Threat Analysis - Shenyang J-31

Discussion in 'China' started by sorcerer, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    Threat Analysis - Shenyang J-31

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    The Shenyang J-31 made its official debut at the Zhuhai 2014 airshow earlier this month after images were first leaked of the aircraft in 2012. The combination of limited transparency of China's defense industry combined with frequent disinformation efforts by the Chinese Government makes obtaining verifiable information on the J-31 extremely difficult. This article's objective is to provide reliable information from reputable aerospace and defense publications on the potential domestic use, stealth characteristics, avionics, export prospects, and strategic ramifications of the Shenyang J-31. Any conjecture or educated guesses made by the author are noted.

    Domestic Prospects - PLAAF

    The Chinese aerospace conglomerate, Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), maintains the J-31 is officially an export only aircraft and marketing materials at Zhuhai subsequently referred to the aircraft as the FC-31; fighter aircraft developed for the domestic market use the "J" designation in contrast to export aircraft which are assigned the "FC" designation such as the FC-1 fighter (Wong, 2014). However, given the limited transparency of the Chinese aerospace defense industry and the People's Liberation Army (PLA), its plausible that the aircraft could eventually enter service within the Chinese military. As Aviation Week observes, the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has consistently instituted a high-low mix fighter procurement strategy and either the 4.5 generation J-10B or the J-31 could hypothetically fulfill the low end spectrum with the J-20 serving as the high-end aircraft. The author is inclined to believe AVIC's remarks are legitimate given the separate public treatment between the J-31 and J-20. Under the assumption that the J-31 is an export only aircraft, the PLAAF must have a reason for choosing not to procure the J-31:

    "What looks like a thoroughly modern stealth fighter is apparently not good enough to serve as China's next medium-weight combat aircraft...The J-20 was revealed in late 2010 and appears to have made its first flight in January 2011. It was not promoted at Zhuhai. And therein lies a key piece of evidence of the status of the J-31. The J-20 was not at Zhuhai because it is not for sale and because China does not want to reveal too much about it. It is intended for the Chinese air force. Conversely, because the J-31 was exhibited at Zhuhai and is promoted as an export product, the Chinese air force obviously does not want it."- Perrett, Hewson, Johnson, & Sweetman, 2014


    One possibility is that the PLAAF's existing 4th generation fighter force of hundreds of Su-27SK, J-10A, J-11B, and J-10B aircraft will be operational well into the late 2020s and likely 2030s; China is still replacing its hundreds of third generation fighters such as the J-7. Therefore, the PLAAF does not have an immediate need for a low end replacement fighter aircraft in the near future and might be more concerned with the development of the high end J-20. Feng from the China Air and Naval Power blog discusses the possibility that the current J-31 design may not meet PLA requirements and it is possible the design could undergo major changes before eventually entering PLAAF service several years from now.

    Domestic Prospects - PLANAF
    The only operational J-31 demonstrator's nose landing gear features two side by side wheels, a common feature of carrier operated aircraft (Axe, 2014). Furthermore, a model J-31 was photographed on a Liaoning mock up in 2014. The combination of the nose wheels and the carrier mock up photographs has lead to speculation that the J-31 is being developed for the People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF)
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    Given the current design of the J-31 demonstrator, the nose landing gear along with photographs of a model J-31 on a Liaoning mock up are insufficient to prove future PLANAF service. Carrier aircraft often feature a host of other design changes necessary for operating on a carrier deck such as foldable wings, arresting gear (tail hook), additional structural support to address the increased stress of carrier landings and take offs, protective salt water corrosion coatings, etc. Furthermore, given China's ongoing difficulty in the development of its first carrier operated fighter, the J-15 "flying shark", the concurrent development of a much more technologically demanding carrier based stealth fighter would be a poor management of risk.

    As part of China's broader effort to reduce US influence in the Western Pacific and implement an anti-access area denial strategy, its future carrier air wings do not have to be as large or powerful as their American counterparts. Bryan McGrath and Seth Cropsey both observe that the purpose of China's carriers would be to weaken the US network of alliances in the Asia-Pacific rather than take on the US Pacific Fleet:

    "China is building the capability to project power from the sea in order to build its strength relative to its neighbors, primarily those with whom it has ongoing territorial seas claims (including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan). China does not need to build a navy as large or as powerful as the U.S. Navy in order to create fear and uncertainty among its neighbors. It only needs to build a navy with the credible means to project power over those neighbors’ shores.'...the strategic target of the PLAN in building a carrier force is not the U.S. Navy, but the network of alliances that longstanding U.S. economic and security interests in the region aim to preserve. Creating uncertainty and doubt in the minds of regional governments that the United States can continue to assure their security is at the heart of China’s desire to see the U.S. diminished in the region." - Bryan McGrath & Seth Cropsey, 2014



    In the near term, Chinese carrier groups with the J-15 would be sufficient to pressure US allied or sympathetic countries in the Western Pacific. In the event of hostilities, Chinese naval forces would require substantial land based missile and air support to mitigate which would be available within the first and second island chains. Furthermore, the addition of carrier based stealth fighters would not address the most significant threat to Chinese naval assets the Western Pacific, US attack submarines. Thus, China's broader strategic goals do not require stealth carrier based aircraft in the near term and the developmental risks of the concurrent development of the J-15 with a much more technologically demanding J-31 naval variant would be exceedingly high. As with the PLAAF, there is a remote possibility that the J-31 design could be adapted or be used as the basis for a new design for a future aircraft that would serve on China's yet to be constructed super carriers several years from now, but the probability that an aircraft similar to the current design will enter PLANAF service a few years from now is slim.

    Stealth & Airframe Characteristics
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    Image : Frontal aspect of J-31 demonstrator, note the intense smoke generated from the Russian RD-93 engines. The RD-93 is a variant of the RD-33 which was originally developed for the Mig-29 in the 1970s. The smoke from the rear of Mig-29 made it easier to track in visual range combat exercises between between Polish, German, and US forces after the end of the Cold War.


    The J-31 design makes use of planform alignment, the orientation of flight surfaces at a common angle to reflect incoming radar waves away from the source, to lower its radar cross section (rcs). The angle of the diverterless supersonic inlets (DSI) matches the angle of its vertical canted tails. Similarly, the 35° wing angles match those of the horizontal stabilizers. The use of planform alignment and DSI within the J-31 airframe strongly resembles rcs reduction techniques used on the Lockheed Martin F-35. The current J-31 demonstrator does not incorporate sawtooth engine nozzles or other forms of rcs reduction measures on the exposed RD-93 engines. Given that none of the four more technologically mature J-20 prototypes incorporate sawtooth engine nozzles or specially shaped thrust vectoring nozzles, as used by the F-22A, it is possible China does not value rear aspect stealth. Bill Sweetman explains the exposed engine nozzles for both the J-20 and Russian T-50:

    "The rear-aspect view of the aircraft is not as stealthy, a feature also seen on the Sukhoi T-50. This is clearly an intentional trade, eliminating the heavy 2D nozzles of the F-22. In this respect, both the T-50 and J-20 reflect the philosophy behind the pre-1986 Advanced Tactical Fighter studies that preceded the F-22, based on the theory that a fast, high-flying, agile aircraft is relatively immune from rear-quarter attacks." - Bill Sweetman, 2012

    All aspect stealth is critical when disabling an enemy's surface to air missile (SAMs) systems within an integrated air defense system (IADS). If an aircraft with only a forward stealth capability turns after missile release, it exposes its less stealthy rear aspect to enemy radars and it subsequently becomes vulnerable to SAMs.
    Russia and China field the largest respective SAM forces in the world including the S-300, HQ-9 and S-400 systems as part of their anti-access area denial strategies. Conversely, with the exception of the Patriot PAC-2, the United States mostly relies upon its fighter force to defend air space. Therefore, rear aspect stealth could be of less value to China and Russia relative to the United States given the comparatively few number of US SAM systems. The FC-31 model displayed at Zhuhai does incorporate sawtooth engine nozzles among other slight airframe and design changes from the J-31 demonstrator:

    "The airframe and control surfaces of the two aircraft are similar, comprising the low aspect ratio design and chined fuselage, with forward-swept engine intakes, 35° sweptback trapezoidal planform wings, and similarly-shaped tailplanes. However, the outward-canted twin vertical fins and rudders have now been updated, terminating in tips that are diametrically angled compared with the current design's flushed tips." - Kelvin Wong, 2014
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    Sawtooth engine nozzles on FC-31 display mock up at Zhuhai. Image Credit: Defense Update, 2014.

    As for estimates regarding the rcs of the J-31, no credible figures exist. Without the use of an identical J-31 mock up with rcs reduction treatments and a radar testing facility, its unlikely figures posted online can be verified. In the case of the PAK FA, patent documents filed by Sukhoi indicated the aircraft had a much larger rcs than previously estimated by numerous online sources at between 0.1m^2 and 1m^2; The 1m^2 figure likely refers to the rear of the aircraft and the 0.1m^2 the comparatively more stealthy frontal aspect. In comparison the F-22A has a frontal rcs of 0.0001m^2 or - 40 dBSM and the F-35 has a frontal rcs between 0.005m^2 and 0.001m^2 or - 30 dBSM (Global Security & Kopp, 2011). Given the relative secrecy of Shenyang, its unlikely that similar patent documents will be available within the public domain. However, there is good reason to be skeptical of assessments which assert the J-31 is as stealthy or stealthier than the F-35; Shenyang still has difficulty with basic quality control on its fourth generation production fighters. Low observability is notoriously hard to maintain as small manufacturing discrepancies that undermine planform alignment or the radar-absorbent material coatings can negate rcs reductions.

    "Quality control, in general, could undermine the J-31’s biggest apparent selling point: its ability to evade radar. 'The potential problem with Chinese- and Russian-construction stealth fighters is that if there’s a bolt out of place, it shows up on a radar signature...Russian and Chinese construction is typically much looser.'”- Robert Farley, 2014

    A US intelligence official reporting to Defense News indicated China's domestic built copy of Russia's Su-27SK fighter, the J-11B, has experienced numerous crashes due to manufacturing issues (Axe, 2013). Furthermore, China's efforts to illegally obtain US aviation grade carbon fiber also suggests the Chinese aerospace industry is experiencing ongoing difficulties in the production of high quality aircraft materials.


    This is not to say the J-31 or FC-31 is not a low observable aircraft, but one should be skeptical of extraordinarily low J-31 rcs estimates. As a caveat, its also worth noting that the J-31 does not need to match US 5th generation low observability qualities to be a significant threat to US or allied forces. US fourth generation aircraft, specifically the legacy hornet and F-16C (after the cancellation of the CAPES upgrade program) would likely have significant difficulties in detecting the J-31 from the frontal aspect. Furthermore, as Part II will discuss, many of the countries interested in potentially acquiring the FC-31 would be satisfied with a moderately reduced rcs aircraft. Part II will also discuss the avionics and strategic ramifications of the Shenyang J-31

    Source:American Innovation: Threat Analysis of Foreign Stealth Fighters: Shenyang J-31 Part I


    @pmaitra, @Kunal Biswas, @bengal raider, @sgarg, @cobra commando and all other awesome people in here.
     
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  3. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    China's Anti Access Strategy Part II: Air Power
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    The anti-access strategy discussed in Part I was largely created in response to the overwhelming defeat of the Iraqis by the Coalition forces in the 1991 Gulf War. The Iraqis had used many of the same Soviet and Chinese built weapon systems employed by the Chinese military at the time. Many of these weapon systems used by the Iraqis (e.g. J-7, Type 69, etc.) were minimally effective in combat against Collation forces. The extent of the Iraqi defeat caught China's military establishment off guard.

    “The 1991 Persian Gulf War sent shockwaves throughout China’s military community and accelerated the PLA’s modernization and shifts in strategy. The United States’ overwhelming dominance in that conflict led Chinese military leaders to push for advanced military technologies.” - RAND, 2011

    The People's Army Liberation Air Force (PLAAF) was a major beneficiary of China's new anti-access strategy. Since the Gulf War, the PLAAF has made major revisions and improvements to its pilot training programs, acquired several hundred capable 4th generation fighter aircraft, hardened its base infrastructure and procured much more capable munitions. Despite the incredible increase in capabilities since the early 1990s, the PLAAF still be incapable of global power projection. The PLAAF has neglected the development of air assets that assist in beyond regional power projection (e.g. tanker aircraft, new long range strategic bombers, securing forward deployed bases for aircraft in other countries, etc.). As stated in Part I, the PLAAF has been tasked with the goal of projecting power out to the second island chain by 2020 with the intent of denying a foreign military force from intervening on behalf of Taiwan. The PLAANAF and PLAAF would seek to establish regional air superiority, deny US sortie generation/basing, and destroy hostile surface vessels (RAND, 2008). This article will explain the role of the PLAAF and the People's Army Liberation Navy Air Force (PLANAF) in China's anti-access strategy and the changes two forces will undergo up to 2020.

    Composition
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    Despite the recent media attention about China's stealth fighter programs, the bulk of China's air superiority capability will consist of non-stealthy 4th fighter generation aircraft for at least another decade. The majority of China's 3rd generation fighter and attack aircraft (e.g. J-7, J-8, J-8II) will be phased out by 2020. China acquired Su-30MKK, Su-30MKK2 and Su-27SK aircraft from Russia during the 1990s. Since the early 2000s, the PLAAF and PLANAF have procured hundreds of 4th generation indigenous fighter aircraft (e.g. J-10, J-11, J-15). The J-10 is the PLAAF's main light fighter aircraft and delivers comparable performance to the F-16C. The J-11A is a domestically produced Su-27SK built by Shenyang from Sukhoi supplied kits. The Su-27SK (and J-11A) are comparable to the F-15C. Both the J-10A and J-11A will receive an assortment of upgrades to keep them viable into the 2020s.

    "By the year 2011 China was the operator of the world's second largest fleet of Flankers, with about 73 Su-30MKK and 24 J-11B attack aircraft, 43 Su-17SK and 95 J-11A fighters, 40 Su-27UBK trainers in service with the PLAAF [for a total of 275], and at least 24 in service with the PLAN, for a grand total of about 300 airframes." - Global Security, 2013

    In regards to the 5th generation J-20, the Department of Defense predicts the first J-20s to enter service in early 2018. Judging from the F-22 Raptor's production and deliveries schedule, I estimate that, at the very most, two full operational fighter squadrons will be in service by 2020 (48 aircraft). The Raptor production schedule should provide some indication as to how many aircraft can feasibly be produced a year but estimate should not be taken to be definitive. There is no officially released production schedule for the J-20 and its unclear how many J-20's China wants to procure in total.

    Estimated J-20 Timeline

    2011 – 2014(?) Tests
    Production 2014-(?)
    If: IOC 2018-2019
    - Late 2011 to 2014 (2015) Testing and development ~3 years
    - 2015 first lot order
    - 2017 first deliveries
    - 2018 IOC fleet size ~30 jets with 1 operational FS and ~8 T&E aircraft
    - 2020 fleet size 50-60 aircraft total with 36-48 operational aircraft

    Note: Not all aircraft will enter service as some aircraft will serve in a test and evaluation role while other airframes will be stored for attrition reserve. The role of the J-20 in China's anti-access strategy will be its own article for the sake of brevity. A link will be posted once it is completed.

    In regards to the J-31: According to Avic, a Chinese aerospace consortium, the J-31 is an export only aircraft and will not serve the Chinese military (Aviation Week, 2013).

    The PLAAF will continue to lack a sufficient number of dedicated tanker aircraft.
    The current PLAAF tanker fleet consists of a few modified H-6 bombers. The majority of these aircraft operate from Leiyang air base. Although the Chinese strategy focuses on regional power projection, the lack of tanker aircraft will limit China's ability to project power out to the second island chain. The only PLAAF asset that can engage targets in the second island chain is the H-6. The H-6 a Cold War relic that would probably not survive a conventional bombing mission over enemy territory unless complete air superiority was achieved. China has subsequently upgraded the H-6 to carry a series of powerful indigenous and Russian cruise missiles. These missiles will make the H-6 an effective standoff weapon platform and significantly augments the PLAAF's anti-ship capabilities.

    China is also struggling to develop a capable airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft. Currently, the KJ-2000 is the only capable AWACS aircraft fielded by the PLAAF.

    The list below is from Global Security and shows the complete PLAAF aircraft inventory. The chart has not been modified since the debut of the J-31 hence the use of the J-21 designation. Also, please note that China classifies its generation of aircraft differently from the West. The Chinese classification system is a generation behind the West. For example, a third generation aircraft by the Chinese system is a fourth generation aircraft by the Western system and a fifth generation aircraft by the Western system is a fourth generation aircraft by Chinese standards.

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    Strategy

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    H-6 Bomber with a YJ-63 cruise missile.

    Note: The following is the best possible case scenario for China. There are a number of options the US and its allies can pursue to defeat China's anti-access strategy which I can discuss in another article provided there is interest.

    Although the PLAAF will lack a significant number of 5th generation aircraft until the mid to late 2020s, the sheer number of 4th generation aircraft deployed by the PLAAF (and PLANAF) is enough to deter any potential regional adversary. In order to achieve air superiority in the region, the PLAAF and PLANAF must disable or destroy both US regional bases and US carriers. The United States only maintains one airbase within 500 nautical miles of the Taiwanese strait (Kadena). Comparatively, China operates 27 airbases within 500 nautical miles of the Taiwanese strait. Chinese strategic planners know American carrier groups will inevitably attempt to bolster Taiwanese and regional US forces in the event of large scale hostilities. Its reasonable to assume the US would deploy three to four carrier strike groups which would partially erode China's numerical superiority provided they survive a gauntlet of several hundred medium range ballistic missiles (MRBM) and cruise missiles. Forward deployed Flankers armed with cruise missiles could target US vessels 1350 km (729 nautical miles) away from mainland China (RAND, 2008). H-6 Bombers armed with DH-10 cruise missiles could strike targets more than 3,000 km or 1620 nautical miles away from mainland China (Department of Defense, 2011). China's strategic missile force will be discussed in greater detail in subsequent articles but the PLA Second Artillery Corps would preform a pivotal role in the conflict. The much touted DF-21D "carrier killer" MRBM could threaten US carrier strike groups 2,000 km or 1080 nautical miles from China (Department of Defense, 2011).

    In regards to land bases further than 500 nautical miles from China, the United States has several bases in South Korea and Japan. With the use of tanker aircraft, USAF aircraft operating from Misawa (J), Yakota (J), Iwakuni (J), Osan (SK), Kunsan (SK), and Anderson air force base could reach the Taiwanese strait or attack mainland China. However, Chinese short range ballistic missiles (SRBM) and MRBMs would pose a significant threat to all the bases listed above except Anderson AFB in Guam. Chinese strategic planers know the US currently maintains a qualitative advantage in terms of aircraft. Consequently, the easiest way to deal with the qualitatively superior US force is to destroy the aircraft on the ground before they become a threat in the air. The majority of US bases in the region are "soft" or are only semi-hardened which makes them vulnerable to a SRBM or MRBM strike with cluster munition warheads. In a scenario created by RAND, 144/243 aircraft operating at Kadena would be destroyed in a SRBM cluster munition strike. See Air Combat Past, Present and Future by John Stillion and Scott Perdue for more details. The remaining US forces will experience a massive hit to sortie generation as their runways will be damaged and the debris make operations hazardous (to aircraft engines). In the meantime, PLAAF and PLANAF aircraft can engage and destroy the remaining aircraft.

    The PLAAF and PLANAF will play a pivotal role in implementing China's anti-access strategy. Chinese aircraft can easily project power out to the first island chain and are well on their way to achieving second island chain power projection by 2020. Although China's fighter aircraft are technologically inferior to their US counterparts, the sheer number of deployed Chinese forces will pose a serious threat to the United States and its allies in the event of hostilities.
     
  4. cobra commando

    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

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    China's newly unveiled J-31 stealth fighter has received bad reviews at home and abroad after making its first public demonstration flight during the biennial Zhuhai Airshow in the southern province of Guangdong. The criticism of J-31, China's second fifth-generation fighter jet, mainly stems from the dark exhaust emitting from the jet's engine, which indicates the engine's poor efficiency in burning fuel. There are two types of engines used on the J-31 jets — the RD-93 used by Russia's MiG-29 fighters will be fitted to those intended for foreign clients, while the ones deployed by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) will have the WS-13 engine developed from the RD-93. It is unclear which type of engine the J-31 on display in Zhuhai used. Meanwhile, PLA Navy Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong said in a speech in Xiamen on Nov. 17 that China's reverse engineering still has its limitations, and that it will take the country another few years to achieve a breakthrough in developing its own engines. Zhang said the development of a jet engine involves mechanics and digital control, and the former is far more easy to master than the latter. "This part is too difficult and not something that can be achieved successly in a short time," he said. Zhang also believes that the J-31 jet is too heavy. Meanwhile, [highlight]Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said prospects for the J-31 jet's export market are not as positive as many have described. Aboulafia said countries buying Chinese military hardware are mainly poor, with Pakistan the largest customer[/highlight], and China may have to find new clients for the higher-end fifth-generation fighters.


    Read more:
    J-31 stealth jet gets bad reviews after Zhuhai Airshow flight|Politics|News|WantChinaTimes.com
     
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  5. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    China Has F-35 Fever

    Denmark is the latest customer for the new American F-35 fighter to report that local companies and military organizations involved in F-35 work were hit by numerous and frequent hacker attacks since 2008. The hackers were mainly interested in F-35 material and got a lot of it. China was named as the main suspect.


    The Chinese already have a growing collection of F-35 material from other sources. In 2012 British aircraft manufacturer BAE confirmed that Chinese hackers gained access to classified BAE aircraft design files in 2009. This included data on the American F-35 fighter, which BAE is helping to develop and build. BAE was working on the F-35 fuselage, portions of the wings and tail, the fuel system, crew escape system, life support and integration of British components for the British F-35s. All or much of the date on these items was apparently taken by the Chinese hackers.

    In 2009 there were claims that unknown hackers had breached Department of Defense Internet security and stolen terabytes (millions of megabytes) of classified data on the F-35. This caused considerable alarm. The Department of Defense and the manufacturer (Lockheed Martin) denied that this penetration and theft took place. But it was later revealed that there had been hacker attacks and eventually China was found to be the culprit.

    China has since developed two “stealth” fighter designs, both of which have elements very similar to the F-35.

    China Has F-35 Fever
     
  6. carp

    carp New Member

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    well, sounds like J-31 is just a piece of junk but everyone saying so keeps talking about it with intense interest, wierd....
     
  7. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    Just how good is China's new 'stealth' fighter?

    Zhuhai, Guangdong Province (CNN) -- Zhuhai's Air Show has always been a venue for surprises, usually first-time showings of advanced Chinese military hardware.

    China's pathologically secretive defense industry normally shows nothing official of its weapons programs to anyone, which makes the biennial Zhuhai expo the only chance to see what its weapons makers have been up to.

    Much has been written in the past few years about China's defense sector developing increasingly more capable weapons systems that approach the capability of their U.S. and European analogues.

    Some Chinese weapons, such as a full range of anti-ship and air-to-surface missiles, seem to show that its military -- the People's Liberation Army (PLA) -- is equipped to challenge U.S. Navy carrier battle groups and potentially deny the U.S. the ability to operate in certain areas of the Pacific. But questions remain about how battle-ready the PLA is and whether it can function in a modern, network-centric warfare environment.

    Battlefield autonomy

    Today's battlefield operates on the premise that autonomy should be pushed down to the lowest level -- even down to the man in the field -- because time is of the essence. Getting inside of the enemy's "decision loop" is the key to victory. But, giving individual units the ability to make their own tactical decisions without their orders being delivered from several layers up the chain of command is an anathema to the "control uber alles" mentality of the Chinese leadership.

    In terms of new weapons, the number one attraction at Zhuhai this year was the new Shenyang FC-31 fighter. It has generated a good deal of excitement as it's the first time a new Chinese military aircraft has been unveiled while still in the early stages of development -- we usually have to wait until after they start serving in the PLA's air force.

    The FC-31 is designed to look like a stealth fighter aircraft in the class of the American Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It is also the second, but smaller, stealth-type design to be developed by China. The FC-31's "Big Brother," the Chengdu J-20, first flew in January 2011 but has been shrouded in secrecy ever since.

    The FC-31 "looks" stealthy and its shape mimics that of the F-35 in some respects. But it is impossible to tell just how successful the Shenyang design team has been in developing an aircraft with a low radar cross section without knowing the materials used, the placement of the engines inside the aircraft, and how well the heat signature from the engines has been suppressed by the design of the exhaust nozzle section.


    Flawed design?

    Like other PLAAF fighter aircraft, the FC-31 is powered by Russian-made jet engines, in this case two Klimov RD-93 models, which are a specialized variant of the same engine that powers the famous Mikoyan "MiG-29." There have been rumors that a team of renegade designers from the Mikoyan bureau in Moscow assisted Shenyang in the development of the aircraft, but a senior MiG official stated "no, as far as I know they [the Chinese] completed this design themselves, and they seem to have done a good job on their own."

    The MiG official may be correct. An aircraft of this type designed with Russian assistance would probably perform better.


    The FC-31's flight routine shows that it "bleeds" too much energy -- so when it enters into a turn it begins to lose altitude. Even during straight and level flight the pilot has to engage the engine's afterburners in order to keep the aircraft from sinking to a lower altitude. These are defects in the aircraft's aerodynamic design that a Russian design team would not have made.


    Western aerospace analysts point out that the FC-31 flown at Zhuhai is a "clean" jet in that it is not armed, which means that an aircraft configured for a real mission and fitted with weapons would be even heavier and would perform even worse.

    Timing a coincidence?

    So, why has the PLAAF chosen to exhibit an aircraft that is either overweight, underpowered or both?

    It could be an oblique signal to Washington timed to coincide with President Barack Obama's visit to Beijing for the APEC summit. The underlying message: "China is stronger than you think."


    This would not be the first such example of China trying to use its defense industry to flex its muscles. In January 2011, when the J-20 first flew, then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Beijing for an official visit. His read was that the timing of the two events was in no way coincidental.

    Unfortunately for the PLA, the gesture falls flat.

    Many would have been more impressed by the FC-31 in photos posted on Chinese websites than after seeing it actually fly at the air show.

    Looks can be deceiving, as they say.

    Just how good is China's new 'stealth' fighter? - CNN.com
     
  8. J20!

    J20! Senior Member Senior Member

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    Dude, you need to relax. FC31 is the FIRST FLYING PROTOTYPE built by AVIC with no PLA funding. Compare it with the YF22 or X35 not production or pre-production airframes like the F22 or F35.

    The X35 in particular looked even less of a finished product than the FC31. Look up some photos and compare the two for yourself. Heck! Compare the X35 and
    the F35 if you want to know the difference between an initial prototype and a pre-production airframe.

    OFCOURSE ITS OVERWEIGHT AND UNDERPOWERED people!!! It's the first flying prototype!

    All this angst over an aircraft that hasn't even seen its second flying prototype take to the air yet is premature at best and smacks of desperation at worst.


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  9. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    @J20!
    Sharing posts about a much hyped fighter is not angst. Its sharing content to find and coorelate to find some truths. seggregate facts from fiction.
    F-31 is a flying prototype for sure. But my comment was based on the fact that, when you put a show for people and pitch in for sale, generally the eyes look for details to appreciate the work..ya know something like "first Impression" thingy. My point was, somehow that lacked- the Hype meets substance factor.
    Prototypes of F35 looks mucho better mate.

    Nobody cares if its underpowered or over weight, cuz every country is developing one or the other for the world market and theres a lot of choice out there for anybody.
     
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  10. J20!

    J20! Senior Member Senior Member

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    Really? The X35 looked even more unfinished than the FC31; even the FC31 looks more like the production F35 than the X35 did:

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    The FC31 has been displayed at Zuhai to stir up interest from foreign airforces, not to show case a production standard airframe. All this analysis based on the first flying prototype cannot reflect the flight characteristics of the PRODUCTION FC31.

    Just as F35's operational performance couldn't possibly be determined from observing X35, no valid performance analysis could be made from the FC31 as is. Even analysing AVIC's mock-ups of the production varient would be more telling:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  11. Srinivas_K

    Srinivas_K Senior Member Senior Member

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    India's AMCA prototype is not that far way!
     
  12. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    @J20!
    That seems perfectly logical..
    Putting an underperforming machine in front of the whole world and trying to create 'world class' hype which could outfly the J-31 itself.
    In my understanding, usually, the prototypes sticks to the technical standards stipulated when it is put in front of the world for a show.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  13. Hari Sud

    Hari Sud Senior Member Senior Member

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    Add the forgoing very negative comments about j -31 from the Chinese Admiral also.

    Why India shouldn’t be concerned about Chinese J-31 Fighter aircraft Published November 21, 2014

    Copied from idrw.org Why India shouldn’t be concerned about Chinese J-31 Fighter aircraft | idrw.org


    SOURCE : IDRW NEWS NETWORK ( INN ) China’s Second Stealth fighter aircraft Shenyang J-31 or FC-31 developed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation came under Heavy Criticism from non other but from its own General . one of the official commentators of People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong instead of making tall claims of the fighter aircraft , took pot shots at the whole J-31 fighter aircraft program . Zhang told the state-run People’s Daily newspaper that the J-31 was never built with China’s military in mind and also dismissed Internet rumors that Chinese Navy is considering development of aircraft carrier variant of J-31 for use from future Chinese aircraft carriers . He also cleared that Objective of J-31 is to position Chinese fighter aircraft in Export market for those who cannot afford Expensive Stealth fighter aircrafts like American made F-35 or Russian made Pak-Fa . In his own words He described J-31 has a low Cost, low-end stealth fighter primarily designed for export like JF-17 which was also designed to replace older Soviet Mig-21’s and which was never used by its own air force . Zhang also made stunning observation that J-31 is too heavy for aircraft in its class and also questioned use of older Russian RD-93 in the aircraft , same engine is also used by Russia’s MiG-29 fighter aircraft which was developed way back 30 years ago . China plans to offer J-31 with two engine option Russian provided RD-93 engine which is also used by JF-17 or the WS-13 engine developed from the RD-93 . Since Pakistani JF-17 are still using Russian provided RD-93 and not the Chinese copy WS-13 it indicates that the engine is not fully operational nor it is capable to be used has a regular engine due to presiding technical problems it is still facing and Recent order placed by China for more RD-93 engine from Russia only further cements this claims of unreliability of WS-13 engines . Zhang too in his speech made reference to limitation of Reverse engineering of Engines and How China is yet few years away from mastering complex engine technology and why it is still depended on Russian engines for its domestic fighter aircraft programs . In Zhuhai Airshow Chinese media declared that Pakistani is very much interested in J-31 Fighter aircrafts and might be first Export customer for the same fighter . Well when it comes to Pakistani Military establishment any thing which comes with ” Friendly Price tag ” or with Never ending ” Soft loan ” are always welcomed with open arms , idrw.org had confirmed in past how Pakistan couldn’t even afford to Purchase fourth generation J-10 fighter aircrafts from china . China literally had to make excuse that J-10 has Export Ban and was not cleared by Chinese Government authority to stop Pakistani advances for Friendly Payment terms for Purchase . Are we also forgetting Pakistani air forces phobia of not operating Twin engine fighter aircrafts since it not only raises Operational and Manpower cost but also contributes to Higher fuel cost while providing same level of flight hours to its pilots . Even if Pakistan do end up buying J-31 , numbers put forward by media is only of 36-40 aircrafts which will be little over Two Squadrons , not enough to Change Air power Superiority in the region since India’s has its own plans to Induct 150+ FGFA / PAk-FA along with 126 French built Rafales . Many Western analyst have said that prospects for the J-31 jet’s export market are not as positive as many in Chinese media has described. Countries with stronger economies, bigger defense budgets will not be interested in J-31 .

    Copied from idrw.org Why India shouldn’t be concerned about Chinese J-31 Fighter aircraft | idrw.org
     
  14. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Two third generation engines do not combine to make a fifth generation plane.
     
  15. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    beauty of a plane except that , well you see the engine emmmm, errr you know ..............err hehehhehe kinda like eh
    hehehehheh ( embarass !! ) heheheh well ,,errr yhouuu seee.....welllll anywa ehhh made in russia ! ahhhhhhhh
     
  16. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    exactly !! .......2 wrongs dont make a white ......you know .......

    beauty of a plane except that , well you see the engine emmmm, errr you know ..............err hehehhehe kinda like eh
    hehehehheh ( embarass !! ) heheheh well ,,errr yhouuu seee.....welllll anywa ehhh made in russia ! ahhhhhhhh
     
    sorcerer likes this.
  17. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    I read some comment on the internet that said, J-31 looked stealth againt the smog filled sky.
     

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