Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Chinese Fighter Turbine Engines: Production Outlook through 2026

A recent Alert5 article "China still struggling to develop new military turbofan engines" used production forecasts from the Hebei Cisri Dekai Technology Co. Ltd. to suggest that China was having trouble developing engines.  However, the assumptions Alert5 used as to which aircraft would use which engine were not entirely correct, as evidenced by recent pics of J-20 production aircraft fitted with WS-10C instead of projected WS-15. Particularly in terms of fighter aircraft, we can see now that indigenous engine production is more than capable of supporting a tremendous number of new airframes in the coming years.

CDF Forum Member "Pierrotlefeu" explains how:

WS-10C is just a placeholder for J-20 like Al-31F was for J-10. It allows the first batch of J-20s to be operationalized and put into service, which is important to get feedback for improvement and familiarize the fighter corps. The WS-15 may not appear in service until after 2026, which is actually FASTER than how WS-10 was for the J-10 (entered service 2008, indigenous engine 2019, 11 years vs potentially 8).

What is more interesting is that production of WS-10 is slated to reach 2740 engines by 2026. Assuming worst case scenario of 1/3 for spares and re-engine of older planes, that leaves around 1800 engines for new planes. Assume China will maintain the current production rate of 24 annually for J-20, which I think will be the plan until WS-15 becomes available, just like how J-10 production was kept low until J-10C became available, then that would be 7 x 24 x 2 = 336 engines for J-20, leaving 1464 engines. Assume production of Flankers and J-10s stay at the same 1:1 rate we've been seeing, then we'll have an additional 1464 : 3 ~ 488 each of Flankers and J-10s. I'm counting J-11s, 15s, 16s, and 17s as just "Flankers" here, and 2 carriers will need 2 x 48 x 2 (one regiment deployed, one spare) = 192 J-15s and 17s. 

That's potentially 168 new J-20s, 488 J-10s, and 488 homemade Flankers (including naval ones). That's 1144 new fighters from the availability of a single engine type, not bad at all. 

Of course, many will replace J-7s and J-8s still in inventory as well as older Flankers and J-10s, so net growth won't be too extreme for now.

Like WS-10C on J-20 instead of WS-15, it would be reasonable to expect the WS-10 series turbines to also power any early production FC-31 navalized Gen 5 fighters instead of WS-19. This would ameliorate the low-rate initial production of WS-19 and counterindicate "struggling" in that program as well.

Monday, December 30, 2019

China Finally Closes the Engine Gap: 100% Domestic Jet Fighter Engines

A series of recent images has confirmed that China is no longer reliant on Russian turbines to power it's burgeoning fleet of combat aircraft.  New-build production J-10C and J-20 aircraft are leaving the Chengdu factory with indigenous WS-10 "Taihang"engines installed.  Previously these aircraft were delivered with variants of the Russian-produced Salyut AL-31 engine.

In the case of the J-20 pictured below, the engine is the WS-10C variant, a non-thrust vectoring model.  This came as a surprise to some observers who expected a TVC-capable WS-10 to be installed on the aircraft, but it may be that full TVC integration with the aircraft flight controls just isn't ready yet.  Alternately, the long postulated "stealth interceptor" aka "AWACS killer" role of the J-20 may not need TVC.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

PLAN 003 Class CV: Module Assembly Underway for China's Third Aircraft Carrier

At Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai modules are being assembled for what is expected to be a third Chinese aircraft carrier.  The 003-class CV is expected to displace 78,000 tons and have conventional propulsion and electromagnetic catapults. While China's two existing aircraft carriers use modified Soviet-era designs (and hull in the case of CV16 LIAONING), the 003-class will be an entirely indigenous design.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Second Chinese Aircraft Carrier Commissioned Today! 002-Class CV17 SHANDONG

At it's projected base in Sanya on Hainan Island, China's second aircraft carrier was commissioned today. The 002-Class CV17 SHANDONG is the first entirely Chinese-built carrier in PLAN service.  The similar CV16 LIAONING was completed using the hull of ex-Soviet VARYAG, and SHANDONG represents an incremental design improvement.

SHANDONG was laid down at the Dalian shipyard, the same one where LIAONING was assembled.  SHANDONG took approximately six tears from it's project announcement to commissioning.

Project Announcement 30 Aug 2013
Construction Start) 18 Jan 2014
Earliest photo of assembly 10 Mar 2015
Vessel launch 26 April 2017
Commissioning 16 Dec 2019

It's expected the next Chinese carrier will be built in Shanghai at the Jiangnan Shipyard, a new design with incremental improvements over the 002-Class.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Norinco VN1 8x8 IFV for the Thai Army

Yes the Thai military decided that they need to add a QLZ-04 40mm automatic grenade launcher.....in addition to the existing 30mm autocannon, 7.62mm coaxial and even an improved Sagger ATGM launcher.

The turret is remote operated also featuring thermal sights and gun stabilization.