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.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLQEtRxflEU]

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.

The PLAAF Aggressor Program

FTTC Badge
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.
20131222-112428.jpg

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:

acgJr

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.