Saturday, January 26, 2008

Responding to some recent PLA articles

I haven't posted much lately due to the fact that there really hasn't been that many ground breaking news coming out. There has been a lot of articles coming out on engine development in the past year. It seems that WS-9 achieved production certification. I think that they probably made some improvement in terms of thrust vs Spey, because it makes no sense why else they had to go through this 3 year certification process for WS-9 after the original design certification. Even now, the MTBO of WS-9 is probably still less than that of Spey. The other good news is that production of Spey and Kunlun were finished ahead of schedule. WS-10A has also apparently finished the scheduled production for 2007. Also, there was a huge ramp up in production in October and they can now finally really mass produce this engine. In a related note, the new LCAC could be using Chinese gas turbine QC-70 in the future. These are all news released on avic1 website. The other interesting thing is that I saw on two separate sources that a new corvette in the Saar V class is coming out (so I guess 1000 to 1500 ton displacement). Now, the construction for this class will probably not begin until 022 finishes (which should happen pretty soon). We've all been expecting this class to fill the void between 022 and 054 series. It's just a matter of seeing this class now.

Now, onto the matter of looking over some of the recent articles. Richard Fisher finally posted a newly researched on strategycenter after a long break. First, regarding the AL-31FN, what he wrote seems to agree with what we have observed from Chinese sources, which suggests that all the FN supplied to J-10 are still the previous variant. The TVC version of FM1 has yet to be supplied. Although, there is no question this engine is being tested out by CAC for possibly upgraded version of J-10. It's also interesting that the Russians have finally figured out that China's reliance on their engine is likely to be finished soon. The 5th generation of Chinese fighters will certainly depend on WS-15 rather than FM3 or upgraded WS-10. He also mentionned 5th generation engine in China and Russia. I certain expect the Chinese one to fly by 2012, but I don't think the Russian one will fly by 2010. After all, the first flight date for PAK-FA seemed to have been pushed back multiple times and I don't expect that to change. The news on JF-17 and L-15 are kind of interesting. As I posted before on SDF, they are confirming that twin-seat and attack version of JF-17s are coming out. The order for L-15's engine is also a lot less than expected. Again, the real reason is that PLAAF simply hasn't liked this trainer enough to put in orders yet. If they can keep JF-17's cost down, it can certainly take some of the roles originally envisioned for L-15. Of course, JL-9's fact induction into PLAAF has also helped. As for EC-175, I don't think it's a secret that PLAN wants this as soon as possible. As for Mi-171, I totally disagree with Richard's Russian source. We've already seen a Mi-171 assembled in China and this has been verified by Kanwa's Russian sources + Chinese bbs sources. I think Richard is making Russians sound like they are being nice by giving more technology to China. I find it hard to believe that anyone can still believe this after Russian hardball with the Indians and China (over IL-76). The reality is that China is quickly loosing interest in Russian products. Russians are given a lot more credit in PLA modernization than they really deserve. These advanced weaponry they sold to China aren't that advanced at all. I read some speculations recently that China might be purchasing more 956s because the Russians owe China a lot of money. It's shocking that they would still want to purchase this outdated ship. It makes absolutely zero sense to me. Either way, no new major purchase will happen until the IL-76 situation is resolved.

I also read some articles recently from Yomiuri Shimbun on PLAN and their modernization and how it threatens Taiwan. You can find them in these links.
There is also another one on the same site stating that Japan is improving its cruise missile defense against the increased Chinese threat. I can't dispute against that. In the interview with Taiwan's vice defense minister, Ko Chen-heng, he seemed to still believe that Taiwan has military advantage over China. I'm really trying to figure out what it is. If Taiwan really believes that it has advantage over China in military or that it's newly develop HF-2E will cause that much problems for China (and can counter the Chinese missile threat), it needs a serious reality check. That's not to say China has enough advantage to overcome the American intervention or the vast numerical advantage Taiwan would have after PLA landings. And it's hard to say how many years will pass before the cross-strait imbalance will reach that point. And Taiwan certainly has a lot more to be concerned about than aircraft carrier. Anyone can see that a PLAN carrier's main purpose is not for Taiwan.

And finally, PKF posted another article on UPI. This one compares the militaries of China, Singapore and Taiwan. The interesting part is that he basically said Singapore had more striking power than China. I could say more, but I think I will just let PKF's illusion continue.


Unknown said...

What do you think of Richard Fisher's statement that PLAAF is not too enthusiastic about twin seater JF-17 and PAF decided to go for it on their own? Do you still think JF-17 has some role in China?
My take on this;
If Richard's assessment is right then i think PLAAF/PLAN will get by with JL-9 for now and wait for L-15's improvement. In short no FC-1s in PLAAF/PLAN.

Feng said...

It's hard to say really. So far, they haven't been too enthusiastic about L-15 either. It all depends on how well they can keep JF-17's cost down.

Unknown said...

New corvette? Sounds very interesting! I wonder if its going to be a stealthy design like the Visby class?

And I think itll be a slight waste if JF-17 doesnt make it into PLAAF...just my personal opinion tho.

dlhh said...

I always read that the WS-9 is a licensed copy of Spey engines. What does it mean? Is PLA paying royaties to use it and if it is, why doesn't Rolls Royce help the PLA, since they solved the problems only in 2003.

As for Richard Fischer, he is no different from Kanwa and will never give the PLA any credit till the evidence stares him in the face.

However, he jump to conclusion with the slightest evidence or rumour to say that the PLA must have got help or tech from everyone else.

I even read a flight magazine from UK where the author says that countries don't have to fear the J-10 as the PLA pilots only train for limited hours as they fear the pilot will defect to democratic countries with this jets. Seems they don't want to give credit as China is considered an enemy. They did the same thing to Russia during the cold war.

If the PLAN gets more 956s, then it shows that PLA has no transparency as this ships are cold war era ships and have no place in modern naval warfare.

Feng said...

no idea, I guess we will have to wait and see. who knows, we might see a SWATH platform like with the ELINT ship. But if past indication gives any hint, i would expect it to look similar to an existing western design. Although, Visby or Hamina class might be too small.

As for WS-9 and Spey, I think they actually used some of their own technology, so it's based on Spey, but maybe with better material and has higher thrust?

Anonymous said...

what is GE

Anonymous said...

how many J10 do you think PLA have

Feng said...

GE - google earth
I'm guessing right now, over 125 production variant in service and another 20+ test variants around. A lot of this is hard to say.

Jiang said...

Feng I think PLAF has well over 200J-10A/B and possiblely 40 to 60 J-10C/D. I am just guessing with math method. Because there are already 150 Raptors in the USAF, the USAF reach a production rate of 60 per year and Raptor is a lot more complex to build. So if J-10 is certified in 2004 then three years even with a production rate of 60 per year is totally achieveable, then the PLAF should have well over 200 J-10s now.