Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Pictures of Varyag

We are finally getting some new pictures of Varyag before the 60th Anniversary parade. It really looks like they are doing a lot of work, especially on the island. From looking at all the stuff they have on the deck, I think there is more going on then just the work they are doing on the island, but it's hard to tell right now.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

China and Russia naval drill

In the last couple of days, the PLAN and RuN fleets held a naval drill next to the Gulf of Aden. You can actually see a video of it here.

Here is the article associated to the video:
The Chinese naval escort task force has carried out a joint exercise coded "Peace Blue Shield 2009" with the Russian navy in the Gulf of Aden.

Two guided-missile frigates and one supply ship took part in the exercise. The Russian navy dispatched a large anti-submarine ship, a comprehensive supply ship and one towing ship.

The exercise included communications and liaisons, assembling of the two naval escort task forces, and sailing maneuvers.

They also cooperated in examining suspected ships with helicopters and naval ships.

It's the first time the Chinese naval escort forces has conducted joint exercises with a foreign navy, in the mission area since the end of last year.

From the article, this certainly looks like the first joint exercise of this kind that China has had with any navy in its Somali patrols. On the PLAN side, they are involving 529, 530 (054A frigates) and 886 replenishment ship. The Russians are providing BPK 564 (Udaloy class) of Pacific fleet with tanker “Boris Butoma” and tugboat “MB-99”.

Looking at these pictures, I thought it's kind of interesting how nice and clean the PLAN ships are and how rusty and run-down the Russian ships look. I know that the Russian ship has been there maybe a month longer, but it's still looking far worse than it should. Of course, even after all the money and ships being diverted to PLAN, it still has not done as much long distance missions as the Russian Navy has in the past year. So, I do think there are a lot PLAN can learn from the Russians when it comes to long distance missions.

Recently, we also heard about the possibility of a joint exercise between PLAN, USN and RAN. That would certainly be a good learning experience. At this moment, I think PLAN is at least competent enough to not have to worry about embarrassing itself.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pictures on the Eve of the 60th Anniversary parade for PLA

The 60th anniversary is going to be held on October 1st of this year. Thankfully, they actually unveil a lot of new stuff at this event that happens every 10 years. The systems they are showing in the parade are already in Beijing. As mentioned in a recent article, China is unveiling 5 new missiles at the National Day Parade. I got a list of the missiles that will be on display and here they are.

The ones below are YJ-62 and YJ-83. These are just the anti-ship missiles in service with PLAN. For YJ-62, I think there are LACM and AShM versions of this missile.

The pictures below are showing CJ-10, CJ-10, DF-21C, DF-31A, DF-11A, DF-15B. These are probably the 5 missiles they mentioned in that article. CJ-10 is China's latest long range LACM. It had been described as DH-10 in the past, but the current parade calls it CJ-10 (long sword 10). DF-21C is the newest variant of China's DF-21 series (there was a lot of noise about it a while back as possibly the first MIRV MRBM). DF-31A is the newest variant of China's DF-31 ICBM. I'm not sure if this indicates that DF-31A is in service or not (I think it does). The final two missiles are the latest variant of the SRBMs in service with the 2nd Artillery. They are also probably the ones that China is fielding against Taiwan.

The pictures below are HH-9, HH-16, HQ-7, HQ-9 and HQ-12. HH-9 is the long range SAM on 052C. HH-16 is the medium range SAM on 054A. It looks very much like shtil series that it was rumoured to have been based upon. One has to remember that shtil series include 9M38, 9M38M1, 9M38M2, 9M317, 9M317M1, 9M317M2/3. HH-16's external appearance is definitely not the closest to 9M317M2/3, which is like the VLS variant of shtil. However, it does resemble more closely to some of the other variants. I don't have enough information to speculate how its performance are. HQ-7 is PLA's short range SAM. Strangely enough, it's really not in service in too many battalions if you check SOC's website. HQ-9 is China's new long range SAM. Its export version was pitted in the Turkey long range SAM competition. HQ-12 is China's high altitude medium range SAM. It has much inferior specs when compared to HQ-9, but actually joined service at about the same time (compared to HQ-9, it's more of a low cost replacement for HQ-2).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Latest pictures from PLAN

We've got a bunch of new photos recently from Dalian on Varyag and also HuDong shipyard on the 3rd unit of 054A from there and the 2nd F-22P.

I don't think they are actually taking down the island on Varyag any further, but it looks like they are going to modify it just from the look of the pictures.

Now, a bunch of pictures from the 3rd 054A of HD shipyard. Looks like they are almost ready for this ship to start sea trials.

And here are the more up close shots of 054A's foremast, the Sea Eagle volume search radar, Type 730 and AK-176M

And here is 252, the second unit of F-22P. The first one has already been handed over to PN

Some really up-close shots of 022. The first one shows its propulsion with name Kamewa, which was bought out by Rolls Royce. I think I read a while ago that Rolls Royce was supplying party of the propulsion system for 022. The second one shows the window of a 022 (I'm not sure why the colouring here is black and white), but I think the window edging was done that way to make it more stealthy. By the way, if you look at 022 closely, you will see that even the smallest windows using this kind of edging rather than the normal straight edges.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Recent Chinese civilian aviation news

There have been some news this week regarding a possible first flight of the naval flanker project. But as of this point, it's too vague to really look at. Aside from that, the biggest news this week was the appearance of the head of C-919 (China's big plan project) at CAC. The dimension of the head of C-919 are 7.9 m long by 3.96 m wide and 4.16 m high. Here are some pictures of it:

China is aiming to get this plane into service by 2016. I believe this is way too ambitious of a goal, but they are trying to basically develop something in the class of A-320/B-737 before their replacements are available.

This week, I read the best collection of Chinese civilian aviation articles on Flight Global. I highly suggest you to check out the link, which contains several articles. They are basically a summary of what I've been reading all summer from different sources. A really complete one.

Basically, the headlines include:
  • Unveiling of the C-919's head section at CAC and finishing initial design with maximum seating of 190, but standard arrangement of 168 seats
  • They also have plan for C-929 with maximum seating of 290.
  • First ARJ-21 completed a long distance test flight on 15 July 2009, flying from Shanghai to Xi'an in 2 hours 19 minutes, over a distance of 1,300 km. The second ARJ21 plane completed the same test flight from Shanghai to Xi'an on 24 August 2009.
  • Announcement for the completion on the research of the aerospace engine for C-919 by 2016
  • Assembling the first two A320 planes at the Tianjin plant, which is even more modern than the Hamburg plant. Additional work for Chinese suppliers on the Tianjin A320 planes.
  • SAC delivering the C-Series test barrel to Bombardier as part of its involvement in the project, which includes delivering the entire fuselage, tail-cone structure and wingboxes
  • SAC is also contracted for the fuselage and empennage of Bombardier's Q400 turboprop
  • Establishing Harbin as the premier helicopter factory in China as well as the leading player in composite materials

As you can see, there are a lot of things going on with the Chinese civilian aviation industry right now. Despite the economic recession around the world, the Chinese suppliers are actually prospering at this time. Compared to the shipbuilding industry and even the automobile industry, it still has a long way to go before being able to compete, but they do seem to have a lot of ambitions with the announcement of the C-919 and engine research deadlines.