Chinese Aerospace Industry Updates

AbRaj

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Dec 6, 2017
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China's J-20 Stealth Fighter Stuns By Brandishing Full Load Of Missiles At Zhuhai Air Show​

Beijing's stealth fighter shows its full set of teeth for the very first time.​

BY TYLER ROGOWAY NOVEMBER 11, 2018
THE WAR ZONE

TYLER ROGOWAYView Tyler Rogoway's Articles
Aviation_Intel
On the last day of China's biennial air show and weapons expo in Zhuhai, a pair of the country's J-20 heavy stealth fighters added a surprise twist to their routine—they popped open their weapons bays and showed off full magazines of missiles. This is the first time such a full load of weapons has been fully exposed and the first time China has officially shown off the jet's complete internal weapons configuration in the flesh.


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What we see isn't necessarily surprising, but it is interesting nonetheless. In the main ventral bays, the J-20 is carrying four PL-15 medium-to-long-range air-to-air missiles. The type is somewhat analogous to the American AIM-120D AMRAAM. Speculation about what missile actually would hold the PL-15 designation has bounced around a lot, with very long-range missiles and those fitted with throttleable ramjets also potentially receiving the designation, but now it seems the PL-15 is indeed a dual-pulse motor and AESA equipped missile with a similar profile as its predecessor PL-12. The PL-12 is loosely analogous to the AIM-120A/B.


CHINESE INTERNET
Note that even with their clipped fins, only four PL-15s are mounted in the J-20's bays in a similar fashion to the YF-22's missile configuration. It isn't clear exactly what the launch mechanism for these missiles is based on these photos. A staggered arrangement with six PL-15s may be possible in the future by the looks of the bays, but this depends a lot on the how the missiles are ejected from the bay itself. The F-22 uses a trapeze launcher system to chuck the missiles clear of the bay. The J-20's main weapons bays also look remarkably uncluttered, which makes one wonder if the missiles are just mounted to static hardpoints inside, but this is doubtful as what appear to be launchers have been visible in the J-20s bays for years.

CHINESE INTERNET
The most interesting part of this display of the J-20's lethal payload carrying abilities is the pair of PL-10s deployed on the outside of the jet's side weapons bays. This novel configuration is one of the most fascinating aspects of the J-20's design. I was one of the first to point it out and explain its utility back in early 2013, when I wrote the following:
"The F-22, a very loose analog for the J-20 (emphasize very), uses a canted trapeze that pushes the AIM-9’s seeker out into the air-stream for proper establishment of a lock before launch once the bay doors are swung open. Only once the missile has acquired a target and the pilot 'receives tone' (the AIM-9 series has an audible growl as it hunts for a heat source, once it finds one it goes from an intermittent growling sound to a solid tone, cueing the pilot to fire) the missile can be fired and only then do the launch bay doors close up.
This method increases the F-22’s radar signature dramatically while also disturbing the airflow around the jet which makes for lower performance and a rougher ride during close-in air combat maneuvering, or dogfighting. Soon, the F-22 will have the AIM-9X Block II which features lock-on after launch data-link capability. In other words, the pilot can 'acquire' a target via his or hers onboard sensors, including the hopefully forthcoming Scorpion helmet mounted display... Once the target is 'virtually locked' within the AIM-9X Block II’s engagement envelope the pilot can quickly fire the Sidewinder, with the bay doors opening and closing momentarily, and allow the data-link to transfer the acquiring secondary sensor’s info to the missile after it has left the bay in the form of a vector [to the target]. The missile will fly in this prescribed direction so that it can acquire the target itself, at which point the AIM-9X Block II becomes truly 'fire and forget.'
Once the AIM-9X Block II is integrated into the Raptor, and especially once the helmet mounted display is operational, the F-22’s side bay doors only have to briefly open to let the AIM-9X on its one-way mission. All this begs the question: If China loves copying the US when it comes to weapons systems, why not just build something similar for the J-20 when it comes to deploying its short-range air-to-air missiles?
The answer is quite simple, lock-on after launch capability is not an easy one to achieve. It is technologically complex, requires deep systems integration (software architecture permitting), and robust testing using live missiles, and thus it is expensive. China, being the resourceful and cunning folks that they are, figured out a way to employ any new or relatively archaic high-off-bore-sight short ranged air to air missile while keeping the jet’s aerodynamics relatively intact (doors closed during prolonged maneuvering while the missile hangs out on its rail) while also minimizing the impact a 'deployed missile' has the J-20’s low radar cross-section.
That is right folks, China just said "we don’t want to have to rely on LOAL capability, so why not just temporarily (as in for seconds or minutes) mount a similarly agile, but much less complex and expensive, short ranged air-to-air missile outsideof the bay during times when close range combat is imminent?”
This is exactly what they did, and honestly, I think it is genius. Radar signature becomes a small factor when fighting for one’s life at close range, having a reliable missile ready to make a u-turn off the rail and subsequently turn your enemy into chaff is so important that is can be seen as a life and death requirement [especially for a big, not remarkably maneuverable fighter]. The alternative, such as the reality the F-22 has faced for the better part of a decade, is that you open the bay up for prolonged periods of time and pay a large penalty in radar cross section and [some] performance. Also, by building a relatively simple contraption, kind of similar to one of those bars that goes on your lap on a roller coaster, albeit with a missile attached, Chinese engineers simplified the launch system and also probably made it much lighter than an F-22 type design. Once again, genius.
Another point to be taken from the J-20’s short-range air-to-air missile launch mechanism revelations are that designers absolutely thought it was necessary to give this jet high-off-bore-sight close range missile capability from day one, and in a reliable and persistent nature when needed. This could be due to lack of maneuverability and/or because of its mission, which I have said for years is to break through the enemy’s (American, Taiwanese etc.) fighter cover and take out their enablers (see tankers, AEW&C, C2 and connectivity nodes). In such a case, being electronically silent is your best bet at surviving, so using infra-red passively guided missiles, which require no electronic emissions, at medium-close ranges may be your only play, at least for anything that does not put out a continuous or semi-continuous form of radiation (see AWACS or JSTARS). In that case, a passively guided anti-radiation missile may be the J-20’s weapon of choice, or a medium-long range AAM that can get within locking distance and featuring active radar or IR for terminal homing, via a traditional data-link feeding the J-20’s targeting picture to it provided by passive sensors (IRST, ESM etc).

CHINESE INTERNET
A diagram of how the rail works as well as a shot of it dating back to roughly late 2012 during the J-20's early testing in Chengdu.
Here's a cool little animation of how this system works.
Something I would like to emphasize from my original analysis is that the PL-10 that is fired from these side bays is something of a short-to-intermediate range air-to-air missile. This means that in addition to the missile being capable of high-off-boresight shots that are cued via the J-20's helmet-mounted display or other sensors during a dogfight, it is also capable of near beyond-visual-range engagements as well.


Able to reach out over a dozen miles or so (possibly substantially farther according to different assessments), this missile, combined with its ability to ride outside of the J-20's side-bays, can be used as a silent assassin of sorts. The J-20 can leverage its stealth and sneak up on targets without emitting any electromagnetic energy, using just its advanced passive avionics, which includes electronic surveillance measures, infrared search and track and electro-optical targeting systems, and third-party sensor data fed to it via data-link, to locate its prey.
In other words, the J-20 can take advantage of the PL-10 when maximum emissions control tactics are used or when it has snuck up on its target and gets within close, but not yet short-range. Using these methods, the J-20 pilot can also use the PL-10 for offensive tasks when its longer-range missiles are expended. Considering the jet only carries four long-range missiles, at least at this time, being able to wield the PL-10 to its maximum potential is key. Once again, this is in addition to using the missile in classic close-range dogfighting scenarios.
Finally, an infrared-guided missile with decent range like this and the ability to hang outside the bay for prolonged periods of time is also a good fallback when fighting in heavy electronic warfare environments as the missile's imaging infrared seeker is not impacted by electronic warfare tactics.

As for the rest of the J-20's air show display, it looks pretty much exactly as what one would expect from a big, canard-equipped heavy fighter-interceptor that doesn't possess gobs of excess power. It can roll fairly fast and it can change direction quickly and point its nose decently, but it bleeds energy very fast and energy recovery is likely slow. But extreme agility wasn't the motivation idea behind this design, so that isn't surprising. With uprated engines, it will only get more capable in this regard, though.


At the air show, the J-20's designer even teased that the thrust vectoring tech that is now being tested on a modified J-10B, a jet that flew at the show as well, may find itself on the J-20, or maybe it has even already been tested. Equipping the J-20 with thrust vectoring now seems counterproductive as it adds weight to an aircraft that is already in need of more powerful engines. But as time goes on, and as new powerplants are fitted, the weight issue may not be so pressing.
Still, the added capability of thrust vectoring is debatable, but as the J-20's designer stated, it could reduce the J-20's canard deflections during flight. Fluttering flight control surfaces are not good for a stealthy aircraft's radar cross-section. This is an issue I have discussed in depth before and one of the biggest knocks against the J-20's delta-canard design which puts those surfaces—two huge ones in fact—up front where a stealthy aircraft's radar cross section is most sensitive and important to its survival. So maybe that alone is enough to justify migrating thrust vectoring tech to the J-20.

China did do something else pretty unique at Zhuhai 2018 in that it appears that they devised a way to allow a J-10 to 'torch.' Of course, this operation was made famous by the F-111, andAustralia's 'Pigs' in particular. The maneuver, which included dumping fuel and lighting it on fire with the jet's afterburners, was forbidden in the U.S., at least in the latter years of the F-111's reign, so it is a bit funny that China seems to have gone out of their way to pull something similar off. It appears as if this ability uses the August 1st Display Team's smoke oil injector to function. It could also be a malfunction of that system, but I doubt that's the case. Either way, it's cool to see a fighter in China torching it up!

Contact the author: [email protected]

High-Quality Shots Of Unpainted Chinese J-20 Stealth Fighter Offer New Capability Insights​

China is giving us increasingly better views of their top fighter design which are helping to answer some important capability questions.​

BY TYLER ROGOWAY JULY 31, 2018
THE WAR ZONE
CHINESE INTERNET
TYLER ROGOWAYView Tyler Rogoway's Articles
Aviation_Intel
The steady flow of intriguing new images of China's stealthy heavy fighter-interceptor, the J-20, continues over seven years after the jet first appeared. The aircraft is already in operational service with the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and it continues to evolve and spread its wings, participating in increasingly high-profile joint-exercises and deployments near hotspots along China's borders. Three new shots help us better understand the build quality of this game-changing machine as well as handicap some aspects of its true capabilities. But above all else, like I have stressed since its first appearance, the photos are a reminder that China's ability to make great leaps in aerospace materials and manufacturing sciences should not be underestimated.

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The latest images, which recently emerged on Chinese internet, show a J-20 without its gray paint and in its primer coating flying out of Chengdu Aircraft Company's plant and test airfield. We have seen the J-20 in its yellow undercoatings before, but these images are very detailed in comparison to the vast majority of the shots that have surfaced in the past. Note that the dragon symbols on the nose and tail were added in post-processing and were not actually painted on the aircraft.

CHINESE INTERNET
The images show the areas where antennas are embedded below the J-20's skin, as well as where other stealthy composite structures are used to minimize the aircraft's radar cross-section. The J-20's large Diverterless Supersonic Inlet (DSI) is shown in great detail as well, including various porous panels that also help separate turbulent boundary layer air from its skin—a process required to feed its engines with stable airflow throughout its flight envelope.
The jet's giant maneuvering canard foreplanes are also displayed in grand fashion. These control surfaces help to give the big jet its agility, although they are unlikely to move much when the aircraft is in combat cruise configuration where minimizing its frontal radar signature is critical to its survival. They also work as big air brakes during rollout after touching down.
A Luneburg lens is also seen attached below the jet to provide an ample radar return. Like American stealth fighters, these bolt-on devices are used to help air traffic controllers see the aircraft during transient flights and for some training operations. In some cases, they also work mask the true nature of the aircraft's radar signature.

On the J-20s nose, apertures for a missile approach warning system and what could eventually be a distributed aperture electro-optical system are seen, as are formation light strips embedded seamlessly into the jet's skin. A single pitot tube in the exact same place as the one found on the F-22 is also visible.
Maybe the most interesting of all is the under-nose optical sensor system. In the past, China has been quite sensitive about showing off this chin-mounted sensor enclosure, with it being blurred out in official J-20 images and videos. For a long time, the enclosure didn't really even exist, with an aerodynamic fairing acting as a placeholder. Then it seemed as if a fairly simple looking golden-mirrored enclosure with a far wider field of view than the one we see in these latest pictures appeared for a while. But this was likely just another placeholder—one with the added benefit of confusing foreign intelligence agencies.
Now, after years of avionics development, which has included the use of a specialized flying avionics laboratory, a real chin-mounted electro-optical capability looks to have become operational on China's growing J-20 force, and the PLAAF is more willing to show it off in pictures. Remember, very little actually leaks out of China in regards to sensitive weapon systems without the government allowing it. In other words, they let us see what they want us to see.
Many have posited that this enclosure is intended to house an analog to the F-35's Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS). But based on these images, it seems to have a far more limited purpose.

USAF
The F-35's EOTS enclosure offers a far wider field of view than the one seen on the J-20. This is necessary because it replaces the turreted targeting pods found on most western fighters that are used primarily to engage ground objects. With this in mind, the J-20's optical sensor is likely air-to-air centric, with limited to no ground attack capability at this time.
Instead of acting as a multi-role optical ground surveillance sensor and laser designator for dynamically targeting objects on terra firma—as is the case with EOTS on the F-35—this sensor's enclosure appears to offer a far more limited field of view oriented towards the forward hemisphere of the aircraft. This points to it being used primarily as an air-to-air targeting and situational awareness sensor system. It's worth noting that the F-35's EOTS has integrated air-to-air functions as well, but air-to-ground remains its predominant use.


The J-20 was supposedly designed with a faceted, turret-mounted infrared-search and track (IRST) system—a critical sensor found on all Russian-built fighters that will allow the J-20 to better survive in a high-threat air combat environment even against America's advanced stealth fighters (read all about IRSTs in this past feature of mine). Known as EORD-31, the J-20's IRST lifts upwards out of its nose in front of the windscreen when in use.
The large, diamond-like aperture for this system is clearly seen in photos of the jet, but its development could be delayed. In its place, Chengdu Aircraft Corporation engineers could have mounted a fixed IRST sensor in the stealthy ventral enclosure below the aircraft's nose. This would allow for the J-20 to maintain a constant radar signature while using its IRST.
Alternatively, and more likely, the sensor inside the under-nose enclosure could be the other planned primary optical sensor for the J-20 that would work with the aircraft's IRST, radar, end electronic support measures, and other combat systems. Dubbed the EOTS-86, this sensor surely operates at shorter wavelengths than an IRST and allows for long-range visual identification of potential threats.
Used in conjunction with the IRST, it would allow the J-20 to silently detect and engage targets at beyond visual ranges—with the IRST detecting and the EOTS-86 identifying targets—even while operating under the most restrictive rules of engagement and without emitting any electromagnetic energy that can be detected by opposing forces. Even without the help of the IRST, the EOTS-86 would be able to be slaved to the J-20's radar and could provide visual tracking and identification of targets in a way in which its radar cannot.
America's F-15C/Ds are employing Sniper targeting pods in a very similar fashion and are slated to receive an advanced long wave-length IRST sensor as well. The Super Hornet will also feature a similar mix of capabilities and the F-35's EOTS does long-range airborne visual identification as a secondary function, but the jet lacks a traditional IRST entirely.
But once again, this sensor cannot be used to the extent of the F-35's EOTS. It would be used for target identification and possibly targeting from the frontal hemisphere only, not from steep angles below or even behind the aircraft as traditional targeting pods are capable of. It probably doesn't have a laser designator either. But just as a situational awareness tool alone, and a passive one at that, it represents a potent capability even the F-22 doesn't possess.
It's also possible that a true multi-role sensor similar to the F-35's EOTS and its wide-field of view faceted sapphire glass enclosure will find its way on the J-20 sometime in the future as its mission set expands and as China's sensor know-how improves. But that simply doesn't exist at this time.

CHINESE INTERNET
In these photos, we also get to see the fine details of the construction of the J-20's outer airframe, and they look very similar to those found on the F-22, and in some cases, on F-35, although the aircraft doesn't feature the continuous curvature structures of the latter aircraft and is far more akin generally the F-22 in this regard. Still, the construction quality appears to be quite impressive, with the near seamless joining of structures, sawtoothed access hatches and operating doors, edge-aligned apertures, and overall smooth surfaces.
None of this comes as that much of a surprise as China has become a master at cyber espionage and the theft of classified intellectual property from America's most capable defense contractors. In particular, these operations have targeted stealth aircraft programs, with vast amounts of data being stolen over the last decade or so. Still, as I have said for many years, the J-20's overall shape and configuration has far more in common with defunct Russian fighter programsthan American ones.
The PLAAF's ascent from a third-rate air arm to the USAF's most threatening peer state competitor has been dizzying. And keep in mind, the J-20's design is now nearly a decade old. China is working very hard at moving into the broadband low-observable combat aircraft arena in the form of unmanned combat air vehicles and possibly a new stealth bomber that could emerge from the shadows at any time. China's medium-weight J-31/FC-31 stealth fighter is also showing signs of drastic maturation and is now in its second iteration of a flying prototype.

The J-20 remains a highly interesting machine that will continue to improve in the coming decade. Powerplants have been a continuing issue for type, but China is making strides when it comes to indigenous engine manufacturing capabilities as well. But even without extreme kinematic performance, the J-20 appears to be a potent and stealthy sensor and weapons platform that could prove to be very challenging to deal with, especially when combined with creative cooperative platform tactics.
Yet what's most impressive is that China has leapfrogged Russia when it comes to advanced fighter aircraft design in most respects. And by many indications, that disparity will continue to widen with each passing day as the J-20 fleet grows and evolves while Russia's Su-57 program stagnates towards irrelevance.
Contact the author: [email protected]
 
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AbRaj

Senior member
Dec 6, 2017
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So as per the chief designer of J20(and its predecessor J9 VI) himself, it was designed as a “Multirole Strike Fighter with increased Stealth signature”. Explains why it’s flies like a Boing 777.

Here is the J9 in wind tunnel testing
1641420766468.png

So it’s more likely that unlike those unsubstantiated claims of J20 design being ultra futuristic, it actually is very old and designed without advanced computing tools.
@randomradio

PS: Here is it’s SE production version
1641421072734.png
 
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AbRaj

Senior member
Dec 6, 2017
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Republic of Wadiya
One important design criterion for the J-20 describes high instability. This requires sustained pitch authority at a high angle-of-attack, in which a conventional tailplane would lose effectiveness due to stalling. On the other hand, a canard can deflect opposite to the angle-of attack, avoiding stall and thereby maintaining control. A canard design is also known to provide good supersonic performance, excellent supersonic and transonic turn performance, and improved short-field landing performance compared to the conventional delta wing design.
Leading edge extensions and body lift are incorporated to enhance performance in a canard layout. This combination is said by the designer to generate 1.2 times the lift of an ordinary canard delta, and 1.8 times more lift than an equivalent sized pure delta configuration. The designer claims such a combination allows the use of a smaller wing, reducing supersonic drag without compromising transonic lift-to-drag characteristics that are crucial to the aircraft’s turn performance. The Chengdu J 20 is only available option for China to match the capabilities of American F 22 raptor but an underpowered engine makes it inferior. Still it was quoted by Jamestown Foundation that J 20 could have been superior to F 22 if it would have had been powered by appropriate engines.