Saturday, November 3, 2007

Latest rumour coming out of the PLAAF land

I'd like to finish up on 054A, but there are certain air force related matters that I want to go over.

As you have all probably noticed, there was a Russian report that China will deliver 24 J-10s to Iran. Now, I have to say that the original report was full of errors just in terms of its description of J-10. It basically called J-10 a clone of Lavi (which is not close to the truth). Of course, the Israeli and American news services picked up on this and harped on China's betrayal of Israel's help. They also made sure readers noticed that American tax dollars are not only spent on J-10, but will also be forwarded to Iran, their enemy. Aside from the obvious part that the Israelis stopped helping the J-10 project in 1995 (first flight didn't come until 1998), people fail to realize that J-10 would've been completed eventually with or without the Israeli help (although there is no doubt that the Israeli assistance sped up the development process). There are several reasons why China would not sell J-10 at this point:
  1. China does not export its best technology (similar to USA and Russia). In fact, several years back, the Iranians were interested in J-8F. However, China was only willing to offer F-8IIM, so the deal fell through. Until J-11B is fully in service J-10 is by far China's most powerful aerial threat. If they would not even export J-8F to Iran, why would they export J-10?
  2. The risk of J-10 falling into American hands is too great. If J-10 is exported to Iran, then the likelihood of it falling into American hands after a confrontation against Iran is extremely high. In that case, US would be able to take it back, examine the aircraft and get all of its performance parameters. Once that happens, the effectiveness of current and future J-10 would be significantly reduced. In fact, it is actually more beneficial to US if J-10 gets exported to Iran (especially considering the likelihood of military action against it).
  3. If JF-17 is good enough for Iran, why would J-10 need to be exported. In fact, Iran was always expected to be the largest JF-17 customer outside of Pakistan. There have even been talks of an assembly line for JF-17 in Iran.
  4. China has also apparently helped Iran on Shafaq and its indigenous F-5. It can do a lot of business with Iran without having to sell its most advanced fighter, why would it do it?
  5. There is also the recent sanction by US on IRG. It's possible that any Chinese companies dealing with IRG will get sanctions. Would companies like SAC and CAC sacrifice their contracting jobs with Boeing just to make a few bucks with Iran?
In general, I think there are simply too many factors against such a move.

There have also been some rumours out regarding China's 5th generation fighter. The latest word is that SAC did not win the competition as many had suspected. Rather, it is a combined effort with CAC. In fact, it seems CAC is getting the lion share of the design work. Now, it's likely that the assembly line in Shenyang (112) will be in charge of the main final assembly rather than the one in Chengdu (132). Make a note, there is a difference between the design bureau (601 for SAC, 611 for CAC) and the actual factory producing the aircraft (112 for SAC and 132 for CAC). Due to Shenyang's experience producing heavy fighters like J-11, it might get the final assembly order, but that remains to be seen. If this is the case, then CAC might not put as much resource into the much talked about twin-engined J-10 project. Either way, there are a lot of projects for both SAC and CAC in the coming years.

Another recent rumour is the existence of JH-7B variant, but I'm still waiting for more photos to come out on that.

Finally, it seems like Russians have cut off Shenyang for the components to J-11, because they are worried that China will not make any orders for su-35, if J-11B becomes to successful (too late in my mind). But as it turns out, the domestic suppliers have stepped up and it hasn't been a problem. In fact, a recent avic1 article talked about J-11 changing engines. I'm not sure if it's talking about equipping new J-11Bs with WS-10A or just swapping older flankers with WS-10A. You can find the article here:
本报讯 近日,中国一航沈阳飞机设计研究所提前完成型号飞机换装发动机及鉴定试飞,飞机顺利转场;取得阶段性成果。一航沈阳所所长、型号总师孙聪荣获中国一航“总经理特别奖”。






It says that it takes one month from the start of changing engine to the end of flight test. Looks like J-11B has is finally fully indigenous.


timurelame said...

Will China sell J-10 to Pakistan?
Will the martial law in Pakistan
affect the sale, if any?

Feng said...

China will sell J-10 to Pakistan. The only question is when and in what form? If you go from some of the rumblings on the Pakistani sides, it seems that J-10 will get some Western upgrades before being sold there. From Chinese sides, I would think any talks probably won't conclude until 2010 on a deal.

Unknown said...

The news about J-XX being a CAC design project:

This strikes me as implying that the PLAAF wants a stealth fighter as soon as possible. So they chose a more "modest" CAC design over the SAC design. The lion's share of funding then is devoted to the more immediate project rather than a more distant SAC project.

Since the CAC design is supposed to be more modest, this probably means that it is in fact the same thing as the reported "twin-engined J-10". It wouldn't make sense for CAC to have two designs for a future air superiority fighter.

In other words, it seems CAC's successor to J-10 (by any name) is very high priority.

timurelame said...

Any thoughts on the recent rumors of PLAAF getting a "stealth H-8"
bomber? Perhaps just media speculations?

I think Roger is right about the urgency of PLAAF in getting the successor of J-10 out as soon as possible. Many of China's neighbors such as Russia, Japan, South Korea, India also have next generation fighters being developed or planned.

Feng said...

It looks like the design might not be more modest, but rather CAC might be given the funding to do the 5th generation fighter, so they will concentrate less on this twin-engined J-10 idea. Or maybe not, all of these are just rumours right now. Although, I think what we can conclude is that CAC and SAC are both involved in the design work of the 5th generation fighter. Sort of like how Boeing and LM are both working on F-22.