It's really nice looking at these pictures because the first F-22P (251) is taking shape in front of us. We are seeing FM-90N and 76 mm being fitted on it. Actually, the FCR for the main gun looks exactly like the one for AK-176M, but the turret looks different. The sensors and the 30 mm CIWS are also looking really good now. If we go by previous exhibition posters, the tracking radar is TR-47C(MR-34) and the search radar is the export SR-64. SR-64 really is an interesting dilemma, because it's totally encased in a bulb on all the PLAN ships. It is almost hard to imagine that they are the same radar. We also see a Z-9C model on the helipad, which is consistent with what they do during the construction of other ships. I'm not going to make any guesses on when the sea trial will start.
The other thing I found interesting was Galarhn's post regarding ASBM. Actually, he quoted something by Robert Farley. So, this is something I recently spotted on ASBM from a Chinese military magazine interview with a naval base designer. The original text is as follows:
He was asked if ballistic missile can hit moving target. He said that with improvements in terminal guidance (after solving the technical problem of putting it on a ballistic missile), they currently have the capability to hit moving targets.
Ever since reports of Chinese ASBM came out, there has been a lot of discussions on whether or not this is true and also whether or not SM-3 has the capability of stopping it. This topic really has caused a lot of heated discussions on forums. SM-3 certainly has performed well in tests against the targets that it is designed against from all that I have read. I don't know exactly what the test parameters are, so I won't get into the discussion of which side will win in this kind of encounter. The idea of developing a ballistic missile with the accuracy of hitting a stationary USN aircraft carrier which only has a beam of 41 m is difficult. In that case, you'd basically have to achieve a CEP of 20 m provided that you can find the center of the aircraft carrier. Of course, hitting close to the carrier could also cause a lot of damage. If we use 30 m CEP as the barometer, hitting this kind of stationary target would be difficult, but not unimaginable. Consider that the export P-12 missile was quoted to have a 50 m CEP (and 30 m CEP with GPS guidance), it's not too hard to see a SRBM like DF-15 achieving such a target. We know from a previous Chinese article that DF-5 achieved a CEP of 250 m in the 80s after travelling 9000 km. If we think of all the improvements made in the past 20 years, it's reaonable to think that a MRBM like DF-21 can have a CEP in the 2 digits. I think it's even possible to imagine that DF-21 can achieve the 30 m CEP that's needed. However, is the terminal guidance that they put onto DF-21 good enough to track an aircraft carrier? Consider the speed that it is moving at as it is coming down, it's almost hard to see how it would be able to do so. There is also the other hard part of adjusting the direction to get there. Modern computers have certainly made this process much faster, but is it good enough? I guess we would not know until a test happens.
The other thing is that I don't think DF-21 is the only ASBM they are preparing. DF-15 has also been mentioned, due to it's shorter range and greater accuracy/adjustment. Of course, its range will eliminate the possibility of engaging a carrier (unless USN gets too close). There has also been the talk of JH-7A equipping some kind of a BM like B-611. If we ever see a picture of that coming out, I would be totally convinced that it's designed to engage aircraft carriers. So as things stand, the Chinese sites all claim that ASBM is a done deal. Most Western sources state that they are working on it, but still not there yet. The rest of us will just have to wait to see.