Center for Strategic Assessment and forecasts

Autonomous non-profit organization

Home / Politics and Geopolitics / China and its role in the new world order / Articles
The PLA air force without afterburner catching up with VCS
Material posted: Publication date: 12-09-2016
Chinese aircraft can compete with our and American.

Technical specifications of the French fighter Dassault Mirage 2000−5Ei, standing in the air force of Taiwan, was the main question that interested the agent of the Second Directorate of the General staff of National liberation army of China (PLA) - Jeong of Laciana. This was recently announced by the French newsletter Intelligence online, noting that at the end of August Supreme court of Taiwan upheld a four-year term of imprisonment spy.

It's hard to say what technical details was interested in Chinese intelligence, but on August 28 , Chinese President XI Jinpingcalled for greater Chinese aviation industry, accelerating R & d in the area of aircraft engines. As noted portal, a strategic move that should improve the Chinese aviation industry, was the creation of a new structure — the Chinese aeroengine Corporation. As emphasized by resource, currently only five countries-members of the UN Security Council is able to produce engines that are installed on the world's best fighter jets — the us F-22 or Russian su-35. China would like to reduce the gap in technology.

What are today the PLA air force? According to estimates of the famous publication Flightglobal, in 2016 the total number of military aircraft China ranks third in the world after the USA and Russia, and the largest combat aircraft — even the second. But until relatively recently, the basis of the Chinese fleet was fighter J-6, created on the basis of Soviet MiG-19, and J-7 — based on the MiG-21...
Chinese armed forces are among the top three in the world. Accordingly, they can compete with other members of the trio, that is, the US and Russia, — saidthe Deputy Director of the Institute of political and military analysis Alexander Hramchihinn. — the PLA air force, like videoconferencing, behind the US support aircraft (tanker aircraft, "transport workers", the aircraft EW), but it's constantly to make up for the gap.

The number of fighters of the 4th generation in the coming years, China will surely come out on top in the world, beating the US and Russia, while his car will be physically newer.
Case with shock aviation of China is slightly worse than the fighter, but here the situation is rapidly changing for the better.

So that on combat aircraft the Chinese are quite competitive, with the exception of strategic aviation. As you know, Chinese "strategy" N-6 is the copy of the Soviet Tu-16. However, in the 90 years, China received from the Ukraine, the Soviet strategic cruise missile air-launched Kh-55, and Pakistan — American "Tomahawk". Because of their synthesis of there was a whole family of cruise missiles, including krwb CJ-10. In this respect, numerous ballistic and cruise missiles of various ranges, and attack drones to complement the capabilities of aviation.

In my opinion, China is the same way, which at the time was the Soviet Union. It copies Western technology and even more Russian, while their "citiserve", that is gradually improving, making more domestic. Accordingly, Beijing is very quickly reduce its backlog, which currently is purely symbolic and totally unprincipled. The Soviet Union, too, is very much technologically behind the West in 40-50 years, but then, this gap was overcome in the same way.

"SP": — In Russia, a widespread believe that the Chinese aircraft can not take a leading position due to low quality...

— In fact Chinese military aviation industry has long has become a world leader in its production capabilities. In China per year is built more combat aircraft than all 28 countries of NATO (including the US) combined. I think the talk about the lack of quality of Chinese aircraft is a myth. With 100-percentage confidence it is difficult to say, but their accident rate is no higher than ours or the Americans, and much lower than that of Indians, who occupy fourth place in the ratings, at least by number of aircraft. As for the engines, nothing prevents China to catch up with the US and Russia. For example, largely for this and bought a batch of su-35.
"SP": — China has announced about the trials of fifth-generation aircraft J-20 and J-31.
— Yes, but it is known that the Chinese engines are even 4th generation do not quite fit. In General, the prospects for two of these aircraft are not entirely clear, as it is not clear why this is the fifth generation — this question often asked and American experts. Perhaps the Chinese also thought about that and while boost work on the J-20 and J-31. Although at what stage they really are — you know only the Chinese themselves.
Research fellow, Centre for analysis of strategies and technologies, chief editor of the magazine "arms Export" Andrey Frolov also noted that in recent years, the PLA air force has taken a big leap forward, but the Chinese engine continues to be a sore spot of the Chinese aviation industry.
— So, the Chinese WS10A Taihang engine ("taihan"), which was designed and produced in Shenyang. It is installed on derivatives of the su-27 twin-engine heavy fighter J-11B/BS and J-16. But this engine, on the one hand, not completely "cured" the problems with the resource and reliability, and with another — it is not powerful enough for the fifth generation fighter. Therefore, China now faces a new challenge — to produce a more powerful engine at the level of our "product 117" (AL-41F1), which is installed on su-35. Apparently, due to the fact that they can't do this, just one of the conditions of purchase 24 multi-role fighters and was asked to supply them with planes with such a powerful power plant.
In addition, China is working on its analogue engine D-30КП2 that they want to put on the bomber H-6K and heavy military transport aircraft Y-20. But this is not the last word in engine. I think that the recent agreement between China and Ukraine on cooperation on the An-225 "Mriya" says that the Chinese will try to get the Ukrainians technology themselves or use them to make a heavy-duty engine for military-transport aircraft.
With regard to combat aircraft, the Chinese have a good fighter J-10 with Russian engines AL-31ФН and J-10B, which is airborne AESA radar (active phased array). This is despite the fact that the production aircraft with the AESA yet available to us.
Think their aircraft, which grew out of the su-27 is now similar to our earlier su-30. So in a combat situation they probably can be comparable with upgraded American F-15C and gemoderniseerde F-18. J-10A in its combat capabilities is approximately the analogue of an early F-16. Quantity multiplied by quality, allows China in some situations, act on an equal footing with Russian and American aircraft. But with the US air force still compete harder, because on their side the quantity and quality, but for VKS Chinese aviation is a serious threat.
In General, if we compare the capabilities of the Soviet and Chinese air force in the 80-ies, then the gap between them was almost two generations. And now, when viewed integrally, one or even half a generation.
"SP": — the Weak point of Chinese military aircraft — tankers.
— Yes, they have tankers, converted from bombers H-6, but these aircraft are few and they are mainly used for refueling long-range aircraft. Then China bought from Ukraine three aircraft-tanker Il-78, but by the standards of the Chinese air force, this volume, of course, solves little. Plus the Chinese have copied our universal hanging devices and aviation refueling ORM, which for the su-24 was designed in the 80-ies. Finally, they will make the aircraft Y-20 variant of the tanker — they are all for it, just don't have enough free boards.
"SP": — Flightglobal in 2016 generally in number of combat aircraft has put China in second place...
— Depending on how you count. Objectively, while videoconferencing in second place, but! Here we have to consider the issues related to serviceability of aircraft, how many of them can actually rise into the air. Then, if not to take into account strategic aircraft and to include attack drones, then we really are losing to China. They have quite a lot of the old fighters J-7, which increased on the basis of the MiG-21 heavy fighter-interceptor J-8II...

The aircraft weapons, the Chinese have a fairly large range of weapons. They have mastered Western technology 80-ies, with our help, has made its analogous missiles "air-air" R-77 — PL-12, have in the Arsenal of guided bombs, cruise missiles. So, recently was presented krvb CJ-10A with a range of up to two thousand kilometers. Chinese level aircraft is on the us-Soviet level of the late 80s early 90s, and guided bombs above.

Tags: Russia , USA , China , aviation

RELATED MATERIALS: Politics and Geopolitics