Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Varyag officially acknowledged

Today, China's Defense Ministry finally admitted to the existence of refitting the Vayarg carrier. Here is the Xinhua link on the subject.

Here is a Reuters Article.

And here are the highlights of the news conference with Defense Ministry. I wish to get a clip of the news conference and watch it over later, but here are the interesting points.

  • Some anonymous source said 2 more aircraft carriers are being built at JN shipyard in Shanghai. (I'm not 100% on the number or the location, but it sounds quite plausible)
  • Geng did not give an official sea trial date and said that it is not related to South China Sea drama.
  • Geng said the task of training carrier-borne aircraft pilots is under the way. He also said that China is relying on its own effort to train naval pilots. (This is interesting, because I've read that the first Chinese pilots already got to Brazil.)
  • Varyag is used for research, experiment and training. (I think it will have be eventually used for more than that, but we will see)

Here are some of the Varyag pictures taken in the past couple of days. Looking at the work on the deck, it looks like the refitting is close to being done.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Upcoming weeks

Hi guys,

I'm currently going through some books on PLA and will be working on something pretty comprehensive. So, you might not see something out here for a couple of weeks. The goal is to have several instalment of material on the evolution of PLAAF in the next few months. I think it will be worth the wait once I do have everything completed.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

PLAN activity outside of Varyag

It looks like the recent report that Varyag was going to start sea trial in July 1st did not turn out to be true. There was a report from Jamestown that the sea trial was pushed back to sometimes in August. I will just go with the approach of wait and see when it will first sail off. From the pictures I saw a couple of days ago, there is still a bunch of stuff lying on the deck.

While the entire attention was on Varyag, there has also been quite a bit of activity around different shipyards.

From the two photos below, we see the first submarine launched in the new JN shipyard. The old JN shipyard had been producing Song submarines during its production run. I had speculated that the production variants of Yuan submarines (aka Type 039B) are also getting produced in JN. Now, we have confirmation that is the case. We can also see that the 4th 052C is about to be launched.

At HD shipyard, we can see continued works on its 5th 054A and 2nd Type 071. I have previously posted the modules of the 3rd Type 071. I've recently read that the 4th Type 071 is also quickly taking shape in the shipyard. It shows that Type 071 is really becoming a big part of PLAN's future plans.

At the same time, China is about to send its 9th flotilla to Gulf of Aden. It will be sending 169 (052B), 569 (054A) and 885 (replenishment ship) from the south sea fleet.

Interestingly enough, 885 has been fitted with a new 30 mm naval gun in the front and the back of this ship (as you can see from the 1st and 3rd 885 photos).

Another development that has received a lot of my attention recently has been the refitting program on the Type 052 Luhu class destroyers. This was the first class of PLAN ships that attempted to incorporate Western design ideas and subsystems. In fact, 112 was the first ship that was fitted with gas turbine engines. It received two LM-2500 engines before the arms embargo came into place. As a result of this, 113 had to be fitted with GT-25000, which has since become the gas turbine of choice for the 052 series of destroyers. These two ships were last updated in 2003/4 when the original YJ-81 missiles were replaced by the YJ-83 missiles and PJ-33A was replaced by a design with reduced RCS features. These two ships entered into shipyards again more than a year ago to undergo further modernization.

By the summer of 2009, we saw 112 parked outside of HuDong shipyard (113 was undergoing a similar change in another shipyard). By the end of that year, we saw it completely ripped apart. In fact, several people even speculated that 112 was about to be scrapped. The rest of us wondered what kind of major changes they were planning for 112. Some work was done while parked outside, but majority of the refitting work were done after being moved into the dry dock in April of this year. The diagram below shows the modernized 052.

The pictures below shows 113 before the refitting


The pictures below show which parts of 112 was changed.
Hard to see with it covered and the main gun taking up most of this picture, but the ASW rocket was changed from 12-tubed RBU-1200 to the 6-tubed Type 87 (commonly found on recent PLAN ships)

The Type 726 multi-purpose decoy launcher has been installed on the side of the bridge. The Type 76A guns and Type 347G targeting radar have been removed and replaced by a EO tracker.

SR-64 has been installed on the aftmast. The Type 518 long range surveillance radar has been replaced by the Type 517 radar.

Two Type 730 CIWS has replaced the two Type 76A guns and the Type 347G targeting radar. We also see what appears to be two new satcom bulb installations.

Another part that was changed was the variable depth sonar installed on this ship. We used to be able to see the towed variable depth sonar through openings at the back, but it has now been sealed up and replaced with a similar TAS to the one on 054A.

Through the two years that it has parked outside of HD shipyard. A number of us have wondered why such changes are needed when the more capable 054A were mass produced very cheaply. As we have seen this with all of their refitting works on Type 051 and Type 053 ships, PLAN does not like to just decommission outdated ships. Even as a generation of blue water ships come into service, the older ships are kept around to play smaller roles in coastal defense. With 052's modernization, it will probably be kept around for another 15 years. We can also see that HH-7 and PJ-33A will most likely be kept around for a while. China produced a lot of missiles and rounds for these systems and is in no rush to replace them on the older ships.