How do you say “Raptor” in Chinese?

H/T to Fringe.

So, the Chinese put on a public display of their J-31 stealth fighter, their knockoff of the US F-22A Raptor.


As Fringe noted, a couple details- one, those RD-93s smoke more than I do. And the roll rate as show was pretty meh. And I would note that the typical US Raptor airshow demonstration displays much more performance in the vertical plane. This was just a zoom climb and a couple of sustained turns.

The real question is how well its avionics and stealth work, and that’s simply not something we can discern from an airshow clip.

Further, it should be noted that China has a large air force, but only a tiny percentage of it is 4th generation fighter aircraft comparable to US equipment.

7 thoughts on “How do you say “Raptor” in Chinese?”

  1. The smoky engines don’t matter because, as we all know, they will all be shot down beyond visual range anyway.

  2. Seemed to be quite mushy in handling. The lack of “twitch” from the control surfaces appears that it’s not fly-by-wire as well.

    I think it’s more of a Raptor shape applied to Eagle flight control.

    Could still be decent in a fight, but I don’t think they’re showing true 5th gen here yet.

  3. Before everyone gets their panties in a wad about the J-31 and it’s brethren, bear in mind that the YF-22 and YF-23 prototypes first flew in 1990 when I was stationed at Edwards AFB. The F-22 was put into production and the entire production line has now been shut down and replaced with the F-35 line. The F-35 (and other unnamed aircraft), despite all of its faults, benefits from the lessons learned with the F-22 (and other unnamed aircraft).
    I agree that the Chinese have stolen a lot of info, but there’s a bunch that they don’t have access too, and that’s the “Secret Sauce” in our systems.

  4. RD-93 gives roughly F404-GE-402 class thrust performance in the 19,000lbf category. For a late model F/A-18C which has roughly a 24,000lb empty weight a mission weight in the 36-42,000lb range, this leads to severe thrust dilemmas which is one of the reasons why the Hornet is not a particularly stunning performer in the FL30-40 and Mach 1+ regime which dominates BVR combat.

    A stealth jet incurs multiple levels of weight disadvantage beyond that of normal aircraft due to everything from complex heat exchangers to RAM coating applications (a single, five gallon, bucket of SWAM, intended for the inlet of an RAF Tornado GR.1 in 1991, just before DS, was so heavy that it took two men to carry it) and of course the volume losses inherent to planform and faceting controls applied to the shape.

    Throw in a weapons bay and you can easily be talking 10-15,000lbs.

    Which means that, even if the jet is NOT designed for naval use (as the J-31 is speculated to be), implying a lower weight factored landing gear and structure, the Gyrfalcon is unlikely to be flying at much less than 45-50,000lbs mission weight which means it needs 25,000lbf F414-GE-402 capability along the lines of an EPE engine (i.e. not yet serviced on USN aircraft) to be competent in the air supremacy mission set. If supercruise is not necessary, it may be able to make do with baseline F414 technology in the 22,000lbf range.

    The problem being that the WS-13 engine is not seen to be a great advancement over the baseline RD-93 it is derived from and the length and taper of the aft fuselage don’t support it being in the F414 class.

    When you look at this aircraft as a Hornet class airframe overall (55ft vs. 56ft, 37ft vs. 40ft) you start to see that the engineering is simply not there because the F-22 looks like the F-15 for airframe size (63 X 42ft vs. 62ft X 44ft) simply because it could not get -bigger- and still fit within existing NATO hardened aircraft shelters.

    In fact, the F-22 is short of supercruise range largely because it has roughly 22,000lbs of fuel instead of the 25,000+ of the YF-23.

    Looked at from this perspective, what I see in the Gyrfalcon is the admission that the J-20 is a failed developmental effort based on the need to incorporate paired AL-31 engines (very long, very heavy) in tandem behind a 15ft weapons bay while retaining sufficiently aft-centered wings to accept the CG throw the powerplants. Which in turn mandates the canards that ruin the aircraft’s stealth.

    i.e. The J-20 is a failure for want of trying to be a Raptor mission set /as it should have been/ (second island chain HVA hunter) and because of it’s cost as engineering shortcomings it is being second rated by the J-31 which China is pushing as it’s own interest changes as well as for export.

    The Gyrfalcon doesn’t have side weapons bays and it doesn’t have TVC. Both of which redactions offer major weight savings. Even so, the main weapons bay is going to eat into available fuselage volume which means, at best, you are talking about 10,000lbs of fuel (Hornet class) which is known to be a severe detriment to that platform’s radius performance and one which virtually mandates two 330 gallon wing tanks, on every mission.

    External fuel = no VLO, regardless of what’s in the structural layout.

    Which is why this jet is, at best a sub-scale technology demonstrator, IMO.

    A real FC-31 would be at least Hornet E/F sized with 500-600 square feet of wing area on a 42-45ft wing, a 60ft length and an EEW in the 50-52,000lb class. This would allow it to carry perhaps 15-16,000lbs (Tomcat class) fuel for a at least short periods of supercruise. And provide genuine multirole capacity by stretching the fuselage enough to fix fineness ratios and provide tandem A2G ordnance loads as well as compressed/stacked AAM carriage and possibly a 2-seat variant which, currently, the F-35 doesn’t not provide.

    You’re still going to need to make some major advances in high temperature metallurgy and the black arts of engine flow dynamics but the Chinese are throwing 10+ billion dollars at this problem so it’s entirely possible that the WS-13A will be as different from the WS-13 as the RD-93.

    Alternatively, they can offset supercruise (he who runs fastest dies first) performance with ramjet powered AAMs based on Meteor equivalent engineering and simply use netcentrics to put the missiles into volume based on acoustic, seismic or optical tracks rather than depending upon airframe based sensors as the EOTS-86 and EORD-31.

    Obviously, radar and particularly systems like NEBO-UM and Skywatch 3D longwave systems will still be necessary to provide general volume search over areas without network ground systems but the idea that you can remission an AI radar towards being a rapid fire digital datalink. Datalinks go one way and talk to a transponder based tracking signature on a missile. Thus they don’t have to be large or powerful enough to track a stealth target at the 40-60nm possible for a ramjet to hit it.

    Since AESA are both expensive and heavy, with their dedicated PAO liquid cooling, this could be another way to control J-31 economies of scale.

    But it requires a massive front end investment in an ADGE that can provide the distant cue as well as the weapons system which operates on a SAGG/TVM basis of ‘tracking through the seeker’ rather than guiding through the radar.

    And by the way. Chinese for ‘Raptor’ is Měngqín.

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