Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An interesting day for PLA followers

Yesterday was just one of the crazy days for Chinese military bbs. A bunch of new photos came out that indicated different things. So, let's just go through them a little bit.

We already know about the 18 missile version of HQ-10s that are installed on Varyag. We also thought that several Type 730 CIWS are also installed on Varyag. That is until the up-close photos of these CIWS came out yesterday. I have attached two photos below showing the new CIWS + another photo below that of Type 730. The first thing that you can probably notice is that the turret of this new CIWS is much wider and is possibly installed on a larger mount. This new CIWS looks shorter than Type 730, but that maybe due to the fact that it is stubbier. The FCR still looks the same as before, while the EO sensor is covered. At the same time, it appears to have more barrels than Type 730. To me, it looks to have 9 barrels, but I've also heard estimates from 8 to 11. It appears that this new CIWS would have higher rate of fire due to greater number of barrels. I would think that the larger turret/mount is used to handle the higher rate of fire. It is also likely to store more ammos, so that the rounds don't get used up as fast. At this point, it's not clear if this new CIWS will only be installed on carriers or also other PLAN ships.

At the same time, we also got pictures of that new mysterious SSK finally arriving in Shanghai. It looks like it's ready to conduct sea trials here before getting commisioned into the navy. At this point, it's intended use is a point of heated debates on Chinese bbs. A large number of people seem to think that it will be replacing the retired Gulf class (No. 200) SLBM test launch platform (which I disagree with). Regardless of its usage, this new submarine is definitely much larger than Yuan class of submarines. From an earlier photo, the 6th Yuan submarine was also seen traveling to Shanghai for sea trials at the same time this SSK was leaving Wuhan.

Now, we also see some interesting stuff coming out of naval aviation. It appears that we have finally spotted a J-15 in naval aviation colour that is equipped with 2 WS-10A. The earlier prototype J-15s were installed with AL-31F. One can compare the two J-15 photos with that of a naval J-11BS (3rd photo) to see that they are both using WS-10A engines here. This is obviously an important sign, since Russia will not be supplying China with AL-31F for new Chinese flankers (whether J-11B or J-15). So, J-15 would not be able to join service until it finishes testing with WS-10A.

And finally, we also see a new photo of J-10B out of CAC. The surprising part, is that this photo was taken with the nose of the aircraft open. We have never even seen a picture of J-10A with its nose open! The canted shape of the radar and the surface of the radar would indicate that J-10B is fitted with an electronically scanning radar. This would indicate that J-10B will be either using an AESA or PESA radar. I cannot tell one way or the other from this far out, but my personal view is that this is an AESA radar due to the developments in Chinese military radar industry. I think what's more important is that J-10B appears to be ready for mass production to join PLAAF. After 6 batches of J-10A which probably ended at the first of this year, we are now seeing the 1st of J-10B getting produced.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Latest activities from JN shipyard

First, a thanks to the navy seals that were involved in killing Osama Bin Laden. There were certainly a lot of celebrations in New York last night. A lot of New Yorkers (including my room mate whose father broke his leg and uncle died in 911) received some measure of closure. Secondly, for all of the times where I questioned President Obama's policies, I cannot help but to admire his ability to deliver a speech that summed up the feelings of so many Americans.

Now, back to what I normally talk about: PLAN.

Although I'm not posting it here, the 5th 054A from HD shipyard has been launched and the 6th 054A from HP shipyard looks about to be launched. For those who are counting, 2 054 and 9 054As have entered service and 2 more 054As are launched or about to be launched.

More interestingly, we received a bunch of photos this weekend from JN shipyard of the 4 new 052Cs. I've read that new Yuan submarines and possibly more MCM ships are also under construction in this shipyard, but have not seen their pictures yet.

The first two pictures show the third 052C still getting fitted out. Compared to the start of this year, a good number of the foremast sensors are installed now (including SR-64). I think they still have to install those ECM/ESM bulbs amongst other things. I do not know what kind of work are done in fitting the inside of this ship, but it seems like they are taking a long time to get the ship ready for sea trials.

The next two pictures show the fourth 052C. From these angles, it's hard to make out its progress since the last set of photos. I do think that with the superstructure of this ship is fully in place, so it should take much longer before this ship can be launched.

The next two pictures show the modules of the fifth 052C. As you can see, the hull of the ship is almost ready to be assembled from these modules. We may have to wait until the 4th ship is launched before this unit can enter the dry docks.

The next two pictures show the modules of the sixth 052C. This one is a little further away from dry docks, but my guess is that it will still be launched at sometime in the middle of next year.

Finally, the person who posted these pictures also indicate that the area pointed in this next photo is an aircraft carrier currently under construction. Of course, it's too early to verify this information.