Sunday, October 11, 2009

Work on Varyag + full scale mock up in Wuhan

In the past day, the Chinese military forums have been buzzing over what appears to be a full scale mock up at the Wuhan ship design institute (also known as 711 institute of China Ship Design Institute). Pictures of it can be shown below. From the look of it, the island is going to contain all of the radar and electronics on the real carrier. I find it hard to believe that the building itself can take the pounding of the helicopter or the naval fighter taking off and landing. I also question that the ski jump is strong enough to support a naval fighter taking off. I'm not sure if this facility has any aircraft elevators, but I can't really spot one. So, I think this will definitely be used to test the radar and electronics that will be on a real carrier (in this case, it looks to be what Varyag's island construction is to become). They replicated surroundings to make the testing more realistic. And I think there are other carrier operations that they can prepare for. Although, it's hard to tell what they will be just looking at these pictures.






We see a picture of Z-8 and something that looks to be a flanker on top of the roof. From this, I think it indicates that naval flanker and Z-8 are likely to be form the air wing for the first generation of carriers. Now, if we look at the pictures, the Chinese naval fighter looks to be slightly different from your typical flanker. In the pictures below, it looks this fighter might have canards. Now, many people have commented that the naval flanker here (I believe J-15 is designation given in PLA) is a mock up. I've seen some of the helicopter mock ups they've put on ships during the testing phase and at least Z-8 isn't a mock up. I also don't think the naval flanker is a mock up. Although, it also doesn't make sense for them to put a prototype on there when they are not likely to conduct flight testing.



Finally, we also have a bunch of pictures showing the recent modification efforts of the island on the Varyag. Although the pictures are kind of murky, it appears that they have several faces ready to be installed something like the APAR radar from 052C (aka HLJG346)




8 comments:

Jiang said...

Feng did you notice the SU-33 onboard? Is that the one they bought from Russia or the new J-11C SAC is working on?

Eric Z said...

Uhh, dude he wrote a whole paragraph dedicated to the J-15 and Z-8...

Feng, I'm wondering about the "second generation" of china's carriers, with the Varyag being China's first. If we're assuming the 2nd gen of carriers to have catapults (or even if we don't)what differences would you project? If they get into service around 2020, then I'm thinking J-15with an organic fixed wing AEW and indigenous helicopters (10-ton type and/or Z-15)? I doubt China will continue operating Z-8's too far into the 21st century.

Feng said...

At the moment, Z-8 seem to have a whole new renaissance in PLA. It's an old helicopter, but they've upgraded it a lot to the point that it's acceptable as a heavy naval helicopter. Until they get the 10 ton helo in service, Z-8 is going to be the helo of choice for all the large ships like carrier, LPD, replenishment ship and hospital ship.

As for carrier generations, it's really too early to say how many units for each generation. I won't really call Varyag a generation. My guess is that China would want to eventually get to USN style nuclear powered super carriers by the 2nd generation to enter service somewhere 2020-2025. At the moment, the first generation of domestically built carriers will probably be conventional powered with either QC-280s or steam generators, but will probably have catapult. I think they actually probably want to put EMAL catapult on the second generation carriers, but whether or not they can get that accomplished is a different story.

As for AEW helicopter on Z-15 or 10 ton type, I don't think that's possible. That's just not large enough. Z-8 is large enough to provide the space and power for AEW operation.

China Security Blog said...

Great photos.

geminif4ucorsair said...

Incorrect observation regarding the Z-8 in a AEW&C configuration.

The helicopter is actually quite large and is larger than the Russian Ka-31 (Ka-252RLD) that has been sold to India for AEW missions off their carriers. The Z-8 is roughly comparable with the Agusta Westland Sea King AEW.2 and AEW.7 (ASaC.7) -series that can also be fitted with under-fuselage airborne radar, as used by the Royal Navy.

Thus, with recent modernization and a new series of Z-8 helicopters emerging, don't be surprised if you seen a AEW version next decade with a radar looking suspiciously like that of the Russian flat-plate rectangular phased-array antenna and E-801 mission suite onboard a future Z-8 helicopter.

geminif4ucorsair said...

Incorrect observation regarding the Z-8 in a AEW&C configuration.

The helicopter is actually quite large and is larger than the Russian Ka-31 (Ka-252RLD) that has been sold to India for AEW missions off their carriers. The Z-8 is roughly comparable with the Agusta Westland Sea King AEW.2 and AEW.7 (ASaC.7) -series that can also be fitted with under-fuselage airborne radar, as used by the Royal Navy.

Thus, with recent modernization and a new series of Z-8 helicopters emerging, don't be surprised if you seen a AEW version next decade with a radar looking suspiciously like that of the Russian flat-plate rectangular phased-array antenna and E-801 mission suite onboard a future Z-8 helicopter.

geminif4ucorsair said...

Incorrect observation regarding the Z-8 in a AEW&C configuration.

The helicopter is actually quite large and is larger than the Russian Ka-31 (Ka-252RLD) that has been sold to India for AEW missions off their carriers. The Z-8 is roughly comparable with the Agusta Westland Sea King AEW.2 and AEW.7 (ASaC.7) -series that can also be fitted with under-fuselage airborne radar, as used by the Royal Navy.

Thus, with recent modernization and a new series of Z-8 helicopters emerging, don't be surprised if you seen a AEW version next decade with a radar looking suspiciously like that of the Russian flat-plate rectangular phased-array antenna and E-801 mission suite onboard a future Z-8 helicopter.

geminif4ucorsair said...

Incorrect observation regarding the Z-8 in a AEW&C configuration.

The helicopter is actually quite large and is larger than the Russian Ka-31 (Ka-252RLD) that has been sold to India for AEW missions off their carriers. The Z-8 is roughly comparable with the Agusta Westland Sea King AEW.2 and AEW.7 (ASaC.7) -series that can also be fitted with under-fuselage airborne radar, as used by the Royal Navy.

Thus, with recent modernization and a new series of Z-8 helicopters emerging, don't be surprised if you seen a AEW version next decade with a radar looking suspiciously like that of the Russian flat-plate rectangular phased-array antenna and E-801 mission suite onboard a future Z-8 helicopter.