J-31 or Project 310?

As we’ve seen the J-20 project proceed to the pre-production prototype stage, Project 310 (Shenyang AC’s 5th gen design) is continuing its flight testing. Although, I and many other have called it J-31, it really hasn’t become an official PLAAF project yet, so it has no J designation Many have called it the J-21 project, because they expect it to receive that designation once it becomes official.
There have been a lot of discussions online about where this project is at and how is it funded, so I will give me take here. At this stage, project 310 only has one flying prototype in No. 31001. Some would compare it to No. 2001 of J-20 project, but I consider more as a proof of concept aircraft similar to X-35. 

For example, I think the pre-production prototypes should not longer see the gap between the engine nozzle and nacelle. From what I observed online, it seems to at least have received some funding from PLAAF to arrive at this stage, although SAC does has enough resource/funding to get here by itself. I think we are unlikely to see a second flying prototype until it becomes an official PLAAF project, since No. 31001 and a possible static prototype can give all the data PLAAF would need to make its decision.

Based on all I have read, it seems to be foregone conclusion that will happen. Once it does get designation and full funding from PLAAF, SAC is likely to make numerous changes on the next flying prototype and also start conducting radar and weapon testing.
Just looking from front, Project 310 has the contours that one would expect out a stealth aircraft. One does not need to look far before seeing comparison to F-35 and reading articles about “stolen technology” from F-35. Whether this jet will turn out to really be a stealth aircraft depends on all the little details that the designers have to look through to minimize returns from all around. Until we get to a later prototype, it’s really hard to say how well Project 310 will do in that area.
I am generally not too concerned about the electronics on the new Chinese aircraft, because I think they have really made huge progress here. I think they can achieve comparable target identification and situation awareness as F-22/35, since it will come into service at a later point when newer technology will become available. I think the biggest concern for this aircraft is its engine. 
This is a problem with all new PLAAF aircraft. Clearly, RD-93 will not be powering Project 310 in production. The 9.5t class “Medium Thrust” engine models have been around for several Zhuhai airshows. I would imagine that engine will be used on Project 310 and other projects like UAVs. Even though it has great important, it will not be as high priority as the WS-15 project. 
Since it began at a later point and has lower priority than WS-15, it definitely won’t be ready before WS-15. If we estimate that serial production of WS-15 will be under way by 2020, this medium thrust engine won’t be ready for serial production until 2025. PLAAF would have to either wait until then or find an interim selection. A large part of its test flight program may need to be done with a different engine.
The other question is what is the expected market for Project 310 outside of China. Unlike J-20, models resembling Project 310 have appeared in air shows since 2011 indicating that it should be available for export sooner rather than later. The problem is who can they sell it to. Ten years from now, most of the Western countries will probably go for F-35. 
The remaining ones will either go for the eurocanards or for super hornets if they are still in production. Due to politics, they are unlikely to go for a Chinese or Russian aircraft. We know that India and Russia are committed to the PAK-FA project, so what does that leave for Project 310? Most of China’s traditional customers in Asia, Africa and Latin America simply don’t have the money or the need for a low-end 5th gen aircraft. 
Project 310 will most likely be exported to Pakistan. After that, it will have to battle against F-35, PAK-FA and Gripen-E in the Middle East, South East Asia, Brazil and South Africa. Its main advantages are its cost and available production slot, but China will have to move fast.

Lavi or not Lavi. That is the question

IAI Lavi: a competitive aircraft in the export market against American aircraft such as the F-16C/D and the F/A-18C/D
When we look at the prototype of the Israeli fighter IAI LAVI you think: I must be crazy. This is a Chinese J-10! To resolve this doubt see “The chronological history of the J-10 programme”… Please, don’t confuse the old Lavi – a single-engined 4th generation fighter developed in Israel in the 1980s with the new Lavi: the local name of new M346 trainer.

J-10: Jewish blood?
The Early 1980s: The then Chinese leader and Chairman of the  Central Military Commission (CMC) Deng Xiaoping announced that China would  spend RMB 500 million to develop a new generation fighter with better  performance.
1982: Representatives of the PLA General Staff Department,  PLA Air Force, PLA Naval Aviation Corps, and the Chinese Ministry of  Aeronautics met in Beijing to discuss the concept of the new-generation fighter  and initial requirement. The fighter was required to be superior to the  indigenous J-8II and Soviet MiG-23, and approach the U.S. F-16 in general  performance, and can form the backbone of the Chinese fighter fleet in the  1990s. A second meeting was held six months later.
January 1984: The PLAAF adjusted some requirements for the  new fighter aircraft. The Ministry of Aeronautics received three  design proposals submitted by aircraft design institutes in Shenyang, Xi’an and  Chengdu. These proposals included a conventional configuration, a tailless  delta-canard configuration, and a variable-sweep wing configuration.
May 1984: After comparing the three design proposals, the  Ministry of Aeronautics decided to chose the tailless delta with canard design  submitted by Chengdu-based 611 Institute (now Chengdu Aircraft Design  Institute). The development task of the new-generation fighter was officially  assigned to the 611 Institute and Chengdu Aircraft Manufacturing Factory (now  Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation, CAC). Four key technological areas were identified, including the tailless delta-canard configuration,  computerised flight control, integrated avionics design, and computer-aided  design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM).
1986: The new-generation fighter designated  J-10  became  one of the state’s key  projects.  Wang Ang was appointed as the programme’s chief  executive director, andh Song Wen-Cong  the  chief  designer.
1987: China obtained some technologies of the  cancelled Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) Lavi (“Lion”) fighter. The Lavi  development began in October 1982 under the help of the United States, and the  aircraft made the first flight in December 1986. However, the U.S. was not  prepared to finance an aircraft that would compete in export market with the  F-16C/D and F/A/-18C/D, and a dispute arose to the final cost. The Israeli  Government was unable to finance the project along and the development  programme was finally cancelled in 1987. China was believed to have received  the software originally developed for Lavi’s “fly-by-wire” control system  shortly after its cancellation, despite  denial of such  cooperation by both sides.
1990: The J-10 project encountered great setback  because China was unable to obtain crucial technological assistance from  Western countries resulted by the arms embargo imposed by the United States and  European Union after 1989. In particular China was unable to produce a suitable  engine for the fighter aircraft.
1993: Chengdu had constructed the first full-scale metal  mockup of the J-10. Wind tunnel testing revealed potential problems with  low-speed performance and less-than-expected maximum AOA at subsonic speeds. At  the same time the main trend in fighter aircraft development was a transition  from single-purpose fighters such as high-speed interceptor or low-altitude  dogfighters to multirole aircraft combining good subsonic and supersonic  air-to-air performance with extensive air-to-ground capabilities. Added  requirements for air-to-ground operations called for an in-depth redesign of  the J-10 to accommodate terrain-following radar, more and sturdier hardpoints,  an entirely new targeting, flight control and navigation systems.
The mid-1990s: Russia became involved in the J-10  development programme by contributing its Lyulka-Saturn AL-31F turbofan engine.
1996: The first prototype ’1001′ reportedly made its maiden flight but the design was not entirely successful.
March 1998: After a 15-month delay, a modified second prototype ’1003′  made its maiden flight. The same year the aircraft received its  official service designation “J-10″. By then, the development  programme was already two years behind the schedule.
1999: Chengdu had produced seven  prototypes for flight testing. The first five were powered by an indigenous WS-10 engine  while the last two were powered by a Russian-made AL-31F engine and also featured some modifications in avionics.
December 1999: Two J-10 prototypes were transferred from  Chengdu to China Flight Test Establishment (CFTE) based at Yanliang, Shaanxi  Province for further flight tests and service evaluations.
2000: Development of the two-seat fighter-trainer variant  J-10S officially began at Chengdu, with Yang Wei appointed as the chief  designer.
May 2000: Intensive flight tests of the J-10 were carried  out by CFTE at Yanliang. By late 2000 the flying models accumulated over 140 flight hours.
Summer 2000: The first successful live test of the ejector  seat for the J-10 fighter was carried out on a test plane.
2001: China ordered 54 specially configured AL-31FN engines  from Russia to power the initial batch of the J-10 fighter. These engines were  received in 2002~04.
Summer 2002: After two years of flight tests in Yanliang,  the J-10 prototypes were relocated to the PLAAF’s Dingxin Airbase in  Gansu Province for weapon and fire-control tests.
28 June 2002: The first flight of the pre-production model  J-10. Small batch production of the aircraft began shortly after.
10 March 2003: J-10 fighter officially entered PLAAF service. Six J-10s were  delivered  to the PLAAF Flight Test & Training Centre at Cangzhou AFB, Hebei Province  for operational trial and evaluation. During the handover ceremony, two J-10 fighters made demonstration flights to senior PLA officials.
Spring 2003: The test of the J-10’s fire-control radar was  carried out onboard a modified Y-8 radar testbed in Shandong Province.
Summer 2003: The J-10 conducted its first successful aerial  refuelling simulation.
26 December 2003: The two-seat J-10S fighter-trainer variant  made its first flight.
December 2003: The first successful air-to-air missile test  launch from the J-10.
Early 2004: The J-10 fighter received its design  certificate, marking the ending of the 18-year development programme.
August 2004: The first J-10 regiment was formed in the PLAAF 44th Air Division based at Mengzi AFB, Yunnan Province.
2005: The J-10S fighter-trainer variant completed its flight  test and received its design certificate.
July 2005: China reportedly ordered an additional 100  modified AL-31FN engines worth US$300 million from Russia for more J-10  fighters. Production continues at a rate of 2~3 units per month at the moment.
November 2006: Chinese state media  announced that the new-generation  J-10 fighter had achieved initial operational capability (IOC). The aircraft was officially declassified. CAC /  AVIC-I were planning to demonstrate the aircraft during the 2006 Zhuhai Air Show, but this was cancelled the last minute, possibly due to political concerns.
October  2008: Chinese state media confirmed that the J-10 would attend the 2008 Zhuhai Air Show in both static and flight demonstration.
Currently: J-10A is in service with PLAAF (04 batch, S/N 50x5x, 30x5x, 20x6x, 78x1x). The August 1 Aerobatic Demonstration Team also flies J-10AY (05 batch) to replace the old J-7GB. Recent images confirmed that PLAN is receiving its first batch of J-10As (06 batch, dubbed J-10AH, S/N 83x4x) which have been deployed at the eastern China coast facing Japan. They could be modified to carry YJ-83K AShMs in the future. Currently more J-10As (07 batch) are being produced for both the existing as well as new J-10 units (S/N 20x3x).**
Other versions: The production of J-10B finally started in 2013 after some delay, due to the availability of a suitable engine. It was speculated that the first batch of production J-10Bs will be powered by Russian AL-31FN engine and could enter the service with PLAAF 44th Division as early as late 2013. It was rumored in June 2013 that a further upgraded semi-stealth multi-role variant (J-10C) with enhanced 4th generation electronics including a more powerful AESA radar, more composite material and a more powerful engine was under development. The latest images (December 2013) indicated the 01 batch have been produced and are preparing for the delivery. Meanwhile the J-10C 2-01 prototype took to the sky for the first time on December 31, 2013. The aircraft appears to have high similarity with J-10B except an extra yellow antenna on its back. In late 2010 the first batch of J-10Ss (advanced trainer) are entering the service with PLAN (dubbed J-10SH? S/N 83x4x) along with J-10As. **

Top Gun takeover: Stolen F-35 secrets showing up in China’s stealth fighter

A cyber espionage operation by China seven years ago produced sensitive technology and aircraft secrets that were incorporated into the latest version of China’s new J-20 stealth fighter jet, according to U.S. officials and private defense analysts.
The Chinese cyber spying against the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II took place in 2007 under what U.S. intelligence agencies codenamed Operation Byzantine Hades, a large-scale, multi-year cyber program that targeted governments and industry.
Defense officials said the stolen data was obtained by a Chinese military unit called a Technical Reconnaissance Bureau in the Chengdu province. The data was then passed to the state-run Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC).

An AVIC subsidiary, the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, used the stolen data in building the J-20, said defense and intelligence officials familiar with reports of the illicit tech transfer.

Pentagon technology security officials in 2011 opposed a joint venture between General Electric and AVIC over concerns that U.S. fighter jet technology would be diverted to AVIC’s military aircraft programs. The Obama administration ignored the concerns and instead has since promoted the systematic loosening of technology controls on transfers to China.
The Office of Director of National Intelligence is known to have details of AVIC’s past involvement in illicit arms transfers and its role in obtaining sensitive F-35 technology through cyber espionage, the officials said.
The F-35 data theft was confirmed after recent photographs were published on Chinese websites showing a newer version of the J-20. The new version of the radar-evading aircraft had incorporated several design upgrades since the first demonstrator aircraft was revealed in 2011.
According to the officials, the J-20 has progressed from prototype to demonstrator. One of its most significant weapons enhancements is a new electro-optical targeting system under its nose.
Additionally, protruding engine nozzles seen in the earlier version have been hidden, an attempt to further reduce the jet’s radar signature. The newest J-20 also appeared with a different radar-absorbing coating.
Photos of the newer J-20 were first posted online on Chinese military forums on Jan. 17. The Pentagon’s Defense Science Board revealed earlier this year that system design information on the F-35 was obtained from cyber attacks.
The new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile systems and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile defenses, along with many other systems, were compromised through cyber espionage, the board said in a report.
Most details of the Chinese cyber espionage campaign to obtain F-35 technology remain secret. However, the Chinese probably obtained the F-35 secrets from Lockheed Martin, its subcontractors, or U.S. allies involved in the development program. Allies that took part in the F-35 program include the United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Turkey.
A Chinese Academy of Military Sciences official, Du Wenlong, told Chinese state television on Feb. 20 that the new J-20’s shortened exhaust nozzles, along with tail and vertical fin modifications, are designed to reduce radar detection.
Du also said that a “revolutionary” breakthrough allowed the twin engines to increase both power and reliability. China’s inability to manufacture quality jet engines has been a weakness of its aircraft manufacturing programs.
Du also said that the electro-optical targeting system provides better surveillance and strike capabilities against both land and sea targets.
The J-20 also has a larger weapons bay than the U.S. F-22, which allows it to carry more powerful missiles that can be used against “aircraft carrier and foreign AEGIS ships,” Du said.
U.S. officials said the new J-20 had undergone ground tests, but it had not been flight tested as of early March.
Richard Fisher, a specialist on Chinese weapon systems, said the new J-20 was flight tested on March 1 and demonstrated the enhanced fifth generation jet fighter features.
Fisher, with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said it is “very curious” that the new J-20 featured its new electronic targeting system under its nose. That location increased its field of view and is similar to the targeting system on the F-35.
“This targeting system and a set of distributed high-power infrared sensors give the F-35 a previously unrivaled ‘situational awareness,’ but the now it is clear that the J-20 will have a similar targeting system and its own set of distributed sensors,” Fisher said.
“If as part of their espionage, China had also gained engineering insights into the F-35′s very advanced sensor systems, that could prove disastrous to its combat potential barring a rapid redesign and improvements before entering service,” Fisher added.
Advanced sensors on the F-35 were intended as insurance for the jet not having the best capabilities for maneuvering in flight, he said.
“But if the Chinese, via cyberespionage, have gained insights into its sensor system, then it is to be expected that China is also working on ways to jam or otherwise degrade its advantage,” Fisher said.
The J-20 targeting system indicates that the Chinese plan to use the jet for ground attack and air superiority missions like the F-35, he said, adding that it now appears the J-20 will be comparable to the more capable F-22.
“We can be assured that J-20 production will significantly exceed that of the 187 F-22 fighters cut off by the Obama Administration in 2010,” he said.
China’s Communist Party-affiliated Global Times reported Jan. 20 that China obtained key technologies from the F-35 and incorporated them into the J-20
The newspaper did not admit stealing the technology, but stated that China “completely obtained the six key technologies” from the F-35.
Those features include the electro-optical targeting system and a diverterless supersonic inlet, a thrust-vectoring jet nozzle, and a fire-control array radar system.
The Global Times disclosures about F-35 technology acquisition were first reported in the Washington Times.

PLA Air Force armament dept needs financial attention: chief

China must devote more resources to developing strategic bombers as a way to safeguard the nation’s maritime interests, Yuan Qiang, chief of the PLA Air Force’s armament department and member of the National People’s Congress, said in an interview with national broadcaster China National Radio.
A modern PLA Navy with aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and submarines will not be enough to make China a maritime superpower, said the chief. To soldify China’s ability to project its forces overseas, the PLA needs more strategic bombers, large cargo planes, early warning and air-refueling aircraft. It is now the time for China to show its determination to create a strong strategic air force, he said.

Several reforms must be made within the PLA Air Force, Yuan said in a presentation during the second session of the 12th National People’s Congress. Equipment procurement, military representative, test flights, maintenance and price mechanism sytems must be improved to make sure the air force has the best weapon systems it can get for a reasonable price tag. All reform policy should be focused on how to help the air force win the war, according to Yuan.

Criticizing the price mechanism of the air force armament department, established a decade ago, for being out of date, Yuan suggested that private enterprise should be given the opportunity to cooperate and compete with the state-run defense industry. The old mechanism provides too much protection to state-run businesses, handicapping the air force and its ability to get the equipment which could really help it face challenges in the future, he said.

China’s Y-20 Prototype Aircraft Can Take Off with Maximum Weight

Research and development on China’s Y-20 large transport aircraft, which ranks as a large aircraft by international standards, is going smoothly, and the level of technology is maturing in various aspects.
The Y-20 prototype aircraft can now achieve maximum take-off weight and maximum altitude, Tang Changhong, member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and chief designer of the Y-20 heavy-duty transport aircraft, said in an interview.
The Y-20 heavy-duty transport aircraft is a new-generation aircraft independently developed by China, with a maximum take-off weight of about 220 tons and a maximum payload of 66 tons.
“Development of the domestically designed engine which will be soon be used to equip the Y-20 has also been proceeding very smoothly. A lot of progress has been made,” said Tang.

Aircraft under initial research and development are referred to as prototypes. The first and the second Y-20 prototype aircraft made their maiden flights last year, on Jan. 26 and at the end of December respectively. During their test flights, they underwent a variety of flight checks. “The success of the test flights has verified the ‘excellent quality’ of Y-20,” said Tang.

The Y-20 pilots described their experiences during the test flights: the aircraft fly very smoothly and steadily, and they have excellent aerodynamic characteristics, take-off and landing characteristics, and carrying capacity.
Tang pointed out that the deployed numbers, technical level, and carrying capacity of large military transport aircraft are important indicators for measuring whether a country has a strategic air-force capacity. To a certain extent, the research and development of large transport aircraft can also be used to assess a country’s R & D capacity in heavy and large-scale equipment.
“The R & D demands of the Y-20 project are in line with the general development of comprehensive national power,” said Tang. Large aircraft are an indispensible item for both national security and economic construction. The capacity for independent research and development of large aircraft plays a significant role in achieving the modernization of national defense.
The Y-20 will be used mainly for the transport of equipment and materials, and for emergency rescue and earthquake relief, said Tang.

J-20 Program Update

Prototype No. 2011 of the J-20 project had its maiden flight last weekend. As previously discussed, No. 2011 has significant changes to the previous J-20 prototypes that we’ve seen in flight testing (No. 2001 and No. 2002). 
There were probably 2 more prototypes similar to 2001/2002 for the purpose of static and RCS testing. It seems like 2001/2002 are more like the demonstrator prototypes whereas 2011 is the first pre-production prototype. 

It’s likely that the production version of J-20 will not see any major differences unless major problems are found in testing. The pictures below show prototype 2001 vs prototype 2011 from different view point with Chinese labels on parts that changed in the first 2 pictures.

Generally speaking, CAC appears to have taken much greater care for the LO properties of No. 2011 compared to 2001/2002. Quite a bit of type elapsed from 2002 to 2011 and it looks like they really tried to address a lot of issues from RCS testing. The workmanship and fit/finishing of 2011 all appear to be better. Some of the more obvious changes include 
  • Clipped corners on canard/v-tails
  • Redesign slender intakes with bump larger or protruding more
  • F-22-style light-grey colour scheme
  • Larger weapon bay and smaller wing actuators
  • Straightened leading edge
  • Inner canopy frame like F-35
  • Redesigned front landing gear door
  • New EOTS-like sensor and holographic HUD display
  • Redesigned rear fuselage around the engines and nozzles moved further in with longer tail sting.

It seems like more care is put into all-aspect stealth as the clipped canards has decreased returns from some angles and the ventral fins now seem to completely block engine nozzles from the sides. Looking at the inner edge of the canard, they are modified to conform nicely around intake so as to not create gaps.
Here is a good side view of the front part of the prototype.
Comparing to other 5th generation projects, I think PLAAF had a higher LO design requirement for J-20 than PAK-FA, while still trailing F-22/35. Compared to PAK-FA, it looks like everything conform to the body a lot better leaving fewer gaps and deflecting surfaces all around. 
Compared to F-22, it still has some areas like engine nozzle (which is covered by thrust vectoring plates on F-22) that are just not as well shielded even after the treatments. This is all from my extremely untrained eyes, so feel free to give me additional insights.
Project 310, China’s other next-gen project, at this point still has not received official PLAAF designation. It looks to be in the flight demonstration stage and would probably need to become an offical PLAAF program before proceeding further to where J-20 is right now.

Test flight frequency of Y-20 heavy-duty transport aircraft sets new record

The Y-20 heavy-duty transport aircraft is now still at the test flight stage, and its test flight frequency and time already set new records in the test flight history of China, according to Tang Changhong, chief designer of the Y-20 heavy-duty transport aircraft, on March 3, 2014 in Beijing.
Although the commissioning time for Y-20 cannot be disclosed, Tang Changhong said it is hoped that it can be commissioned as early as possible. However, it is important to ensure that there is no risk of failure at all in the aircraft test, and the aircraft can only be put into use under the very precise conditions. The test to date is going on very smoothly. He disclosed that the training of the test flight pilots for large transport aircraft is now underway.

Tang Changhong introduced that according to the current test flight status, all the expected goals have been achieved, and the original design goals for some limit requirements including flight height and flight speed, especially the requirements that the aircraft should possess good anti-bumping performance and be more comfortable have also been achieved.

The Y-20 heavy-duty transport aircraft is the new-generation military transport aircraft independently developed by the Xi’an Aircraft Industry Group under the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). Its maximum take-off weight is estimated to be 220 tons, and its maximum payload is 66 tons, which is among the top ten world’s most powerful aircraft in transport capacity.
China declared to launch its large aircraft development project in March 2007. And the Y-20 took off for the first time from China’s Yanliang base at 14:00 on January 26, 2013 for a flight period of one hour. The successful first flight of the Y-20 marked that China has its own large aircraft.
According to the estimation from foreign media, China needs at least 300 Y-20 aircraft, and at the same time, China may also export the Y-20. In this regard, Tang Changhong said that Russia has made more than 800 IL-76 aircraft, and the number of large aircraft in the U.S. is also very large. But different countries have different national conditions, China’s civil and military aviation transport is just at its beginning stage; its perfect transport system is not yet built up, which is now far behind that of developed countries. “Therefore, I believe that through the hard-working, China will have a very big room for development in the future. We also hope to establish cooperation relations with other countries,” Tang said.
As for the guess that China will develop super large transport aircraft after developing the Y-20, Tang Changhong expressed that China currently has no such plan. He pointed out that from the design perspective, the emerge of large transport aircraft not only represents an aircraft model, but more importantly represents the accumulation of a batch of basic technologies, design capabilities and production capabilities. It is actually an upgrading of the industrial level, which will make more contributions to China.
When will the brother series of Y-20 be launched? Tang Changhong replied that: “The present main work is still to carry out the test flight on Y-20’s basic stability, the brother series is not yet considered. Some plans on China’s large transport aircraft are still under discussion, which cannot be disclosed.”
Tang Changhong expressed that Y-20 with a maximum payload of 66 tons and a maximum take-off weight of 220 tons is a very large heavy-duty transport aircraft. He took the example of the U.S. large aircraft’s application and said that the U.S. large transport aircraft have played very important roles in the national construction in the U.S. Therefore, China’s Y-20 not only aims at military application, but also more focuses on civil applications including construction material and equipment transportation, earthquake relief and emergency rescue.
“The performance of Y-20 is very high. It can adapt to relatively hard conditions and can land at small airports in mountain areas. In its design, the adverse weather conditions of frigid zone, high heat area and plateau as well as the runway situation are fully considered,” he said.
Tang Changhong, a Xi’an native, graduated from the major of aerodynamics at the Northwestern Polytechnical University in 1982. He successively participated in the development of the aircraft models including “Flying Leopard” fighter, Y7-200A, MPC-75 and AE-100, as well as the research on major pre-research subjects. He is now the chief designer of the First Aircraft Design Institute under the First Group Company of the AVIC and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE).

Taiwan Think Tank Issues Blue Paper on China’s Ambitions

Taiwan: Mirage 2000
In a marked departure from past efforts, the opposition party’s think tank, New Frontier Foundation, released a remarkable report on China’s military ambitions against Taiwan.
Foundation President Su Tseng-Chang, who also serves as chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), released the “Defense Policy Blue Paper” on March 4.
“China’s Military Threats Against Taiwan in 2025” is the fifth in a series of “blue papers” produced by the DPP think tank on defense issues, but it is the first to produce substantive research on the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) modernization efforts and Chinese military programs aimed at waging a successful war to take the island. Past reports have been amateurish and disappointing.

York Chen, convener of the Foundation’s Defense Policy Advisory Committee, compiled and edited the paper. Chen said this paper took a more balanced view of the PLA with input from former Taiwan military officers, US analysts, and reports issues by the Ministry of National Defense (MINDEF).

The report states that Taiwan must raise its defense budget “to the level of 3% of GDP” and build an effective “national defense with Taiwanese characteristics.” Taiwanese characteristics emphasizes relying more on domestic defense industry sources for military arms and equipment.
The paper outlines three priorities: cyber defense, indigenous submarine production and improving air defense capabilities.
Taiwan: F-16 A/B
On cyber defense, the paper wants to raise the status of MINDEF’s Information and Electronic Warfare Command in the organization chart. It also wants to attract more information warfare personnel, develop asymmetrical cyber operational concepts and equipment, and strengthen its cyber “front lines.”
On the indigenous submarine issue, the paper recommends an immediate two-stage build program that allows for “conserving the integrity of the Navy’s current submarine force” but also “activating a long-term development cycle of ship design and research and development, critical equipment acquisition, testing and operation, and upgrade.”
York said the best way to proceed was to reverse-engineer the two Dutch-built ?Zwaardvis-class submarines sold to Taiwan in the 1980s. The US offered to sell Taiwan eight diesel-powered attack submarines in 2001, but the US has been unable to develop the infrastructure needed to manufacturer diesel-submarines.
“Submarines are the major platforms to deny the PLA’s invasion fleet from crossing the Strait,” the paper said. “Indigenous production has become the only choice for Taiwan to acquire submarines.”
Taiwan has struggled with efforts to produce submarines over the past decade, including the Hidden Dragon Program and the Indigenous Defense Submarine Program, which the Taiwan Navy failed to support.
China’s air warfare capabilities continue to expand with the production of more advanced fourth-generation fighters, the roll-out of two types of fifth-generation stealthy fighters, the replacement of aging ballistic missiles with more precise missiles, and the fielding of more advanced land-attack cruise missiles.
Taiwan: IDF Ching Kuo
For this reason, the paper suggests Taiwan procure unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV), go forward on fighter aircraft upgrades, refine precision strike munitions, and develop next-generation fighters, including the procurement of “vertical and/or short take-off and landing” (V/STOL) fighters.
In the past, Taiwan has expressed interest in buying refurbished AV-8 Harrier V/STOL jump-jets and has received US government briefings on the F-35B short-takeoff vertical-landing (STOVL) fighter.
On UCAV technologies, Taiwan’s military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology has produced a variety of UAVs, including designs for a stealthy UCAV, but has long suffered budgeting problems and a lack of support from the Taiwan military, which has pushed for the procurement of US-made UAVs.
Despite the report’s recommendations, the overall conclusions of the report are dire.
The PLA attained the operational capability to respond to a Taiwan contingency in 2007, surpassed Taiwan’s forces in quantity and quality in 2010, and continues working to secure decisive capabilities for a large-scale operation against Taiwan by 2020.
PLAF vs ROCAF in 2009
“The expansive range of the PLA’s air defense missiles has already embraced Taiwan within a de facto air defense identification zone, and when the 5th generation fighters enter into service by 2020, the PRC [China] will achieve clear airpower superiority over Taiwan,” said the report.
Beyond Beijing’s benign claims of reunifying Taiwan with the motherland, the report gives a sobering picture of the real reason China needs the island.
“Taiwan is absolutely needed for China to establish credible long-range power projection capabilities, to actually surpass the geographical restrictions of the first island chain, and to become an equal power with the U.S. in the Pacific,” the report said.
Further, it is in China’s strategic interest to turn the island into a military outpost. “The island is a strategic jumping point for offensive” military operations in the Pacific.
The clock is ticking. Within the next several years the PLA will introduce the S-400 surface-to-air missile system with a 400-kilometer range giving China absolute air defense coverage of the island. The S-400 radar “claims to be able to effectively detect the enemy’s stealth fighters.”
Though it appears doomed, the paper advocates the continued upgrade program for its fleet of 146 F-16A/B fighter aircraft, “but even if it proceeds smoothly, the earliest possible completion date will not be until the mid-2020s.” Taiwan is preparing to retire its remaining F-5 fighters and the 56 operational Mirage 2000 fighters within the next five-to-10 years. This will leave the Air Force with only 146 F-16s and 128 Indigenous Defense Fighters, which are both undergoing upgrades.
The US has refused to sell Taiwan F-16C/D Block 52 fighters due to pressure from China. US officials have also stated there are fears the F-16C/Ds might fall into Chinese hands as relations between Taiwan and China continue to progress. 

Third Chengdu J-20 prototype flies

The third prototype of the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter made its maiden flight successfully on Saturday 1st March. According to the witness report on Chinese social media, the J-20 prototype “2011″ took the sky at about 12:00 local time, escorted by a Chengdu J-10S two-seater fighter. The entire flight lasted about 30 minutes before the aircraft landed safely.
The “2011″ prototype was first spotted at the test airfield of the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAIC) preparing for its maiden flight in early 2014. A low-speed taxi test took place on 16 January, followed by a high-speed taxi test on 18 January.

The maiden flight of the first J-20 prototype “2001″ in January 2011 took the Western intelligence completely by surprise. A second prototype “2002″ then made its maiden flight in May 2012.

Compared with its two predecessors, the “2011″ prototype features a number of modifications in its aerodynamic design and systems, with the most notable being a chin-mounted electro-optical targeting system (EOTS). 
Previous prototype above and below the current
Other modifications include new air intakes, redesigned nose section, differently shaped leading-edge extension, redesigned frame-strengthened canopy, different gear bays, and slightly different forward canard and tail fin tips. In addition, the aircraft also wears a new light-grey colour radar-absorbing coating.
The latest flight test suggests that rather than serving as a technology demonstrator, the J-20 may be on its way to become the world’s third operational 5th-generation fighter, after the Boeing F-22A Raptor and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II. However, before this can happen Chengdu engineers will need to overcome a number of technical obstacles, such as the lack of indigenous turbofan jet engine and credible avionics.