Saturday, December 8, 2007

China's 5th generation fighter

In the last few weeks, a Chinese general said in public TV the following






徐光裕将军 解放军防化学院原院长 解放军总参谋部退役军官、中国军控裁军协会理事 北京三略管理科学研究院高级顾问 著书[核战略纵横]国防大学出版社

This got famous because he mentionned that China has been researching on this plane for many years and have made a lot of progress. This project has been on going for over 10 years. This includes on the engine with T/W ratio of over 10. Other than stealth technology, avionics technology have also advanced a lot. He expects that China's 5th generation plane to be in service in 5 to 8 years. It's kind of interesting, because he also mentionned that J-14 will appear in 5 years.

Clearly, China did not participate in the 5th generation project with the Russians because it felt that it could develop it on its own. We had expected for a long time that China would work with the Russians with the 5th generation engine, but it turns out that WS-15 is progressing well enough that they feel an indigenous solution is good enough. If WS-15 is not ready, an upgraded WS-10 could be used first. I know that turbofan has always been a sore point with China. But now, it seems like WS-13 is progressing faster than a lot of people estimated and might even go in production next year.

As mentionned in the past, it seems that CAC is getting much of the design work for the 5th generation project. Now, it's encouraging, because a lot of technologies on 5th generation could be tested on upgraded J-10 first. So, one can expect the so called upgraded J-10 to be holding down the fort until the 5th generation plane gets developed. It's interesting, 2015 has often been noted as the date that this plane will come out. However, another really important project in the form of anti-air UCAV is probably just as important, but is less publicized. From Anjian's appearance in recent air shows, it's quite clear that China is working on anti-air UCAV a lot earlier than Western air forces. There are some obvious advantage and disadvantages to UCAVs in this role. Whether China can make a cost effective and useful UCAV is a huge question. There is no doubt that such a weapon could be huge in a possible conflict with Taiwan.

Recently, We've seen the Indians sign the 5th generation contract with the Russians. Clearly, China would've participated in the project somehow, if they felt their own product would come out quite a bit after the Russians. Some may say that China is doing because they want to protect their own industry. The reality is that China is so desperate for something to counter F-22/35, that waiting an extra 5 years for a 5th generation jet is a price that I don't think they are willing to pay. So, the Chinese jet will probably come out at around the same time as the Russian one. One thing is for sure. China will not have any kind of money problem.


timurelame said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
timurelame said...

Perhaps PLA's reluctance to participate with Russia to develop 5th generation fighters is due to a lack of trust of Russian
capabilities to complete and produce the jets on-time and with adequate reliability.