J-20 goes operational again

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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weasel1962

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Unread post04 Sep 2019, 02:09

An arrow formation of 7 x J-20s in the air has gotten internet into a tizzy...released as an official vid on social media.
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Corsair1963

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Unread post04 Sep 2019, 07:20

sferrin wrote:I doubt we've seen the last of the J-31. And given they're already on their 3rd aircraft carrier (with the next likely to be at least Forrestal-sized) I don't know why they're so worried about the length of the J-20. It's much shorter than the A-3D and A-5. A bit longer than a Tomcat.



We've seen nothing official or even remotely so. That supports the J-20 is being developed for Naval use in place of the J-31. Nor, have we heard anything that suggests. That the latter is in trouble or in danger of being canceled....



Just the usual rumor and speculation..... :?
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sferrin

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Unread post04 Sep 2019, 14:02

weasel1962 wrote:An arrow formation of 7 x J-20s in the air has gotten internet into a tizzy...released as an official vid on social media.


I'm not sure I see the big deal. Did somebody think they had LESS than 7 J-20s?
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Corsair1963

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Unread post05 Sep 2019, 03:21

sferrin wrote:
weasel1962 wrote:An arrow formation of 7 x J-20s in the air has gotten internet into a tizzy...released as an official vid on social media.


I'm not sure I see the big deal. Did somebody think they had LESS than 7 J-20s?



Point is more and more J-20's are entering service and the type is progressing well.... :|
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Unread post05 Sep 2019, 14:06

Corsair1963 wrote:
sferrin wrote:
weasel1962 wrote:An arrow formation of 7 x J-20s in the air has gotten internet into a tizzy...released as an official vid on social media.


I'm not sure I see the big deal. Did somebody think they had LESS than 7 J-20s?



Point is more and more J-20's are entering service and the type is progressing well.... :|


Is it really though? Or are you just making assumptions???

On the one hand, it may be progressing well. OTOH it may be experiencing big problems with its interim engine, be down for maintenance most of the time or in general, continuing to experience teething problems. I would be surprised if everything was going just swimmingly. As the US found out, fielding these 5th gen fighters isn't easy. There's nothing to suggest the Chinese made some incredible breakthrough, allowing them to stamp out factor fresh J-20's without any bugs.

It's gone operational... twice. If things were going so well, why not just go operational once? And where are the large numbers of J-20's seen over the SCS? I'd say its development and fielding probably reflects our experience: Some rather large problems still need to be worked out.

It's probably a good 5 to 10 years away from being a fully matured weapons system...
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Unread post13 Sep 2019, 13:50

FYI, I wouldn’t take anything from scmp seriously. I think they are just concentrating on getting j20 fully operational right now and that could take a while. But I would be shocked if j31 doesn’t get more funding once j20 is a little more mature and shenyang’s other projects wrap. Give another 2 or 3 years.
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Unread post15 Sep 2019, 17:53

wrightwing wrote:
Corsair1963 wrote:
wrightwing wrote:Hmmm. There's no guarantee that they will build a larger quantity of J-20s than 187. It's not an inexpensive aircraft, and their defense budget is considerably smaller than ours. They might build the J-31 in a higher quantity, though.



While, I don't see China building the J-20 is vast numbers. I personally wouldn't be surprised if they produced more than 200-300. That said, it's clear the J-31 will become the backbone of the PLAAF and PLAN. Which, would perform similar roles as the US F-35....(i.e. Multi-Role Strike Fighter)


I don't see them building more than 500 J-20/31 In total. They're not trying to match us globally. The J-10/11/16 will be the backbone of their fleet for decades, with J-20/31 being the high mix.


You have to remember the Chinese are playing catch-up. They could very well have ramped up J-10/J-11 production in a skeet strategy, if you note the RAND estimate about PLAAF kamikaze shooting down F-22s by shooting down their tankers while taking atrocious casualties.

The Chinese aren't different from the US when it comes to airpower; the Russians saw their combat aircraft as air defense and close air support, but never seeking air superiority. The Chinese, given their strategic environment (airpower can intervene both on land and sea), want to take air superiority and they need superior aircraft and pilots to do so.

If their goal is to get superior aircraft, they need to go through a complicated catch-up process to match or surpass their rivals, then go through a tech race to be the first to make the generational breach and keep their lead. Chinese nationalists think the J-20 is it. More sober-minded people see it as part of a developmental process; the Chinese have no equivalents to MSDM, SACM, AIM-120, the F-35's dazzler system, or the B-21. The J-20 might be an interesting aircraft, but it's more interesting as the basis of a 5.5th or 6th generation fighter, given how slow its development is.
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Unread post16 Sep 2019, 00:13

You can't win on Land or at Sea. If, you can't provide "Air Superiority". In addition the US and her Allies will acquire Stealth Fighters in very large numbers.



So, this idea that China will only acquire the J-20 and/or J-31 in small or even modest numbers. Is nothing short of absurd....


Honestly, why has China spent massively to develop and build a first class Military. Only to leave it totally vulnerable to destruction by enemy airpower!

:doh:
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Unread post16 Sep 2019, 02:00

The Soviets held Moscow despite the Nazis obtaining air superiority.

Another thing to notice is that the Chinese cut military spending when the then-hostile Soviets were at their strongest; i.e, they'll rely on non-military offsets if needed to deal with their defense situation.

You have to remember, the Chinese have had to put up with having no credible defense against American stealth aircraft since the F-22 hit IOC, and the numbers of their 4th generation aircraft are those needed to deter regional opponents, not face up against the Hyperpower.

Even if you look at naval assets, the military expansion still seems more developmentally-oriented than intended to face the United States symmetrically. The number of operational Type 055s, a rough Arleigh Burke analogue despite its greater mass, is only 1. They may have more in production, but that's far below the 82 Arleigh Burkes floating around.

What's more impressive about the Type 055 is qualitative; i.e, they claim to have gotten GaN AESA radar running on the Type 055s, and the Type 055 radars seem to have a greater aperture than the latest Arleigh Burkes. Later iterations of the Type 055 are supposed to have IEP; i.e, the Chinese are more focused on increasing quality and bridging tech gaps than pumping out competitively large numbers of inferior equipment.
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Unread post16 Sep 2019, 02:57

inst wrote:The Soviets held Moscow despite the Nazis obtaining air superiority.

Another thing to notice is that the Chinese cut military spending when the then-hostile Soviets were at their strongest; i.e, they'll rely on non-military offsets if needed to deal with their defense situation.

You have to remember, the Chinese have had to put up with having no credible defense against American stealth aircraft since the F-22 hit IOC, and the numbers of their 4th generation aircraft are those needed to deter regional opponents, not face up against the Hyperpower.

Even if you look at naval assets, the military expansion still seems more developmentally-oriented than intended to face the United States symmetrically. The number of operational Type 055s, a rough Arleigh Burke analogue despite its greater mass, is only 1. They may have more in production, but that's far below the 82 Arleigh Burkes floating around.

What's more impressive about the Type 055 is qualitative; i.e, they claim to have gotten GaN AESA radar running on the Type 055s, and the Type 055 radars seem to have a greater aperture than the latest Arleigh Burkes. Later iterations of the Type 055 are supposed to have IEP; i.e, the Chinese are more focused on increasing quality and bridging tech gaps than pumping out competitively large numbers of inferior equipment.



The Russians held off Germany because they moved their forces deeper into the Soviet Union. Which, took them out of range! As for Nazi Germany they lost WWII because they lost "Air Superiority". My point....


Nor, do I see a case. That China is spending "Trillions" to develop Weapon Systems that are merely "transitional"... :doh:
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Unread post16 Sep 2019, 03:36

The highest estimates for yearly Chinese defense spending is around 250 bn a year, and there are myriad systems (carriers, subs, etc) that eat up lots of money. These are often deployed, because the soldiers must have something and experience with a given weapons systems informs its users of its flaws and room for improvement.

If you look at the rapidity of Chinese military technology improvement, it makes sense; the gap was around 30 years in 1989 to the United States, now the gap is closer to 5-10 years in many major systems. There is already a sixth generation successor to the J-20 on the drawing board, and if we all acknowledge that the J-20 isn't exactly the Chinese breakthrough weapon, why should they invest the hundreds of billions needed to attempt to reach regional parity with a fighter with significant stealth penalties when they can focus on the successor system instead?

I strictly don't think that the Chinese wouldn't decide to crank out 400-600 J-20s, but the big question remains its capability. If the Chinese expect the J-20 to be little more than glorified skeet, why spend so much money on it? For the 400-600 numbers to be adequate, the J-20 needs to be decisively superior to the F-35 when there's likely going to be around 1200 F-35 in the region. And then you have stuff like the B-21 portending a potential paradigm shift that might render fighters a lot less important in the air.
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Unread post16 Sep 2019, 04:06

inst wrote:The highest estimates for yearly Chinese defense spending is around 250 bn a year, and there are myriad systems (carriers, subs, etc) that eat up lots of money. These are often deployed, because the soldiers must have something and experience with a given weapons systems informs its users of its flaws and room for improvement.


Such estimates are highly inaccurate. As you think China is really telling the world on what it spends on it's Military? :doh:

If you look at the rapidity of Chinese military technology improvement, it makes sense; the gap was around 30 years in 1989 to the United States, now the gap is closer to 5-10 years in many major systems. There is already a sixth generation successor to the J-20 on the drawing board, and if we all acknowledge that the J-20 isn't exactly the Chinese breakthrough weapon, why should they invest the hundreds of billions needed to attempt to reach regional parity with a fighter with significant stealth penalties when they can focus on the successor system instead?


The successor to the J-20 is 20-30 years off. Just like the successor to the F-22. The progression you talk about applies to any militaries. Hardly, anything specific to China. Honestly, your logic is flawed...as weapons systems are always in transition. :roll:

I strictly don't think that the Chinese wouldn't decide to crank out 400-600 J-20s, but the big question remains its capability. If the Chinese expect the J-20 to be little more than glorified skeet, why spend so much money on it? For the 400-600 numbers to be adequate, the J-20 needs to be decisively superior to the F-35 when there's likely going to be around 1200 F-35 in the region. And then you have stuff like the B-21 portending a potential paradigm shift that might render fighters a lot less important in the air.


I never stated the J-20 and/or J-31 would match the F-35 in numbers. Nor, would it equal it in performance. I merely stated it would have to produce them in adequate numbers to put up a credible defense.

Remember, the US is not China's only opponent....
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Unread post16 Sep 2019, 12:16

The estimates for Chinese military spending are based off Western doubters who expect the Chinese to have off-the-books spending. The official Chinese defense spending as a percent of GDP is about 1.3%. Western analysts believe they're closer to 2%. The US, by comparison, spends 3% of its GDP on military spending, and still has about a 50% larger economy by nominal GDP.

The point being made about developmental orientation is that the Chinese will likely surge when their technology is right. Their technology is not right, so you're not seeing, say, thousands of ZTZ-99s, Type 055s being built like Arleigh Burkes, or 100 operational J-20s.

As for the Chinese 6th gen, their target date is around 2035, with PCA being targeted around 2030 as a contrast.

Regarding regional rivals, Russia is currently aligned with China, and its own Su-57 project has been much delayed. India has no 5th generation aircraft, Vietnam is a rump and apparently has been semi-subservient to China ever since the fall of the Soviet Union ended the Sino-Vietnamese border skirmishes, and Japan has F-35, meaning that dominating Japan militarily is the same problem as offsetting the United States.

The thing I keep pointing out is that the J-20 needs to be able to dominate the F-35 just as much as a MiG-31 should dominate a F-16 BVR or a F-15 should dominate a MiG-29 BVR. It's an expensive heavyweight fighter with all the bells and whistles; the J-20 has EODAS, but the J-31 only has EOTS, for instance. If you compare the J-20 to the F-35, it has stealth disadvantages, radar advantages (and potentially other sensor advantages, although the EOTS housing is disappointing), and high-speed performance advantages (Chinese pilots have leaked that the J-20 has only "good" subsonic maneuverability, but exceptional supersonic maneuverability). The combination of these factors COULD allow it to get 2:1 K/L vs F-35, but only if the platform was properly developed, and the rate of development is too slow.

For instance, the J-20 is already extremely close to a Boeing Sixth-Gen or X-36 aerodynamic formula, which would further reduce drag and increase stealth. Unfortunately, the Chinese can't experiment with this because their WS-15 engines are interminably delayed (last rumor last year was that it wasn't going to see flight testing before 2021, curiously in line with the Pentagon's estimates) and they can't set up the J-20 as a high-powered TVC fighter before ditching tailfins, although the TVC version of the WS-10 is going to allow them to develop TVC FCS early.

===

My original projection, ironically, was also for about 600 J-20s in the air. But that was not expecting the rapid subsystems innovations the USAF produced, nor the slow rate of J-20 development. For instance, if China had gotten J-20s combat deployed in the 2016-2017 time period, they would have been categorically superior to the JASDF based on the fact that the JASDF lacked 5th gens. Instead, they never hit combat deployments until this year. Likewise, MSDM, SACM, AIM-260, the missile gap means that the J-20 can't really compete. The closest the Chinese have is the PL-15, and that missile is huge, limiting the J-20 to 4 PL-15s instead of 6 AIM-260 class missiles as the F-35 and F-22 will be able to run.

That makes J-20 spam untenable. You're looking at this from an American perspective, where it's beneficial for the Chinese to waste money on skeet targets that can't fulfill their primary function. From a Chinese perspective, they've more hidden behind their nukes and treasury bonds while focusing on economic and technological development than trying to meet the US force on force in a fight they can't win.

I don't see 600 J-20s as impossible, but the trick is that the J-20s aren't going to be the present J-20 or J-20A versions. They'd need to get the WS-15 TVCs up at the very least, and a J-20C with modified aerodynamics and stealth is going to be needed before they can confidently mass produce them. The earliest this might be viable to do so would be in 2025, and it'd take to 2030 before they could get a full complement at about 100 a year.

By that time, PCA will likely be ready. The B-21 will be able to function as stealth AWACs with possible EO or photonic radar, defeating most stealth, and with possible drone fighters escorting it. The Chinese are talking about modifying their potential H-20 to fit the B-21 role, but it's not purebred for that, given that the program was started more for regional or intercontinental attack utilizing long-range cruise missiles.

The operant feature, incidentally, is speed. If we were talking about this in 2017, it would have made sense for the Chinese to attempt to surge and try to defeat the F-35s in sufficient numbers. But now it's 2019 and American innovations mean that once again there's an unbreakable tech gap that can't be defeated simply by numbers. The rate is innovation, to an extent, is astounding; the US missile upgrades and B-21 are a far cry from the interminably delayed F-22 and F-35 programs. It probably has to do with the fact that the US has not focused on its military programs since the end of the Cold War, as well as the superior American R&D complexes.

===

One thing I do want to point out is that it's possible that the J-31s will end up getting replaced by the Su-57s instead. Trick is, the Su-57s are now incredibly cheap; the Russians claim to have gotten the cost down to 35 million, helped in part by the decline of the ruble. It's a full-featured heavyweight stealth fighter that sacrifices stealth for maneuverability and cost, and it's likely a better "lo" complement to the J-20 than the J-31. More importantly, the Chinese can keep Russian aerospace in play when the Russians have a far better R&D complex; the Chinese may have the money, but their products are rather cash-inefficient and it's going to take time for the Chinese to develop their R&D complex.
Last edited by inst on 16 Sep 2019, 13:07, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post16 Sep 2019, 13:04

Capability is a function of exposure. The U.S. is much more widely dispersed, therefore needs much more overall force quantity. The U.S. has to contend with China being able to concentrate more power in any one places while within its own sphere of influence, which explains the discrepancy between inventories.
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sferrin

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Unread post16 Sep 2019, 13:17

inst wrote:One thing I do want to point out is that it's possible that the J-31s will end up getting replaced by the Su-57s instead. Trick is, the Su-57s are now incredibly cheap; the Russians claim to have gotten the cost down to 35 million,


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