A deal for the People’s Liberation Army to acquire 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia could be completed this week, China’s Global Times reports.
Discussions on the acquisition have been ongoing for some time and it remains unclear whether there are still points on which the two sides disagree on. It appears likely, however, that an outcome will be revealed at the MAKS-2015 international aerospace show to be held Aug. 25-30 at Zhukovsky, 40 kilometers southeast of Moscow.
According to Ivan Goncharenko, the first deputy director general of Russia’s arms exporter Rosoboronexport, the contract is currently at an approval stage. “We are holding talks with our Chinese partners on agreeing a draft contract for the supply of fighter jets,” Goncharenko said Monday.
The Su-35, a twin-engine, supermaneuverable multirole fighter, has been marketed by Russia to numerous countries include Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Korea, though it appears China is set to be come the first country to import the aircraft.
The Russian Air Force ordered 48 production units of Su-35S jets — a revamped version of the Su-35 — in August 2009. Delivery of the aircraft commenced in 2011 and the last 12 remaining jets will all be delivered by the end of the year at a pace of two jets per month.
There are now reports that the Russian defense ministry could sign a new agreement to purchase another 40 Su-35S jets and that the deal could be signed at MAKS-2015 this week.
The Su-35 previously appeared at the Zhuhai Airshow in southern China’s Guangdong province in 2014, both as an exhibit and giving a flight demonstration. Chinese vice president Li Yuanchao was reportedly impressed with the fighter’s mobility, modern avionics and engine
The Shenyang J-15 , also known as Flying Shark , is a carrier-based fighter jet development by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation and the 601 Institute for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s aircraft carriers. Rumors initially claimed the aircraft was to be a semi-stealth variant, yet later reports indicate the aircraft is based on the Soviet-designed Sukhoi Su-33 and is fitted with domestically produced radars, engines, and weapons. An unfinished Su-33 prototype, the T-10K-3, was acquired from Ukraine in 2001 and is said to have been studied extensively, with development on the J-15 beginning immediately afterward. While the J-15 appears to be structurally based on the Su-33, the indigenous fighter features Chinese technologies as well as avionics from the J-11B program
Design and development
Russian military experts have downplayed any significant competition from the J-15 in the global arms market, with Col. Igor Korotchenko of the Defense Ministry stating in early June 2010, “The Chinese J-15 is unlikely to achieve the same performance characteristics of the Russian Su-33 carrier-based fighter, and I do not rule out the possibility that China could return to negotiations with Russia on the purchase of a substantial batch of Su-33s.”
China has actively sought to purchase Su-33s from Russia on numerous occasions—an unsuccessful offer was made as late as March 2009—but negotiations collapsed in 2006 after it was discovered that China had developed a modified version of the Sukhoi Su-27SK designated the Shenyang J-11B, in violation of intellectual property agreements.
The first J-15 prototype is believed to have performed its maiden flight on August 31, 2009, powered by Russian-supplied AL-31 turbofan engines. Video and still images of the flight were released in July 2010, showing the same basic air frame design as the Su-33. In July 2011, it was reported FWS-10H turbofan engine was chosen for J-15 fighter, which has takeoff thrust increased to 12,800 kg, compared to the FWS-10 turbofan’s 12,500 kg. Other improvements were also made to make it better suited to carrier-based fighter’s requirement. On May 6, 2010, the aircraft conducted its first takeoff from a simulated ski-jump.
The reliance on ski-jump launches and the lack of Chinese carrier based refueling capabilities are believed to greatly reduce the effective range of the J-15.
The J-15 is reported to use different avionics and systems than the Su-33, and uses Chinese-developed technologies, and features various upgrades such as AESA radar, composite and radar absorbent material, MAWS, improved IRST, and new electronics. An article in the China Signpost believes the J-15 “likely exceeds or matches the aerodynamic capabilities of virtually all fighter aircraft currently operated by regional militaries, with the exception of the U.S. F-22 Raptor”, alleging that the J-15 likely possesses a 10% superior thrust-to-weight ratio and a 25% lower wing loading than the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. However, one of the authors of that same article described the J-15 in another as no game changer; Hu Siyuan of the National Defense University PLA China has said that “the current weak point of the J-15 is its Russia-made Al-31 engines which are less powerful than that of the American F-35 fighter”.
A twin seat variant made its maiden flight on November 4, 2012. The general designer of J-15 is Mr. Sun Cong.
The J-15’s chief designer, Sun Cong of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, has said that the J-15 could match the F/A-18 in bomb load, combat radius and mobility. However, in a similar statement, he said more work was required in its electronics and combat systems. He also indicated the lack of mature domestically produced engines as a current weak spot.
Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo stated that the aircraft’s air combat capabilities were better than that of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. However, he also stated that its ability to attack land and sea targets was slightly inferior to the F/A-18E/F. It is also stated that its electronic equipment meets the standards of those on a fifth generation fighter.
On 25 November 2012, Chinese media announced that two J-15s had made successful arrested landings on the aircraft carrier Liaoning. The first pilot to land on the Liaoning was named as Dai Mingmeng. PLA Daily newspaper indicated the first five naval pilots including Dai conducted J-15 fighter landing and taking off. Test and training program officials confirmed the carrier-borne aircraft and special equipment for the landing flight had gone through strict tests, and fighter jets can be deployed on the carrier.
5In December 2013 Chinese media reported that mass production of J-15s in full operational condition with combat markings had begun.
- Crew: 1-2
- Length: 21.9 m (72 ft)
- Wingspan: 14.7 m (48.25 ft)
- Height: 5.9 m (19.5 ft)
- Wing area: 62.04 m2 (667.80 ft2)
- Empty weight: 17500 kg (38600 lb)
- Loaded weight: 27000 kg (60000 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 33000 kg (72752 lb)
- Power plant – engines: 2 × WS-10A afterburning turbofans
- Dry thrust: 89.17 kN (20,050 lbf) each
- Thrust with afterburner: 135 kN (33,000 lbf) each
- Wingspan, wings folded: 7.4 m (24.25 ft)
- Maximum speed: Mach 2.4
- Range: 3500 km (2050 mi)
- Service ceiling: 20000 m (65700 ft)
- Rate of climb: 325 m/s (64000 ft/min)
- 1 × 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon with 150 rounds
- Munitions on twelve external hardpoints, including:
- 8 × PL-12 or R-77, and 4 × PL-9 or R-73 air-to-air missiles
- Various bombs and rockets
- Anti ship and anti radiation missiles.
- Electronic countermeasure (ECM) pods
The Chengdu J-20 is a Stealth, twin-engine fifth-generation fighter aircraft prototype being developed by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force(PLAAF). The J-20 made its first flight on 11 January 2011, and is expected to be operational in 2017–2019. China’s J-20 platform has the potential to be a capable, long-range strike system in the Asia-Pacific region, but a number of technical challenges will need to be overcome before production can begin.
Origins of the J-20 came from the J-XX program which was started in the late 1990s. A proposal from Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, designated “Project 718”, had won the PLAAF endorsement following a 2008 competition against a Shenyang proposal that was reportedly even larger than the J-20. On 22 December 2010, the first J-20 prototype underwent high speed taxiing tests outside the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute.
On 11 January 2011, the J-20 made its first flight, lasting about 15 minutes, with a Chengdu J-10S serving as the chase aircraft. After the successful flight, a ceremony was held, attended by the pilot, Li Gang, Chief Designer Yang Wei and General Li Andong (Deputy-Director of General Armaments).
On 17 April 2011, a second test flight of an hour and 20 minutes took place.On 5 May 2011, a 55-minute test flight was held that included retraction of the landing gear.
On 26 February 2012, a J-20 performed various low-altitude maneuvers. On 10 May 2012, a second prototype underwent high speed taxiing tests, and flight testing that began later that month. On 20 October 2012, photographs of a new prototype emerged, featuring a different radome, which was speculated to house an AESA radar.
On March 2013, images of the side weapon bays appeared, including a missile launch rail.
On 16 January 2014, a J-20 prototype was revealed, showing a new intake and stealth coating, as well as redesigned vertical stabilizers, and a system that appeared to be an Electro-Optical Targeting System. This particular aircraft numbered ‘2011’ performed its maiden flight on 1 March 2014 and is said to represent the initial pre-serial standard. Overall the year 2014 was quite a successful one and until the end of 2014 three more pre-serial prototypes were flown: number ‘2012’ on 26 July 2014, number ‘2013’ on 29 November 2014 and finally number ‘2015’ on 19 December 2014.
The J-20 has a long and wide fuselage, with the chiseled nose section and a frame-less canopy resembling that of the F-22 Raptor. Immediately behind the cockpit are low observable intakes. All-moving canard surfaces with pronounced Dihedral (aeronautics) are placed behind the intake ramps, followed by leading edge extensions merging into delta wing with forward-swept trailing edges. The aft section features twin, outward canted all-moving fins, short but deep ventral strakes, and conventional round engine nozzles. In one paper published on a Chinese aerodynamic journal, a designer of J-20 described high instability as an important design criterion for J-20. A canard is used to achieve sustained pitch authority at high angle of attack, as traditional tail-plane would start to lose effectiveness. This is because tail-plane would go into even higher angle-of-attack and stall, whereas canard can avoid this effect by deflecting to the same magnitude but opposite to the angle-of-attack.A canard configuration can also provide good supersonic performance, excellent supersonic and transonic turn performance, and improved short-field landing performance compared to the conventional design.
The same journal paper also explained how leading edge extensions and body lift are incorporated to enhance performance in a canard layout through interactions amongvortices. One graph shows the configuration to generate 1.2 times the lift of an ordinary canard delta, and 1.8 times more lift than a pure delta configuration of similar size. This allows the use of a smaller wing, reducing supersonic aerodynamic drag without compromising transonic lift-to-drag ratio characteristics that are crucial to the aircraft’s turn performance.
The production version of the J-20’s is speculated to be WS-15 a turbofan engine currently under development in the same class as American F-119. According to Global Security, the engine core, composed of high pressure compressors, the combustion chamber, and high pressure turbines were successfully tested in 2005. An image of the core appeared in the 2006 Zhuhai Air Show. Since 2012, China has reported numerous breakthroughs in development military turbofans and invested up to 20 billion US dollars in turbofan engine research and development. The J-20 has the potential to rival the F-22A Raptor in performance once appropriate engines become available.
Western analyst believe that the current prototypes are powered by WS-10 or the AL-31F engine. China is a large importer of Russian-made jet engines, prompting rumors that China seeks to obtain AL-41 117S engines for the initial production of J-20 through Su-35 purchases. However, these rumors have since been denied by China, and were proven as false. It was also reported that Russia approached China in an unsuccessful bid to sell 117S engines during the 2012 Zhuhai Air Show.
The aircraft features a glass cockpit, with two main large color liquid crystal displays (LCD) situated side-by-side, three smaller auxiliary displays, and a wide-angle holographic head-up display (HUD).
A PLAAF Tupolev Tu-204 test bed aircraft was seen featuring a J-20 nose cone. It is believed to house the Type 1475 (KLJ-5) active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar with 1856 transmit/receive modules.
Prototype “2011” featured a revised nose section with elements resembling a IRST/EOTS system used to hunt low observable aircraft, and a metal finish that loosely reminds the radar absorbing Haze Paint first used on F-16s, and reportedly included sensor fusion technology.
The main weapon bay is capable of housing both short and long-range air-to-air missiles (AAM) (PL-9, PL-12C/D & PL-21).
Two smaller lateral weapon bays behind the air inlets are intended for short-range AAMs (PL-9). These bays allow closure of the bay doors prior to firing the missile, thus enhancing stealth.
No gun has yet been seen on any J-20 model and there have not been signs of provisions for one.
Analysts noted that J-20’s nose and canopy use similar stealth shaping design as the F-22, yielding similar signature performance in a mature design at the front, while the aircraft’s side and axi-symmetric engine nozzles may expose the aircraft to radar. One prototype has been powered by WS-10G engines equipped with a different jagged-edge nozzles and tiles for greater stealth.
Others have raised doubts about the use of canards on a low-observable design, stating that canards would guarantee radar detection and a compromise of stealth.However, canards and low-observability are not mutually exclusive designs. Northrop Grumman’s proposal for the U.S Navy’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) incorporated canards on a stealthy air frame. Lockheed Martin employed canards on a stealth airframe for the Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) program during early development before dropping them due to complications with aircraft carrier recovery. McDonnell Douglas and NASA’s X-36 featured canards and was considered to be extremely stealthy. Radar cross-section can be further reduced by controlling canard deflection through flight control software, as is done on the Eurofighter.
The diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) enables an aircraft to reach Mach 2.0 with a simpler intake than traditionally required, and improves stealth performance by eliminating radar reflections between the diverter and the aircraft’s skin. Analysts have noted that the J-20 DSI reduces the need for application of radar absorbent materials.Additionally, the “bump” surface reduces the engine’s exposure to radar, significantly reducing a strong source of radar reflection.
Data from Aviation Week & Space Technology
- Crew: one (pilot)
- Length: 20 m (66.8 ft)
- Wingspan: 13 m (44.2 ft)
- Height: 4.45 m (14 ft 7 in)
- Wing area: 78 m2 (840 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 19,391 kg (42,750 lb)
- Gross weight: 32,092 kg (70,750 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 36,288 kg (80,001 lb) upper estimate
- Fuel capacity: 25000 lb
- Powerplant: 2 × Saturn AL-31F (prototype) or Xian WS-15 (production) afterburning turbofans, 76.18 kN (17,125 lbf) thrust each dry, 122.3 or 179.9 kN (27,500 or 40,450 lbf) with afterburner
- Wing loading: 340 kg/m2 (69 lb/sq ft)
- Thrust/weight: 0.94 (prototype with interim engines)
- PL-10 SRAAM
- PL-12 Medium Range AAM