China Begins Building Second Carrier

Actually, it’s their first domestically built carrier. Their first is a refurbished ex-Soviet carrier.

It will be interesting to see what the differences in the configuration are between Liaoning and the second carrier.

The speculation is that it too will use the “ski ramp” method for launching aircraft. Unlike US carrier with steam catapults, the ski ramp system is much simpler, but also limits the weapons and fuel any jet can launch with. China has worked closely with Brazil (which operates a carrier with steam catapults) so they should have access to the technology. And steam catapults are hardly new. They’ve been around for 60 years. Steam catapults may not be the easiest technology to master, but it is a rather straightforward engineering challenge.

We in the US think of our aircraft carriers almost exclusively in terms of power projection. From Korea, through Vietnam, Desert Storm and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the role of the carrier has been to sit off the enemy coast and send attacks ashore.

But China’s stated strategy is one of Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD). That is, they are structuring their forces and doctrine to deny us the ability to conduct operations in certain areas, or make them prohibitively expensive in lives and political support.

If the follow on carriers in Chinese service do use a ski ramp, that would effectively limit their fighters to a loadout of a modest number of air-to-air missiles, and a decent internal fuel load. So if Chinese carriers cannot reasonably be expected to perform War At Sea Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) attacks on our carrier groups, what is their possible doctrine?

Here’s my theory, based solely on PIOMA:

A Chinese carrier battle group of one or two carriers and escorts is intended to provide local air superiority over itself, and execute limited challenges to air superiority over our carrier forces.

China wouldn’t even have to secure air superiority over our carrier group, but instead, merely make credible challenges from time to time, while avoiding being destroyed.

It doesn’t take a lot of credible threat to one of our carriers before a large portion of the sorties generated have to be devoted solely to Combat Air Patrols (CAP) over the carrier for self protection. Indeed, the political consequences of losing a carrier, or even having one badly damaged, would tend to make force protection the first imperative for any US Navy operation. To say our current Navy is rather risk averse is to put it mildly.

And so, with a majority of the sorties of this notional carrier task force devoted to protecting itself, it has essentially become a self-licking ice cream cone. The carrier exists to provide air cover to the fleet, which the fleet is there to support carrier operations. See what I mean?

What do you think?

Locklear: US Pacific Dominance “Diminishing”? You don’t say, Admiral!

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Commander of US Pacific Command Admiral Sam Locklear seems to not have much of a knack for strategic thought.  Last March it was Locklear whom, in the face of a sabre-rattling North Korea and an intransigent and increasingly hostile China, defined his biggest strategic threat to be……  climate change. 

Recently, at the Surface Navy Association, Locklear again puts a round in the wood with his convoluted and childishly naïve assessment of The People’s Republic of China, after finally having the long-overdue epiphany that China actually represents a threat to US interests in the Pacific and elsewhere.

“China is going to rise, we all know that,” Adm. Locklear said, as reported by Defense News, which included several quotes from his speech at the annual Surface Navy Association meeting.

“[But] how are they behaving? That is really the question,” the admiral said, adding that the Pacific Command’s goal is for China “to be a net provider of security, not a net user of security.”

Not that Locklear is alone in his Pollyanna take on the PRC.  More than a few times, in wargames, and in discussions of events in the Pacific, I have heard senior officers discuss “co-opting” China as a “partner” to help “find a solution” to the problem, when the problem was very intentionally created by China and Chinese actions, because a change in status quo was in China’s best interests.   But Locklear has PACOM.   The People’s Republic of China is in his AOR.    Locklear’s bizarre assertions have gotten notice, finally.

“The problem with this formulation is, for whom does Adm. Locklear think China will be providing security?” said Dean Cheng, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “The implicit answer is ‘to everyone,’ because the assumption is that we can somehow mold China into being ourselves — that China will see its interests as somehow congruent and coincident with those of the United States, and therefore China will assume the mantle of regional provider of public goods.

“But this is a remarkable assumption, especially in light of recent Chinese behavior. China is not interested in providing security for everyone and, frankly, not even for anyone other than itself.”

A couple of news flashes for Sam Locklear.  China is not in a position to rise.  They ARE rising, and have been for some years.  The epiphany you had about China ending US dominance?   A little late.  By almost a decade.  China has been an unabashed supporter of DPRK bellicosity and intransigence, and has materially aided them in both weapons development and network exploitation capabilities.  They have undermined and eroded the Iran sanctions.  China has been long involved in penetration of US networks and theft of national and industrial secrets, as well as many tens of billions of dollars of intellectual property.  China has also made her intentions brutally clear on several occasions, in myriad ways.   Unfortunately, political being that he is, Sam Locklear is deaf to the sounds of a regional adversary playing power politics when his civilian masters deny that power politics even exist (except domestically, to get elected).
China as a force to be reckoned with has been something past Administrations have had to deal with, for sure.  Not all of them (Loral?) have done so prudently.  The continued shrinking of the US Navy under George W. Bush prevented a major US maritime presence in the Western Pacific while two wars unfolded in the Middle East.   But what has happened since January 2009 has been an emboldened China seeing a reluctant and amateurish Unites States foreign policy that lacks resolve and is determined to cut the very capabilities which would be most useful in deterring Chinese expansion in WESTPAC at the expense of our allies.   China smells blood (and opportunity), has greatly accelerated its efforts to establish complete regional hegemony, and has met with next to no opposition from the United States.   The US acquiescence to the Chinese ADIZ is a case in point.  Which is why you see Japan, and the Republic of Korea, India, and even the Philippines scrambling to build sufficient naval and military power to oppose China .  Those nations, all of the US allies, see a vacillating and irresolute America befuddled by the rules at the grown-up table.  American response to China’s increased aggression has been decidedly muted, while China’s proclamations of sovereignty over vast areas of the Pacific, and its military and diplomatic measures to cement that sovereignty have gone largely unchallenged.   The US, it is perceived, lacks the will to stand up to China.  Few indicators make that as clear as appointing someone like Sam Locklear to command PACOM.   Patrick Cronan at CNAS verbalizes it well.

Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, recently told The Washington Times that the U.S. is facing “a long game” when it comes to China.

Developments such as Beijing’s air defense zone may be “small tactical gambits,” Mr. Cronin said. But if the U.S. does not “respond and we don’t remain strong, then China will unilaterally redefine the region in a way that we do not recognize.”

President Obama’s promise that Defense cuts will not compromise US presence in the Pacific is being seen by both allies and enemies as largely disingenuous (and false) rhetoric more suited for the campaign trail than in diplomatic policy discussions.  The US position vis á vis China has been deteriorating for some time, and we are in danger of the bottom positively falling out.  Our Pacific allies sense that their ability to choose between Washington and Beijing may be nearing an end.   Sam Locklear seems to just be getting it.  Like the old woman who peeks out the front door of her house while the upstairs is engulfed in flames to ask the fireman rushing in, “Is there a problem?”

So when Admiral Locklear says “Our historic dominance that most of us in this room have enjoyed is diminishing, no question”, the first response that comes to mind would be that of my Senior Drill Instructor.  “NO SH*T, Sherlock!  What was your first clue?”   But this isn’t Marine OCS, and Locklear isn’t working a squad tactical problem.    Unfortunately, clueless as he is, he is a symptom of the disease, which permeates Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon.  I do hope the illness is not fatal.

2014 = 1914?

“History never repeats itself but it rhymes.” – Mark Twain.
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This year is the 100th anniversary of The War to End All Wars (that’s World War 1 to you Gen X’ers…I forget that history past Bushitler the year 2000 isn’t taught in public schools anymore). As such over the past few months there’s been a bit of pessimistic analysis of the current geopolitical situation we’ve currently got ourselves in. Pick a region, the Mid East, Europe, Russia, East Asia (hell, even here) there seems to be an uneasy sense of foreboding that the world is on edge (and if you’re paying attention and don’t watching TMZ, here’s a hint, IT IS). As the 2013 rolled into 2014 there are quite a few recent columns comparing the current geopolitical situation to that of the pre-WW1 world.

First up, the UK’s Telegraph has an article titled “The West Has Lost Control of the World and Disaster awaits.”

As we look forward to the First World War commemorations, three stark conclusions are hard to refute. First, that in the course of this century we will need a great deal of luck to avoid a nuclear catastrophe. Second, that the Enlightenment has failed. Third, that this can all be traced back to the Great War.

I’m quite surprised that we have yet to see the use of nuclear weapons in anger (I’m sure what we don’t know about prevented attacks in the GWOT would scare the hell out of us). However, I do believe that we will see the use of nuclear weapons in anger within out lifetime.

Next  The National Interest has an piece showing that though our leaders display an astounding and disturbing belief that they can change basic human nature, we’ve already been here:

Events in the year that had just ended convinced Carnegie that 1914 would be the decisive turning point towards peace. Just six months earlier, his decade-long campaign culminated in the inauguration of the Peace Palace at the Hague, which he believed would become the Supreme Court of nations. The Palace was built to house the new International Court of Arbitration that would now arbitrate disputes among nations that had historically been settled by war. As theEconomist noted, “the Palace of Peace embodies the great idea that gradually law will take the place of war.”

Carnegie’s Peace Palace captured the zeitgeist of the era. The most celebrated book of the decade, The Great Illusion, published in 1910, sold over two million copies. In it, Norman Angell exposed the long-held belief that nations could advance their interests by war as an “illusion.” His analysis showed that conquest was “futile” because “the war-like do not inherit the earth.”

However inspiring his hopes, Carnegie’s vision proved the illusion. Six months after his New Year’s greeting, a Serbian terrorist assassinated the Austro-Hungarian Archduke. Nine months on, the guns of August began a slaughter on a scale that demanded a new category: “World War.” By 1918, Europe lay devastated, and a millennium in which it had been the creative center of the world was over.

Citing Japan’s lost decade, the article discusses the possibility of war between the US/Japan and China. I’m not sure I agree but the article makes for an interesting historical parallel.

The Economist brings us it’s take on the World War historical parallel:

Yet the parallels remain troubling. The United States is Britain, the superpower on the wane, unable to guarantee global security. Its main trading partner, China, plays the part of Germany, a new economic power bristling with nationalist indignation and building up its armed forces rapidly. Modern Japan is France, an ally of the retreating hegemon and a declining regional power. The parallels are not exact—China lacks the Kaiser’s territorial ambitions and America’s defence budget is far more impressive than imperial Britain’s—but they are close enough for the world to be on its guard.

Which, by and large, it is not. The most troubling similarity between 1914 and now is complacency. Businesspeople today are like businesspeople then: too busy making money to notice the serpents flickering at the bottom of their trading screens. Politicians are playing with nationalism just as they did 100 years ago. China’s leaders whip up Japanophobia, using it as cover for economic reforms, while Shinzo Abe stirs Japanese nationalism for similar reasons. India may next year elect Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist who refuses to atone for a pogrom against Muslims in the state he runs and who would have his finger on the button of a potential nuclear conflict with his Muslim neighbours in Pakistan. Vladimir Putin has been content to watch Syria rip itself apart. And the European Union, which came together in reaction to the bloodshed of the 20th century, is looking more fractious and riven by incipient nationalism than at any point since its formation.

Some interesting analysis that sees parallels in the Western Pacific to Europe around 1914.

Brookings has the coup de gras and this is also your weekend reading assignment:

Globalization also makes possible the widespread transmission of radical ideologies and the bringing together of fanatics who will stop at nothing in their quest for the perfect society. In the period before World War I, anarchists and revolutionary socialists across Europe and North America read the same works and had the same aim: to overthrow the existing social order. The young Serbs who assassinated Archduke Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo were inspired by Nietzsche and Bakunin, just as their Russian and French counterparts were. Terrorists from Calcutta to Buffalo imitated each other as they hurled bombs onto the floors of stock exchanges, blew up railway lines, and stabbed and shot those they saw as oppressors, whether the Empress Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary or U.S. President William McKinley.

Globalization has been around longer than the interwebs and those that believe the interwebs somehow changes everything are arrogantly wrong. Human nature never changes, only the technological means. Then it was steam locomotives and the telegraph.

It is tempting—and sobering—to compare today’s relationship between China and the U.S. with that between Germany and England a century ago. Now, as then, the march of globalization has lulled us into a false sense of safety. Countries that have McDonald’s, we are told, will never fight each other. Or as President George W. Bush put it when he issued his National Security Strategy in 2002, the spread of democracy and free trade across the world is the surest guarantee of international stability and peace.

There are some finer points with which I disagree. I’m not harboring any delusions about who Brookings is, ie pretty far left.  The biggest in my mind, is that they blame “a partisan and uncooperative Congress” for the lack of leadership from the White House. Those that pay attention understand Obama has NEVER been a leader.

Is 2014 like 1914? I’m not sure but I think the historical parallels are very interesting considering what’s going both overseas and domestically. I know only that time will tell and we’ll find out as this year marches on. Most of the readership is but if you’re I suggest to start paying attention.

“May you live in interesting times”

Oh yeah and Happy New Year.

The PLAAF Aggressor Program

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The unit insignia for PLAAF’s FTTC.

While there isn’t a lot of information in the public domain regarding what we term in the West as “aggressor squadrons” in China, there is some out there in books and various online sources.

What we do know is that the main unit for the PLAAF (China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force) to simulate what they call “Blue-Force (the OPFOR in the West is usually called “Red Force”)” combat simulation operations is called the Flight Test and Training Centre (FTTC). The FTTC traces it’s lineage to the 11th Aviation School that was established in 1953 in Huxian, Shaanxi Province. FTTC was established in 1987 and is located at Cangzhou, (the airfield is located about 10 miles northeast of the center of the city) in the Hebei Province, located in the Beijing Military Region (an FTTC detachment of J-10s is also located at Juicheng).

The FTTC is organized into 3 regiments which simulate enemy (mainly Western) aircraft. The 1st FTTC Regiment operates the J-10A/AS (these are mostly pre-production machines) and the JL-9. The 2nd FTTC Regiment operates the J-7E,J-8D/F, and JL-9. The 3rd Regiment operates the Su-30MKK. The J-10 probably simulates the F-16F/A-18MiG-29F-CK-1F-2Mirage 2000RafaleTyphoon and other similar types operated by potential enemies. The J-7, J-8, and JL-9 probably simulate older former Soviet types (MiG-1517,192123s) and American built F-5s and F-4s still operated by China’s potential enemies. The Su-30MKK probably simulates primarily the F-15 and F/A-18E/F but also the F-14 and SU-27 series (they use to simulate F-16s before the arrival of the J-10).

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PLAAF SU-30MKK from the FTTC’s 3rd Regiment.
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PLAAF J-7E from the FTTC’s 2nd Regiment.
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A division of PLAAF J-7Es from the FTTC’s 2nd Regiment.
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A PLAAF J-10A from the FTTCs 1st Regiment. Note the “Aggressor” color scheme.
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A PLAAF J-10As from the FTTCs 1st Regiment. Note the “Aggressor” color scheme.

Operationally, not much is known about the syllabus of the FTTC. We do know that the FTTC maintains a personnel exchange agreement with the Russian Airforce Lipetsk training school to improve tactics and training. As with other “post-graduate” fighter training schools, they the crews are highly regarded within the PLAAF fighter community.

In 2011, the 3rd Regiment of the FTTC traveled to Pakistan to excerise with the Pakistani Air Force. 2 SU-30MKKs and a 12 member ground crew deployed to PAF Bases Chaklala, Minhas, and Mushaf. They contact DACT (dissimilar air combat training) against the PAF’s Mirage IIIMirage 5P, and the JF-17. IL-78 tankers and Saab 340 AEW&C aircraft were also involved in these excerises called “Shaheen-1.”

Shaheen-1 is recalled here. Another interesting anecdote in the article is the development of a TACTS system for the PLAAF:

The PAF and PLAAF, along with companies like China’s CETC International and Pakistan’s Wah cantonment-based Advanced Engineering Research Organization (AERO), have, since 2008, been also working together on developing a rangeless dissimilar air combat training system (DACTS) and an air combat manoeuvring instrumentation (ACMI) system, both of which, by using GPS technology, allow pilots to train in any available airspace without reliance on a ground-based, tethered range. A rangeless ACMI system can support up to 100 high-activity aircraft and up to 100 simultaneous weapons-launch simulations in a single training exercise. While the IAF had acquired two sets of ‘EHUD’ rangeless DACTS/ACMI training aids worth US$42 million from Israel Aircraft Industries’ (IAI) MLM Division in the late 1990s, and followed it by acquiring a supplementary system—comprising digital video-cum-data recorders (DVDR) and ground debriefing systems (GDS)—for its Su-30MKIs from Israel’s RADA Electronic Industries Ltd, such training aids have, to date, remained elusive for both the PAF and PLAAF due to US and EU export control regulations imposed since the late 1980s. The kind of DACTS/ACMI systems now sought by China and Pakistan are presently made by companies such as DIEHL/BGT Defence GmbH of Germany (maker of the Flight Profile Recorder system), US-based DRS Defense Solutions Inc and Cubic Defense Systems, Israel’s IAI/MLM Division RADA Electronic Industries Ltd, Singapore’s Prescient Systems & Technologies (a subsidiary of Singapore’s ST Electronics), and Dong Ji Inter-Tech of South Korea. Given the unavailability of DACTS/ACMI systems being made available for export from Europe, Israel and the US, it appears highly likely that the PAF and PLAAF will eventually procure such systems from the Far East.

The rangeless DACTS/ACMI system being sought by the PAF and PLAAF will have four main elements: the ACMI pod, DVDR, real-time monitoring station (RTMS), and GDS. Designed with the same aerodynamics performance of an actual air combat missile, the ACMI pod is an exact replica of the air combat missile whose performance needs to be simulated. The homogeny includes its physical dimensions, weight, mechanical and, electrical and electromagnetic interference characteristics. The pod allows for real-time data transmission, reception and relay between the aircraft and a ground-based RTMS, as well as a GDS for combat outcome assessment and debriefing. The ACMI pod, incorporated with GPS technology, is retrofitted on to the aircraft. The flight data is captured and recorded in data cartridges that can be easily removed for after-action review at the RTMS or GDS. The combat and flight data of the air crew is relayed by the pod to the RTMS. This data is then used to monitor the training scenarios in real-time as well as to conduct post-flight debrief during the after-action reviews. Data recorded and stored by the DVDR is used to reconstruct the spatial flight patterns of all participating aircraft, superimposed on a three-dimensional representation of the mission terrain. Data among all aircraft is automatically synchronised by the GDS. When two screens are used (one for three-dimensional imagery, the other for video), both displays are synchronised as well with no user intervention. All viewing angles and directions, whether from within the cockpits or outside, are user-selectable and adjustable. The GDS is capable of conducting simultaneous, synchronised recording and playback of numerous digital channels, carrying audio and video from multiple sources. The system supports specialty features such as simulation and analysis tools for mission debriefing, and military unit data management. Utilising COTS-based PC technology, the GDS is designed for advanced squadron-level post-flight debriefing.

Note that this article makes reference to a unit called “8th PLAAF Flight Academy.” At the time of writing, this unit no longer exists and was absorbed in into the 13th PLAAF Flight Academy which itself became the PLAAF’s “Aviation University Instructor Training Base.”

Since 2011 there’s no further update about the system but since it’s based on Commercial Off-The-Shelf technology I would image that it’s already deployed for use by the PLAAF.

There also isn’t further information on any other deployments that the FTTC may have made to foreign countries.

Sources:

Respective aircraft Wikipedia pages.

Modern Chinese Warplanes.

International Air Power Review Volume 22.

China Defense Blog.

Information Dissemination.

Chengdu J-10 Photo Walkaround

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A 3-view drawing of the Chengdu J-10A with available weapons options.

Although revelaled to the general public by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) on 29 December 2006 the J-10 first flew on 23 March 1998.  The J-10’s development period was very protracted as is represents a quantum leap in China’s domestic aviation capability. Previous designs of fighter aircraft which were primarily Chinese copies of former Soviet fighter designs.

The J-10 serves with the PLAAF (insert number of aircraft) The J-10 exists in 8 variants:
J-10A: is the first generation version powered by either the WS-10 or AL-31FN turbofan.
J-10S: the combat capable 2-seat version of the A.
J-10AY: a variant unarmed specially developed for the PLAAF’s August 1st display team (similar to the A).
J-10SY: the twin-seat version of the J-10AY.
J-10AH: the single seat variant in service with the PLANAF.
J-10SH: twin seat verision ins service with the PLANAF.
J-10B: an upgraded version of the J-10A.
FC-20: an export version intended for Pakistan.

There are about 300 J-10s (all versions but the J-10B) in service with 10 regiments within the PLAAF (FTTC, 44th, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 24th, 9th, 15th, 12th, 124 brigade) and 1 regiment within the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) (the 4th division 12th regiment).

These photos first here about 16 November 2013. It appears in Chinese and this is the first attempt at putting some of the walkaround into English:

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A J-10SY (a J-10S built or modified especially for the PLAAF August 1st display team) illustrates the smoke generator (similar to the PL-9 with the same aerodynamic shape and characteristics).
The twin canopy is also highlighted. The inset details the lightning strike discharger on the J-10A (single seater)
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Upper left corner: detail of the J-10s vertical tail. From front to back. Probably an ECM antenna (for front aircraft coverage), a red navigation light, probably “Odd Rods” IFF antenna, a static discharge wick, a rear navigation light, a cover over the ARW-9101 RWR and finally another static discharge wick. Below a closeup of the ventral fins possible containing aerials for communications equipment. Right: (other than what’s already covered) and the parachute housing with ECM transciever below.
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This photo illustrates the J-10SY’s zero-zero ejection seat’s attitude sensors. Also note the canopy rear view mirrors. The rear cockpit instrument panel contains a HUD repeater (top) and 3 digital color multi-function displays. Note the construction number on the canopy rail.
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Close up detail view of the rear cockpit HTY-5 ejection seat attitude sensor.
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Front cockpit HUD (control panel below) and the ejection seat attitude sensor. The construction number is available on the canopy rail.
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The KLJ-3 multimode radar. The KLJ-3 is said to be based on the AN/APG-66/88 series. It’s said to have a maximum detection range of 81 miles and an engagement range of 56 miles. It can also track 4 to 6 targets simultaneously and engage 2 targets at one time.
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Tangentially located four-petal airbrakes on the rear fuselage (2 are located next to the tail and the other 2 are located between the ventral stabilators.
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The J-10’s cruciform braking parachute as deployed on landing.
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The J-10’s braking parachute being installed in it’s storage compartment on the aircraft.
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A closeup the interior of one of the J-10’s ventral airbrakes. Interiors of airbrakes and bays are painted red as they are on US Navy aircraft to alert groundcrew of deployment.
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The segmented afterburner nozzle of the AL-31FN turbofan. The AL-31FN produces 17,857lbs of thrust dry and 27,557lbs of thrust in afterburner.
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A close up detail view of the J-10s in-flight refueling probe. The probe itself is fixed but detachable.
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Another detail view of the J-10’s bolt-on fixed inflight refueling probe. A illumination light for refueling at night is fitted below the windscreen on the starboard side only.
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A closeup of the H-6U tanker’s in-flight refueling hose basket.
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The ventral engine intake of the J-10. The 2 segmented inlet ramp is perforated to prevent ingestion of the stagnant boundary layer. The ramp is designed to slow down incoming air to subsonic speeds before the airflow reaches the turbofan engine face. The forward segment of the ramp appears to have a range of motion, at the forward hinge, 30 degrees.
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A closeup of the forward inlet ramp’s perforation. Note the red engine air intake cover.
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A “down the throat” look at the ventral engine intake (with the AL-31FN engine removed).
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Upper left: A detail view of the ground refueling receptacle and some interesting detail of the wing/fuselage junction. Also detail of the parachute housing in the tail.
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A look at a few on the ground servicing point of the J-10. The red boxes in the photo highlight the ground refueling receptacle and the open parachute container at the tail.
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The standard PLAAF TK-11 helmet with attachment point for a helmet mounted sight receptacle. A YM-6 oxygen mask and various other life support equipment for the pilot including oxyygen hose, koch fittings, and g-suit.
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A look up close at the forward fuselage. The 3 struts above the air intake at the lower left. The ECM fairing immediately above in gray. The insignia is that of the August 1st display team. Immediately in front and slightly below the AoA probe and the IFR probe illumination light is above. Further forward and just below the red cheatline is an air data probe for airspeed indication.
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Top photo is detail of the 3 struts keeping the intake out of the fuselage boundary layer. The vents on the side provide exhaust for the boundary layer separated by the intake ramp. Next to digit “12” is a green navigation/station keeping light. Also note the numbers on the panels for easier maintenance.
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A close up of the J-10s intake struts. These lower the intake out of the boundary layer and help the fuselage/intake section maintain a form of structural rigidity. Behind the struts is another longitudinally mounted separator strut.
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Above the person’s head is the air data probe. The lines on the radome are lightning strike dischargers. Between the 2 dischargers is an AoA probe. the the bottom is another probe probably for air pressure and aft of the AoA probe is another airdata probe for the pitot static system.
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Other than what’s pointed out in the previous picture, the rectangular antenna is for the UHF/VHF radio.
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Forward of the “07” digit is the red navigation/station keeping light. There are various panels around the digits but the arrow points rescue crews to the panel to manually jettison the canopy from the outside. Also visible on the nosegear door is the aircraft construction number (this is an assigned number at the factory) “J10AY0514.” The number is also repeated in the front of the smaller door forward of the nosegear main strut.
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A detail view of the port side main gear and associated equipment. The landing light and the various hydraulic and electrical lines.
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An in-flight view of the J-10AY from the PLAAF’s August 1st display team. Again immediately behind the canopy, GPS, VHF/UHF, and another navigation equipment antenna (maybe a TACAN or LORAN type instrument?). On the port side wingtip is the green navigation light. Note the dropped leading edge for improved aerodynamic and handling characteristics. Also, note the vapor coming off the leading edge indicating some high-g maneuvering.
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An in-flight view of the J-10AY detailing the GPS antenna just aft of the canopy. Note the deflection of the starboard side canard.
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A comparison of degree of travel of the leading edge slat. The inset view probably shows the closed position. The main photo shows the leading edge slat about half deployed.
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The same J-10AY, this time the aft fuselage and tail section. Noteworthy here is the strut with the ventral fin mounted on it as well as the navigation lights on each wingtip.
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Detail view on the main landing gear bay showing pneumatic (black) and hydraulic lines (gray). The large yellow hose looks like an engine bleed air line.
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According to the construction number “J100106” on the nosegear door of this J-10A is tail number 50556 it belongs to the 44th Fighter Division, 131st Air Regiment based at Luliang in the Chengdu MR. Also note the landing gear light and oleo strut forward. The green antenna just forward of the gear door is for navigation equipment.
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Production of the J-10A recently ended after 7 batches, totaling 300 aircraft. The J-10B entered full production earlier this year after beginning flight test in 2008. The J-10B is the next generation version of the J-10 and is the first Chinese fighter equipped with AESA radar and a number of improvements detailed in the picture below:

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There are rumors of the existence of another variant of the J-10 called the J-10C but no details are available.

[UPDATE]:

RE: J-10C. 

Today (31 December 2013) someone  posted this 3 view on a Chinese language defense forum claiming to be the J-10C:

J-10C

Note the conformal fuel tanks and maybe a different engine. I’m not sure what the appendages are on the wings, maybe ECM but certainly not a BVR AAM. 

However I can’t speak to the image’s authenticity.

Sources:

International Air Power Review Volume 22.

Modern Chinese Warplanes.

Information Dissemination: 2013 Chinese Air Force Review

J-10 Wikipedia page.

Thanks to friends of the blog, RJL and DKE for assistance with this project.

The Alert 5 site.

No Substitute For Experience: Chinese Anti-Piracy in the Gulf of Aden

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PLA Navy Type 52D Destroyer

Eaglespeak has linked a report from the Naval War College on PLAN’s Anti Piracy Operations in the Gulf Of Aden in 2008. It’s your weekend reading assignment.

From the preface of No Substitute For Experience: Chinese Anti-Privacy in the Gulf of Aden:

The twenty-sixth of December 2012 marked an important date in Chinese military history—the fourth anniversary of China’s furthest and most extensive naval operations to date, the ongoing antipiracy deployments in the Gulf of Aden. In the first-ever simultaneous three-fleet public display, China’s North Sea Fleet, East Sea Fleet, and South Sea Fleet all held “open day activities.” The guided-missile destroyers Qingdao, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen and guided-missile frigate Zhoushan, together with their associated helicopters and personnel, were visited by more than eight thousand people “from all sectors of the society” at the port cities after which they are named. Over the past four years, the People’s Liberation Army Navy has deployed nearly ten thousand personnel on thirty-seven warships with twenty-eight helicopters in thirteen task forces. Over the course of more than five hundred operations, these forces have protected more than five thousand commercial vessels—Chinese and foreign in nearly equal proportion, the latter flagged by more than fifty nations. They have “successfully met and escorted, rescued and salvaged over 60 ships.” Ships saved from pirates by PLAN ships include four transports loaded with World Food Programme cargo.

If you’re a PLAN watcher you’ll want to read this and while you’re reading that, you’ll need a refresher on the newest PLAN warship classes.

Looking at the map, it’s interesting how it mirrors the voyages of Zheng He during the 15th century Ming Dynasty.

A stationary full-size model of a "middle-sized" treasure boat (63.25 m long) at the Treasure Boat Shipyard site in Nanjing. It was built ca. 2005 from concrete and wooden planking.
A stationary full-size model of a “middle-sized” treasure boat (63.25 m long) at the Treasure Boat Shipyard site in Nanjing. It was built ca. 2005 from concrete and wooden planking.

Has the sun set on the carrier task force?

There are basically two types of naval operations. Sea Control, or Power Projection.

Sea Control is just that, controlling the Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs, or basically the shipping lanes) and denying the enemy the ability to interdict them. The prime example is the US and RN convoy operations in the North Atlantic fending off the U-Boat attempts to sever the logistical lifeline.

Power Projection is sailing your fleet to the enemy’s shores to impose your will upon him. Examples of this from World War II abound, with the Fast Carrier Task Forces appearing at will to pound Japanese installations throughout the Central Pacific, and eventually even the Home Islands. The Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor is another example of a fleet being used for power projection.

Not surprisingly, while some ship types serve admirably in both roles, the differences in missions has tended to produce very different types.  A fleet with a large number of small missile armed combatants would likely be considered a Sea Control fleet, attempting to deny an enemy the ability to close its shores.

And of course, the modern exemplar of the Power Projection fleet is the US Navy Carrier Strike Group centered upon a massive nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

While our Navy has, since 1940, always had a strong Sea Control element, it has mostly been constituted as a Power Projection force. After all, if you can project enough power to defeat your enemy in his home port, that also pretty much guarantees control of the sea lanes.

And so it comes to pass, that Thomas Ricks pens a piece for the Washington Post calling for the Navy to shed its carriers.  As usual, Ricks is FW, NiD.

Bryan McGrath, professional naval type (as opposed to Ricks, professional windbag) does an admirable job of rebutting Ricks claims of the carrier’s supposed vulnerabilities.

To be sure, there are arguments against McGrath’s piece. The carrier is certainly not invulnerable. James R. Foot over at The Diplomat makes this point.

Holmes piece notes that finding the carrier is the fulcrum upon which the issue is weighed. But he misses a key point in the chain from detection to kill. Yes, China and any number of other nations have radars that can detect a carrier at distances far beyond the strike range of a carrier.

That overlooks one thing. The waters in question are among some of the most heavily transited in the world.  It’s one thing to find a blip on a radar screen. But the kill chain is comprised of more steps than “detect” and “kill.” It is detect, localize, classify, attack, kill, and assess.  Ricks and Holmes argument ignores the classify step. While a carrier may well be an enormous radar target, it is hardly alone in this. Virtually every large cargo ship or tanker has a similarly large radar return

And it isn’t as though the US Navy doesn’t have ample experience in avoiding being found. Little known outside naval circles, NORPAC 82 managed to scare the crap out of the Soviet Union. Basically, the US Navy snuck two complete carrier battlegroups up into the Northern Pacific undetected, roamed around at will while the Soviets desperately searched for them, simulated strikes against the Soviet bases, and when the carriers finally deigned to be found, simulated shooting the heck out of the Soviet bombers sent to “sink” the carriers.

For every vulnerability that a modern carrier has, the alternatives suffer even more. Our options beside the Carrier Strike Group are essentially to abandon aviation in maritime areas (though how that is supposed to negate Chinese aviation, I don’t know) or shift to land based airpower. But land bases are even more vulnerable to counterattack than any carrier. After all, the Chinese already know where every available airfield is.

Carriers have tremendous mobility. They give a commander the ability to strike at a place and time of his choosing.

Much as the cavalry, the carrier can move fast, strike hard, and withdraw, to strike again elsewhere. Indeed, this mobility and ability to keep the enemy reacting to our actions is part and parcel with our agility, our ability to seize the initiative and hold it. It is a far more likely method of getting inside any enemy OODA loop than land based airpower.

So the sun has not set on the fast task force centered around the nuclear aircraft carrier. That’s not to say Naval Aviation hasn’t made poor choices, or that the Carrier Strike Group is invulnerable. The CSG can’t park off an enemy coast indefinitely to impose its will. But as part of a well conceived campaign, it gives the US far more ability to project power than any alternative that excludes the aircraft carrier.

Reuters: North Korea says Jang Song Thaek, uncle of leader Kim Jong Un, executed

Jang Song-thaek and Kim Jong-un

That didn’t take long.

“The accused Jang brought together undesirable forces and formed a faction as the boss of a modern day factional group for a long time and thus committed such hideous crime as attempting to overthrow the state,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

Earlier, the BBC quoted DPRK State Media with this to say about Thaek’s arrest:

The state news agency KCNA accused Mr Chang of forming factions against the state, corruption and “depraved” acts such as womanising and drug abuse.

How do you spell “Teddy Kennedy” in Chosongul?  And where’s Johnny Cochran when you need him?

Rarely-seen Photographs from the Korean War

These were published in the Denver Post back in 2010, but are worth a look.   Many are incredibly poignant, and show the misery and hardship of what war was like in Korea, and what it would be like today.   It is important to note the conditions, the terrain, and the utter exhaustion of the men in many of the photographs, especially as we decide to debate the physical demands of combat arms.

Unforgotten War

Korean War

Korean War

Korean War

There are more than a hundred of them.  Worth a cup of coffee and half an hour to look at all of them.

H/T

Miss Robin