how many planes you have. And how long I can afford to loose my planes and how long you can afford to loose yours. Now as we know, there is a lot more to war than just how many guns I have vs how many guns you have. Having said that, let's just look through some of his point.

The first thing that jumps out to me is his underestimation of these so called older plans like J-8F and J-7G. J-8F is believed to be more capable than su-27s in PLA with it's more advanced radar, ability to fire multiple PL-12s and good supersonic performance. It may not be the most agile platform out there, but the current upgrades makes it a relatively effective BVR platform. In a scenario like Taiwan, even the J-7Gs can have its uses due to the small cross-strait air space.

The second thing jumping out is underestimating China's 4th generation air force. While the flanker force in PLAAF is well known, the number of J-10s and JH-7As in service are far more that what he stated. We've seen 6 regiments of JH-7/A and probably 5 regiments of J-10. And there is probably even more of each type than what we've seen. The statement that J-10 depends on the foreign world is purely ignorance. Despite what Pinkov says, WS-10A has been equipping J-10 and has fully reached satisfactory performance for PLAAF. As for the "other large parts are forged following the designs of a certain Western country", let's just say that statement is neither correct nor problematic if it is correct. J-11B certainly does not rely on the import of Russian items anymore. A while back, the Russians cut supplies to all the subsystems of J-11B, but this project has just continued by using all domestic components. In case of emergency, CAC's production line is said to have the capability to reach a rate of 400 J-10s per year. Right now, China has neither the money or the need to reach that level of production. Wartime will however be different. I'm guessing it's a similar scenario with SAC. The real critical issue to examine is whether China will have enough skilled pilots left in a sustained war.

Pinkov also brought up the interesting point of China only having imported 1000 R-77s and 1000 H-29/59. While this is true, China does not rely on su-30s for it's A2A and A2G missions. I would say that having 4 R-77 + about 10+ R-27s + large numbers of R-73s for each of the imported flankers is enough. The chance of an aircraft having the opportunity to fire off 15 to 20 times and still survive is not too great. The far more important part is China's production rate for PL-12, PL-8B, the new SRAAM, KD-88, YJ-91 and YJ-83K. There is no indication at the moment that China would not have enough of these type of ammunitions. And with the induction of LS-500J, LS-6, FT series PGMs, China certainly has the ability to produce a lot of cheap smart bombs. The LACMs and SRBMs will be used for more important targets. I'm not saying that China has enough ground attack weapons for the Taiwan scenario, but that it's certainly not as bleak as some people would say. As for S-300PMU2, China certainly did not purchase enough of its missile, but China also certainly has plenty of HQ-9 missiles. And the performance of HQ-9 has certainly pleased PLA enough for wide deployment.

And his analysis of the naval situation is more puzzling. I just don't understand why it matters that some of the subsystems on the modern PLAN ships are licensed production of Russian/Ukrainian systems, when there is no way China can possibly produce those large ships during the war or the time leading up to the war. The only thing that Chinese shipyards can build during these periods are the 022s. Those certainly don't need to worry about not getting the necessary imports from the Russians. His entire arguments about China not having enough surface fleet is true, but that's not a problem against Taiwanese. It will be a problem vs JMSDF and USN, but ROCN might not even survive long enough against PLAN missile strikes to form any kind of useful retaliation. His entire dismissal of 022s and the sub force really ignores the reality of the war scenario.

Either way, Pinkov continues to write articles that appeal to the anti-Chinese crowd while failing to really examine PLA doctrines and deployment. It's certainly easier to convince readers that don't follow PLA that much. He conveniently ignores certain truth to try to enhance his points. However, a long-time PLA watcher will probably see the folly of his arguments.


xiaogrove said...

Great article to tell the facts. The strategy of China to Taiwan is force backed peaceful reunion. The strategy of Taiwan independent is to downgrade China's force to nothing.

bigdaddy said...

feng, what's the deal with YJ-12 missiles? I've heard about it for many years. But there is still no real information on it. Did it hit technical problems or what? And how about the so-called c-805 missile? Still nothing is reported. Did that also encounter technical problems? Why does everything the PRC develops seem to have so many technical problems?

Feng said...

C-805 does not exist. YJ-12 supposedly does, but we haven't really seen it in service anywhere, so we might as dismiss it too. It's a simple matter that they have better products to use instead. And I'm a little unclear what you mean by "everything the PRC develops seem to have so many technical problems". Which has so many technical problems.

bigdaddy said...

what I mean is: everything from aircrafts, warships, missiles, engines, manufacturing technologies always encounters "daunting technical challenges" while others pump them out and create new technologies all the time like a walk in the park. You always hear the PRC scientists talk about "arduous tasks" and "tremendous technical difficulties" with everything they try to develop even though others had already done them.

But when the Americans and others develop something, they never say how difficult it is, yet they often achieve better than the goals. Just look at the Mars Rovers, 4 years and still running on Mars. They built a moon rocket in only 6 years in the 1960s and their engineers never shook their heads and say what a big challenge it was. They gave themselves only 9 years to go to the moon and did it in 1969. Chinese engineers give themselves 10 to 15 years to accomplish the same thing 40 years later if they have full funding. China says it graduates the most number of engineers, but they seem short on creative courage.

dlhh said...

Feng, don't waste your time replying to bigdaddy, he just a retard who wants to make a nuisance of himself.

Feng said...

They say "arduous" task because that's just their mannerism. If you have specific projects that they are behind on, then we can talk about it.

bigdaddy said...

I noticed something about the Chinese way of thinking: It's always about "experience", but rarely about "creativity." That is why we always see others create new science and technology and China always follow behind dutifully learning from the experience created by others like a perennial good student.

Take aircraft engines for example. It has taken China over 20 years to develop the WS-10A, yet it still has technical problems and reliability issues. The U.S. developed the much superior engine for the F-22 in less than 10 years and is already on its way to developing sixth generation new-concept adaptive engines with T/W ratios of 15-20. Meanwhile, China's engineers are still tweaking their old engine technologies to get a mere T/W ratio of 10.

And let's not talk about ZPE drives that the PRC govt. and its scientists won't even dare venture to create until similar projects are already well underway in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Also, as I said earlier, Chinese scientists and engineers are talking about a moon rocket with a requirement of 3,000 to 4,000 lbs of thrust like it is a big challenge. But German scientist von Braun and the Americans had already established the science in the 1960s and they only took 6 years to construct the powerful Saturn V moon rocket. Again, it is another "arduous task" for chinese engineers to faithfully learn by copying. Once they are done, maybe they'll get a perfect 100% grade from the Americans.

And as for dlhh: didn't your elders teach you to be respectful to bigdaddy?

dlhh said...

Please read Richard Fisher, IASC, Senior Fellow, Asian Military Affairs comment in a 2003 report:


One of the main challenges for the PLA traditionally has been the development and production of modern military turbofan engines. Their inability to do so has meant that new domestic fighter designs have been dependent on foreign engine imports—which could make such combat aircraft programs highly vulnerable to shifting politics. For example, the J-10 had to be designed around the 12,500kg thrust Saturn AL-31FN
turbofan in order to produce a successful modern multi-role fighter with sufficient performance.

This year, for the first time in my experience, a very high Saturn official with extensive exposure to the PLA’s advanced aircraft engine sector stated that the new WS-10A, reported to be an impressive 13,200kg thrust turbofan, could be in service in about 5 years. At the Zhuhai 2002 show a photo was released of a J-11 alleged to have been modified to test one WS-10A. The Saturn official said it was “entirely possible” for the PLA to finally succeed in making a 13.2 ton engine, but that they were experiencing troubles in perfecting specific engine elements, and offered the fuel pump system as an example. Nevertheless, that the PLA would be this close to producing an advanced turbofan is a remarkable achievement, a sentiment clearly shared by the Saturn offical. Also surprising, this official said that as soon as the WS-10A is perfected that the PLA would likely stop buying Saturn products.

This comes from a Saturn Official, one of Russia's Premier Aircraft Engine manufacturer's.

Please goto:

What is your credentials, bigdaddy to generalise the effort of the entire scientific establishment in China?

The book "China CEO" by John Wiley & Sons interviews CEO's from companies like Siemens, Unilever, Du Ponts, Alcatel, Sony & other Fortune 500 companies in China & most of them agree that in 20yrs, it would be naive to think that Western companies will still be king.

The 20 top executives of these companies expressed a significant degree of concern over how far & how fast domestic companies in China are advancing technologically.

Again, I ask, What are your credentials, bigdaddy? Unless you have any, don't be a Gas Bag talking hot air about subjects you know very little about!

Feng said...

alright, let's not send any more insults. I really don't want to start deleting replies.

As for why they are behind USA. they started later, that's why. You can't start creativity when you are behind. When you are behind, you catch up. I don't know why you think China is taking a lot longer to develop it systems. A lot of the big projects took a while in the 90s due to lack of funding + weak infrastructure. However, it's a new ballgame now. The progress on many of the platforms are ahead of our expectations. For example, WS-13 is going to be ready a lot faster than what we expected. Why do you think that it is going to be developed at half the time of WS-10A? It's a big hurdle to develop the first modern Turbofan engine. In terms of development, they are supposedly going to be ready with WS-15 by 2015. That's certainly going to be a big accomplishment. As for this F-119 being ready in 10 years, you are going to have to prove that. When you add up initial research + developing technologies + developing the core + assembling the engine + testing it out + sorting out minor problems, that takes a long time.

bigdaddy said...

Well, to "catch up", one can follow the well-worn path created by others, or one can jump ahead by creating its own path. It is obvious that the Chinese are able to only see one way.

You can talk about how fast they are catching up technologically, but that's because they are always following in others' footsteps and copying their designs at every step. While china follows, others are constantly creating new grounds, blazing new paths, testing new theories. Just recently, we heard about how the small country of Britain is yet at the forefront of another technological development --- optical stealth in the form of an invisibility cloak. And it is something no one else has explored. Chinese scientists would not even dare consider such technology until someone else has showed them how it can be done. You can't really use the excuse of "starting late" for things that no one else has explored. Often times, "starting late" can be the result of lacking creative courage to explore a field before someone else does it first. Such is the case with Chinese development today.

China follows faithfully the path created by others like an old student. Of course it will get high marks and praise from others on how fast it is progressing. But at most, it will know as much as others know. It will never leap ahead of them to create its own world, blaze its own paths for others to follow. It never dares to do so.

I am not the first person to notice how students from China are seriously lacking in creativity. They are good at getting perfect scores on exams created by others. They can understand theories created by others perfectly. They are even excellent at manipulating these theories and methods within their established parameters. But when it comes to creating their own solutions to real problems, they can rarely venture outside of boundaries established by others. Over here, it is called "thinking outside the box". But the Chinese mentality is forever comfortable only when it can roam inside a box created by someone else.

In my previous post, out of the many points I mentioned, only the one on the F-119 engine got a response in feng's post. dlhh's response was even more irrelevant. I guess that goes to show how difficult it is to make excuses for the truths that hurt.

dlhh said...

First, I must apologize for some of my remarks. I thought you were one of those bloggers who wanted to put the country down just for the fun of it.

Your latest remark has merits, but revamping the education system is not done overnight. Its true that China education system emphasise more on rote learning than thinking out of the box. Singapore have the same problem and it started revamping its system more than a decade ago but it take time to change.

While a lot of foreigners have critised China's manufacturers as copy cats without creativity, you have to look at the whole picture.
Take for example the auto market. By joining the WTO and opening the market to foreign brands, in order for the local auto companies to survive, they have to copy other designs to make sales.

If they were to wait for their own R&D to come out with something different, the auto market will be totally dominated by foreigners, from low cost to luxury autos. Its easy for foreigners to critize, yet they are petrified that China will catch up and with similiar quality will beat them on cost alone.

Japan and Korea were also critized as low cost copycats when they started exporting. Look at their world class companies now. Its riduculous to think that China can't do the same.

As for your remarks on WS-10A, the russian official from Saturn describe the development as remarkable. It means he knows more than you or me about how fast the Chinese engineers develop the engine despite having no prior experience or infrastruture to do it.

Feng said...

Actually, there are fields that China leads in, even in military. They have being developing certain asymmetrical weapons of defense specifically to counter USN. So, I wouldn't agree with that. I'm really not sure why you are expecting me to reply to each point. Since you did, let's go through them. For the ZPE drive, I have no idea what that is. As for your rocket one, they don't have any blueprints of the American system, so they can't copy. And the rockets they are developing for moon are CZ-5, which is suppose to have 50 and 120 t thrust depending on the engine.
For the kind of money they poured into space program, this is certainly pretty fast development. You have to remember the wide range of satellites they have going now. So, I don't see any problem with it. If you really have to get into it, the Americans still get Russians to launch for them. Are they behind now?

It's just a nature of Chinese papers to overstate the challenge of a problem and the achievement. They are also not in a space race, so they don't have to pour all their resource into the space program.

What more do you want to ask about? What other systems they are behind on and how they are trying to copy it?

dlhh said...

I also think we should stop entertaining this bigdaddy guy as he is talking about something very intangible.

Looking as his profile, he does not even say who he is. He definitely did not do any research to come to his conclusions. The only merit I give him is in education.

China and chinese wherever we are do not need to explain nor defend our intellectual record. Our creativity is shown in the numerous inventions which the europeans copied.

However we get to the top right now does not matter, whether by hard work or some inspiration. His comments that everything is a walk in the park is hogwash.

There is a documentary about apollo programs showing how close USA came to losing the astronauts in the first moon landing. We have not even mention all the astonaunts lost in 2 space shuttle explosions.

USA, when they are developing nation also did not care about intellectual rights till their own companies have something to protect. Product safety in USA was also non existant till very late in their development. X-Ray machines to see your hands without any concern for health safety, etc. All this is recorded in the USA History Channel.

Both Russia & USA have failed & exploded rockets whern they started the Moon program.

When Britain stated developing the Trident passenger aircraft, it did not bother to test the safety of the aircraft and hundreds of passengers died in air crashes in Italy. Apparently the planes mid section tore off during flight. They were forced to do some serious R&D to find out the problems.

A lot of inventions right now is done by R&D, and China in the latest american science magazine is in the forefront of quite a few fields.

What I saying here is there will be a lot of naysayers about China's development.

They sleep better knowing that a one party state cannot catch up with them, thats why they are all rooting for India. They say India is high tech & creative even though there is no evidence to show this.

I quote Pete Sampras, the tennis champion when he wins titles and reporters say he is too clinical, destroying the beauty of tennis:

I don't care what you say, I don't care what you print, at the end of the day, I am still the CHAMPION.

So Feng & everybody else, lets stop entertaining this person. He will disappear fast & goto another blog to preach his intangible views. Whatever his views, we have books & magazines saying otherwise, and this is from CEO's of fortune 500 copmpanies & people working in the aerospace industries. They know better than him.