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Chinese Air to Air Capability: Where is it?

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posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 03:28 PM
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Hi everyone,

I am new to the boards, but I have lurked for a while and I have always wanted to discuss this with some of the other aviation 'junkies' on this board.

What is the real capability of the Chinese Air Force? I know there has been a lot of discussion about the new fighters that China is producing and if they are comparable to other Western or Russian designs. I have not seen any discussion of real world capability. We have all seen and read reports of engagements by USAF aircraft in the various conflicts we have been involved with over the years, and we have a pretty good idea of the Russian's capabilities, but what about China? Have they been in any recent conflicts where they have used air power? What were the results? A lot of talk goes around about how Chinese made equipment is 'junk' or 'useless'....Is this based on fact? There is always the lack of clear information coming from China, especially when it comes to its military capability, which can make this (for me) a hard nut to crack.

My personal theory is that while China has increased is manufacturing capacity and quality over the past two decades, I do not think that the complex subsystems like engines, radar, EW, and BVR combat are at the levels that the Chinese government claim it is. I of course, being only an armchair aviator can be sorely misguided. I think China can build a good maneuverable airframe, and maybe some subsystems, but I think the engines, and electronics are still too complex for their current manufacturing base. I am sure they could build something 'comparable', but with decreased efficiancy, and/or capability.

Of course, I could be full of S***.... That is why I am here.




posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 03:56 PM
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reply to post by armchairaviator
 


Welcome to ATS armchairaviator!!


Well, the chinese produce the SU 27 under licence and under their own call sign: The J11.

So at least they got a good base to start with.

What the Chinese are missing is combat expierince because they didnt had any major military confrontations since a few decades so we need a real and a pretty big and longduring conflict to see if their words are true or that the cliche that Chinese = Bad copy, Realy applies.

Russia and the USA have plenty off war expierince so it is realy hard to tell unless China goes to war.

But still welcome at ATS and enjoy your stay here
!



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 04:20 PM
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Thank you for putting out the welcome mat!

I agree that we would need to see some real world combat experience to make a definitive statement. Not that I am looking for anyone to start a war with China, but if there are any takers....do you mind taking good notes so the rest of us can read them when you are through?

I would love to get a hold of maintenance records for some of the J-11s and maybe some other older models, just to see how the aircraft are holding up, and if the Chinese built versions are as good as the Russian built ones. I know that Russia wouldn't give China all of its best gizmo's and electronic whatnots, but I wonder for example if their BVR missiles and radar are comparable to an AIM 120 (Early models) or if it is more like a Sparrow, or other SARAH in terms of capability. China says they have an active seeker BVR missile, but what can it really do? If there are any defecting Chinese pilots or maintenance crews out there who would like to shed some light on this, I would appreciate it!



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 05:12 PM
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Welcome


Unless I am mistaken the deals the Chinese cut with the Soviets for the Su-27 etc also included weapons for the platform (otherwise they would be pretty useless)

Here is a pretty good list of current missiles in chinas inventory

www.globalsecurity.org...

It seems that most of the current inventory is based on Russian technology.



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 05:32 PM
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The PLAAF (People's Liberation Army Air Force) is, I believe, about the third largest in the world. Primarily the aircraft are older things like J-7's and whatnot that aren't really remarkable other than the number of them, but there are a few (relatively) new things that require attention.

J-11: The J-11 is really just the Su-27SK manufactured under Chinese license. It's not an amazing aircraft but the Su-27 is a reasonably good platform for most duties, but it's what comes after this that's a tad more important. For, you see, they decided the J-11 wasn't quite enough, so they signed on for the:

Su-30 MKK: Considered an upgraded Su-30 (although it's really just more built to customer spec than upgraded), it's coming to be the "standard" platform. China operates about 100 IIRC. Some are the original MKK des, but some were further ordered as an even more upgraded version, called the MKK2, and to my knowledge are operated by the Naval Air Force in China. An MKK3 version was proposed, but the Su-30 platform doesn't actually have enough power to run all the upgrades (the main one being the proposed radar, Irbis-E, requiring double the power supplied by the aircraft), which might just end in China buying even newer Flankers like Su-35s.

J-10: This was an indigenous, top-secret project by the PLAAF, it was designed as a fighter/maritime/strike platform. It was under tight wraps for quite some time, until late 2006 when the rumours were proven true. Sticking true to history, it incorporates Russian tech in the form of the AL-31FN (although an indigenous engine was developed, I don't believe there are plans to equip it). There are currently A and B versions, single- and double- seaters respectively, as well as rumours of a Super-10 which would have two engines and just generally be bigger and nastier.

Also, as far as Chinese missiles go, I think that the closest indigenous to the AIM-120 would be the PL-12, which looks to be about on-par with the earlier Slammers. Again, it has Russian tech in it, too.

Finally, welcome. Good to see new faces on ATS Aircraft, particularly with something intelligent to say.



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 05:39 PM
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China initially purchased 80 Su-27 and now manufactures it's own copies under license as the J-11. Along with that deal it has acquired the Vympel R-27 BVR missile with dual seeker .s known also as the AA-10 Alamo.

China also has an off boresight, helmet sighted dogfighting missile, the PL-9 which is basically the Isreali Python 4.

China also has the Vympel R-77, plus the air to surface Kh-31 (NATO AS-17)

In exercise Churinga 98 between Australian F/A-18 and Malaysian Mig-29s, the F/A-18s could not get near the Mig-29s when equipped with long range missiles.

China has also refurbished Varyaag at Dalian and it has now been renamed Shi-lang after a Chinese general who invaded Taiwan about 1869.

Shi Lang now has about two dozen Su-27UB (twin seat) navalised fighters.

The J-10 is a canard fighter in the same class as Rafale, Eurofighter and the F-16. It is more of a point defence fighter. It has the Zhuk 8II radar capable of scanning 24 targets and engaging 8 simultaneously at a range up to 80 km.

China has the JH-7 which looks like a twin seat Jaguar on steroids. Undoubtedly this will be supersonic when necessary and armed with Kh-31.

I have heard of the FC-1 light multi role fighter which seems like an F-16 with two side rather than one chin mounted intake.

The F-8II is an improved Mig-21 copy with Zhuk 8II radar which uses either PL-9 or P-73 missiles, which make it a dogfighting match for the F-16.

The earlier unimproved Mig-21 was the J-7.

Lastly China has a long range J-12 Stealth aircraft which may be equivalent to the F-22 Raptor.










[edit on 18-3-2008 by sy.gunson]



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 06:48 PM
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reply to post by sy.gunson
 




China also has an off boresight, helmet sighted dogfighting missile, the PL-9 which is basically the Isreali Python 4.


PL-9 is not basically a Python 4. It is based on the Python 3, which is a whole lot less capable than the 4. Good open source info linked below:

Link




In exercise Churinga 98 between Australian F/A-18 and Malaysian Mig-29s, the F/A-18s could not get near the Mig-29s when equipped with long range missiles.


Not sure what this has to do with Chinese missiles. Not to mention the fact that Aus was flying Sparrow at the time, and there were, shall we say, artificialities associated with load outs and Rules of Engagment that constrained Australian assets.




Lastly China has a long range J-12 Stealth aircraft which may be equivalent to the F-22 Raptor.


Source? Are you talking about the XXJ (or J-XX, or whatever people want to call it?) If you are, it is far from operational.

China have some good missile systems, and have learned a lot from Russian and Israeli technology transfer (approved or otherwise...). The PL-12 is the most current missile, though I wouldn't put it up there with later model AIM120Cs, and certainly not with AIM120D. The Su-30MKKs are great aircraft, and Chinese pilots will improve as they develop their BVR tactics.



[edit on 18-3-2008 by Willard856] Edit to change 3 to 4 in the first para.

[edit on 18-3-2008 by Willard856]



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 07:29 PM
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You're quite incorrect Willard. The Chinese license built Python 3 is the PL-8 AAM. The improved PL-9C is a helmet sighted off boresight missile based on the Python 3 broadly equivalent to the Python 4.



China also has an off boresight, helmet sighted dogfighting missile, the PL-9 which is basically the Isreali Python 4.


Willard you need to read more carefully what I said before flying off into histronics.

www.sinodefence.com...

I said "basically..."



Therefore China integrated the Python 3 IR seeker with an indigenous missile airframe ...


The improved PL-9C is "basically" the license built Python 3, upgraded to Python 4 standard.



The PL-9 features an all-aspects cryogenic liquid nitrogen gas-cooled seeker infrared-homing seeker . unit utilising proportional navigation guidance techniques. The missile seeker ’s off-boresight capability is said to be better than that of the AIM-9L/M Sidewinder missile, and comparable to the Russian R-73 (AA-11 Archer). 607 Institute has improved upon the PL-9 by marrying it to the Chinese indigenous helmet-mounted sight (HMS), which is similar to the Arsenel helmet sight from the Russian R-73. A Chinese brochure credits the helmet sight with a 60 degrees off-boresight capability, or a 120 degrees field of fire. At the November 1996 Zhuhai Air Show, a Chengdu (CAC) engineer confirmed that the PL-9 HMS will be fitted onto the F-7MG fighter.





The improved PL-9C was introduced in the 1990s.


axa.instinct.co.nz...( missile)



The People's Republic of China was impressed with its performance and license-built the Python-3 as the PL-8 AAM.


PYTHON 3:



China's PLAAF was quite impressed with this missile, and paid for licensed production as the PL-8 AAM in 1980s.PL-8 Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile, SinoDefence.com, 9 April, 2006. The program code named "Number 8 Project" (八号工程) and formally started on September 15, 1983. From March 1988 to April 1989, technology transfer to China was complete while license assembly and license built parts continued, and by the spring of 1989, the complete domestic Chinese built missile received state certification. The major supplier of the missile was Xi'an Eastern Machinery Factory (西安东方机械厂) located at Xi'an, and China is also reported to have developed a helmet-mounted sight (HMS) system for the PL-8.



PYTHON 4:



The Python-4 is a 4th generation AAM with all-aspect attack capability, and integration with a helmet-mounted sight (HMS) system. It entered service in the 1990s, and like its predecessor Python 3, it is integrated with the Elbit Systems DASH (Display and Sight Helmet) HMS system for Israeli F-15s and F-16s. The missile's seeker is reported to use dual band technology array similar to that of US FIM-92 Stinger (infrared and ultraviolet), with IRCCM (IR ECCM) capability to reduce background IR radiation to reduce the effectiveness of enemy flares.Carlo Kopp, "Fourth Generation AAMs - The Rafael Python 4", Australian Aviation, April 1997.


Stealth J-12:

www.defencetalk.com...







Also known as the "XXJ," this fifth generation PLAAF fighter, is currently projected to enter service in the 2013-2015 timeframe. The aircraft is projected to have a crew of two, is anticipated to be in same class as US F-22 fighter, probably based on significant Russian technical assistance.


www.globalsecurity.org...








[edit on 18-3-2008 by sy.gunson]



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 07:54 PM
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The PL-9C doesn't have the manoeuvrability, the off-boresight capability, the IRCCM, or the range of the Python 4. So it isn't even close to being "basically" a Python 4. What it is, to use your terminology, is basically a Python 3 in an indigenous airframe. Your initial post equated the PL-9 with the Python 4, which is totally and utterly wrong.

On the J-12/XXJ:

From your linked quote:

"is currently projected to enter service in the 2013-2015 timeframe"

which is a big change from, as you said, "China has a long range J-12 Stealth aircraft". Also given that your picture shows a single seat aircraft, and your quoted text suggests it will be a two-seat aircraft, I guess we can assume that lack of data doesn't allow us to add it to an assessment of current Chinese air to air capability?



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 08:31 PM
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The PL-9C doesn't have the manoeuvrability, the off-boresight capability, the IRCCM, or the range of the Python 4. So it isn't even close to being "basically" a Python 4. What it is, to use your terminology, is basically a Python 3 in an indigenous airframe. Your initial post equated the PL-9 with the Python 4, which is totally and utterly wrong.


The Python 3 is the PL-8... get that in your ..

The PL-9C does have increased range over the Python 3. It also has off boresight because the pilot with his helmet can target the missile off the missile's boresight.

This is the same difference between the Python 3 and the Python 4.

The Python 5 is a generation beyond the PL-9C.

What I said about the J-12 was this:



Lastly China has a long range J-12 Stealth aircraft which may be equivalent to the F-22 Raptor.


What is incorrect about that ?
The F22 is barely off the chocks itself. The Stealth J-12 is undoubtedly in development. There does that make you a happy little boy ?

You're so pedantically childish about every last nuiance.

[edit on 18-3-2008 by sy.gunson]



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 08:44 PM
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China is very secretive about its indigenous capabilities, and there are many reasons for this, some easy to understand other quite complex.

The PL-9C off-boresight capability has been reported in many brochures and refuting that capability basically boils down to the accusation that the Chinese are bloating their technical boundaries.
I'm not saying that is entirely impossible, but hey, their brochures and publications is all we've got to go by for now.

I think the PAF JF-17/FC-1 is slated th receive the Pl-9(c?) as well as the AIM-9L.

That (PAF reports) would be a good place to look for comparitive stats.



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 08:48 PM
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Originally posted by sy.gunson
What is incorrect about that ?
The F22 is barely off the chocks itself. The Stealth J-12 is undoubtedly in development...
[edit on 18-3-2008 by sy.gunson]


So here's the million dollar question that is not so easy to answer:
"
Do you think the J-XX will see first flight >> IOC >> FOC BEFORE the PAK-FA?
"
What do you see as the time-delta between these two projects? Leave capabilities aside.

Your answer will give a better idea of your perceptions around the J-XX program.



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 08:50 PM
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Good comeback by calling me childish. If you want to post rubbish, that's fine. But I'll correct it, and that in no way makes me childish.

I know the PL-8 is the Python 3. What you don't seem to know is that the PL-9, the history of which I even provided you with, isn't remotely comparative to the Python 4, which was YOUR original assertion, and the reason I corrected you in the first place. Even now you can't get it right. I said the PL-9C doesn't have the range of the Python 4, not the Python 3.

Let's make it simple. Please post anything that would enable the uninformed reader to come to the conclusion that, as you said, "the PL-9 ... is basically the Isreali Python 4." If you can do that, then you are right. If you can't, then you are wrong. Simple enough?

As for the off-boresight issue, I think you misunderstood my point (which having re-read my post, I can see why, I wasn't as clear as I could have been). My point was the off-boresight capability, IRCCM, manoeuvrability and range of the Python 4 is vastly superior to that of the PL-9C, as thus a comparison between the two missiles is wrong. I didn't mean that it didn't have an off-boresight capability

As for your last point, what is wrong with it? Good grief, you said China has a long range stealth aircraft, when they don't. If you call that pedantic, you have serious perception issues!



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 08:57 PM
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Originally posted by Willard856
The PL-9C doesn't have the manoeuvrability,


How is that proven?. If you look at the worlds missiles all of them have different designs which reflects their ideas on their concepts. There is more than one road which leads to a destination


the off-boresight capability


Both claim 60 degrees off-boresight


the IRCCM


Well thats debatable.


or the range of the Python 4.


Python 4 - 15km
PL-9C - 22km



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 08:57 PM
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Posted by sy.gunson
There does that make you a happy little boy ?


Wow. Seriously dude, if you don't know my background, then so be it. Regardless of my age and experience, your attitude sucks. You present yourself as an expert, and like most armchair experts, your level of knowledge is woefully inadequate. There's a reason I know about the Churinga exercise issues you mentioned, just as there is a reason I have a pretty good handle on the relative differences and capabilities of the PL-8, PL-9, Python 4, and just about any other air to air missile you care to mention. You want to attack me on those issues, go right a.. But calling me a little boy just makes you seem small and petty. Way to kill your own credibility.



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 08:58 PM
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Mounted on a L-15




posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 09:13 PM
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Originally posted by Daedalus3
Do you think the J-XX will see first flight >> IOC >> FOC BEFORE the PAK-FA?


The J-XX project started before the PAK-FA and is using off the shelf components as in the technology is already there to be used. RAM, engine, composites and advanced computer designs.

There are actually to competing design teams working on a prototype

J-13 - Shenyang
J-14 - Chengdu

The J-13 project is like a F-22 which is more conventional while the J-14 is more like a modified twin engine J-10 which incorporates stealth features like shaping etc



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 10:16 PM
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Originally posted by chinawhite
The J-XX project started before the PAK-FA and is using off the shelf components as in the technology is already there to be used. RAM, engine, composites and advanced computer designs.


The thing is that PAK-FA's design is finalized. The aircraft construction has either begun or is soon to begin assuming the current schedule is to be followed. If the J-XX project still has two competing prototypes, it is unlikely that the design is yet finalized and as such could take longer to get a frame in the air.

But, to relate this to previous discussion, China IS developing a stealth platform. China is NOT currently operating stealth platforms similar to the F-22 or PAK-FA.

Any who say that the PLAAF currently have this craft in the air will probably need some convincing evidence.



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 10:31 PM
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Originally posted by Darkpr0
If the J-XX project still has two competing prototypes, it is unlikely that the design is yet finalized and as such could take longer to get a frame in the air.


What is it to say that the J-XX design is not finalized and information on this project is kept top-secret?. Actually Shenyang has won the contract for its F-22 conventional design but Chengdu is working on its own twin engine J-10 which is apparently not government sanctioned and thats why I cant yet confirm who has actually won because it could easily change hands depending on who is able to produce it first

The information I am receiving might be 5 years old by the time I am getting it. The J-10 flew in 1998 but in 2004 we were still looking at photoshoped Lavi pictures even through it already entered active service.



posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 11:35 PM
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Originally posted by chinawhite
What is it to say that the J-XX design is not finalized and information on this project is kept top-secret?. Actually Shenyang has won the contract for its F-22 conventional design but Chengdu is working on its own twin engine J-10 which is apparently not government sanctioned and thats why I cant yet confirm who has actually won because it could easily change hands depending on who is able to produce it first


Hmm... It appears that we're unclear as to exactly what the program entails. You seem to know far better than I (since the J-XX is not in my admittedly limited scope of expertise), so I'd like to ask exactly what the plan for the J-XX program was, to the best of your knowledge. As well, with whatever current information you've got, I'd like to know where the program has progressed to.

My current thoughts are that even if Shenyang has won a contract, if Chengdu is developing an airframe that may or may not replace the Shenyang design as the produced outcome it suggests that the title is still up for grabs. If this is true, the design is probably not yet up to production spec (unless China intends to diverge from the route the Americans and Russians took and simply produce the selected winner rather than tinker around with the design a little bit more to get that extra fun out of it) and as such will add more time before the aircraft gets production airframes into the sky. Since the Russians have finalized PAK-FA's design, they have either started the manufacturing, or will do so fairly pronto.

If China does opt for the straight shot into mass-production it is possible that they could have the actual aircraft in service before PAK-FA, but if Chengdu thinks it is prudent to continue development sans governmental support (a risky venture, indeed) then I would suspect that they would do so with sufficient evidence to suggest that Shenyang does not yet have the contract locked up, and therefore that their design, when tested, could win some buyers anyway.

Another possibility is that they could be able to sell their design elsewhere, even if the PLAAF won't buy it. The doubt I have is that I suspect it is unlikely for China to release what is basically a brand-spankin' new aircraft design that indicates at least half of what they've been up to for the J-XX.



The information I am receiving might be 5 years old by the time I am getting it. The J-10 flew in 1998 but in 2004 we were still looking at photoshoped Lavi pictures even through it already entered active service.


True, but we've got to work with what we have. There's no sense to assuming that we're behind since doing so is really just a "gut feeling", better translated as a guess.




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