Saturday, March 29, 2008

Latest news from PLA

First, we saw some final photos of 054As in HP and HD before joining SSF. It's kind of surprising that they have still yet to officially be commissioned into the force. I guess there's been some typical problems from being the first batch of 4. These are some of the its photos from HP:

And here are some from HD:

Not only is 054A there, but we've also seen pictures of F-22P. Looks like a lot of progress has been made:

What's more, we finally saw HH-16 firing off from VLS cells on test ship. It finally shows us that HH-16 is hot-launched rather than cold-launched like on HH-9.

I seems like the second batch of 054A might finally be building in HP and HD shipyards. I would say that in a couple of months, we would have conclusive pictures on this matter. And it would be interesting to see if there is any visible changes between the first and second batch.

Recently, the HKB (aviation newspaper) wrote an article about the 10th anniversary of J-10's maiden flight. It's hard to believe that it's being this considering J-10 only was unveiled over a year ago. But I think the bigger news came out later this week when a big shrimp mentioned that the improved J-10 is about to go for its maiden flight. According to many of the speculations, there is supposed to be a huge upgrade in the flight control system, avionics and radar of J-10. The change in stealthiness and maneuverability is probably not as dramatic as many of us hoped. There is no question that J-10 has already had many avionics upgrades, but this will supposedly be a generational improvement of the avionics to level of Rafale/Typhoon. This upgrade should be the bridge between the current generation of J-10/J-11B with the 5th generation plane.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Latest news

Hi, I haven't posted anything new for a while. Part of the reason is that I've been pretty busy these days. And the other part is that there just hasn't been anything news-worthy in the past 2 weeks. I recently found this interview with Chinese military strategist Chen Zhou to be quite interesting.

The most interesting part is probably the stuff on military budget.
SPIEGEL: Many experts believe that the official budget figures are vastly understated. Do they include the costs of military research and of the People's Armed Police and the space program?

Chen: They do include the costs of research, but not for the People's Armed Police. Only the military portion of our space program is paid for under the defense budget.

Of course, the only other area quoted by DoD was military purchase from other countries. And in the recent years, that has been non-existent. So, what we can say is that the only thing the Chinese budget doesn't include is PAP and possibly part of the space program that would be considered military by Western countries, but not military by PLA. Even if we count these parts, can these numbers really be equal to the official budget or be twice as much as the official budget? I would say not. It made sense when China was importing a lot of weapons from the Russians to really inflate the official budget to get the real budget. Back in those days, the budget was much smaller and the purchases were actually much larger, so it shouldn't be surprising that the real budget was much larger than the official budget. However, why does DoD still continue to insist on the 2 to 3 times multiplier even now? It seems like they have not bothered to do further research into how the real budget is related to the official budget recently.

Other than that, we've got some new photos of 051C, 054A and LCAC from the recent times.
First, these are pictures of 051C.

More, with 054As

It's kind of interesting, the last 054A in HD and HP seem to be going final fitting before joining SSF. We've seen some pictures that indicate the next batch of 054A has started and is probably going to be slightly better than the first 4.

Only one photo of LCAC from the new Changxin shipyard and no sign of 052D at this point.

This is kind of interesting, they claim this to be a 091 under modification again. from the slopped sail, we can see that it's either a 091 or 092.

And finally, if you can read this, it's a nice description of the research China has made into pumpjet propulsion.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

More Updates

So, this past week, the annual DoD report on Chinese military came out. Just some hours later, the military budget for PLA was also announced. It's kind of interesting that they had another 17.6% increase this year. Of course, there were an outcry from numerous countries asking for more transparency on this increase. There was also a general outcry on the DoD report for more transparency. So, why have there been this sustained increase in increases of military expenditure? The obvious reason is that China has had a sustained 9+% economic growth for the past 25 years. And the other reason is that they simply have been able to gain more revenue from tariff on the trade growth, increased taxes from corporations and finally having incoming taxes for the growing middle/upper class. As the tax laws become better enforced in the coming years, they will simply get more money to spend on government programs. This hasn't been a military budget expansion, but a general government expansion. Or as we call in the Western governments, adopting a bigger government. Interesting enough, the military budget as a portion of the overall budget has not really changed in the past few years. And I guess part of the reason is that salaries/inflation around China is going up quite a bit recently and you need to take care of the people that do these jobs. Certainly, as PLA expands, being able to recruit the top people, training them the right way is just as important as acquiring new hardwares and developing new doctrines.

The question of why China needs the military expansion is also prominently in the media. I have often wondered why the DoD never tried to answer this question. It's quite clear that facing the traditional enemies in Japan and Taiwan on the East side will always cause a lot of concerns for China. And with their ever great dependence on energy/natural resource supply and other trades with the countries to the west, it's a little wonder that China would be interested in developing a blue water fleet to relieve those choke points. The land threats from Russia and India have decreased in the recent years, but they would have to be on the mind of any PLA military planner. And the biggest threat is probably have USA list you as their biggest threat of the next 25 years. Any country receiving that kind of title would probably be feeling quite nervous. And finally, what about the all important factor of national pride. As the largest country in the world with soon to be 3rd largest economy, it is absolutely logical for a country of this size to develop the 2nd or 3rd most powerful military in the world. However, the growth of its military has not actually matched the growth in its economic power or soft power. Much of the recent equipment received are simply replacing older models with much more capable newer machineries. Is it really China's fault that most of the Western military powers are finding it too expensive too replace older weapons on a 1 to 1 basis?

Anyhow, We've had some really nice recent photos from North Sea Fleet conducting a big exercise + more photos out with the new Yuan in the Shanghai base. Here they are.

First, some of the kilos that we haven't seen for a while

Now, the new Yuan

Pictures of the 2nd 054A from HP shipyard.

And finally, the pictures from NSF of 115 and 116, 051C was involved in its first ever ASW exercise

And a nice photo of 112's weapons + firing off YJ-83 it looks like