FC-31 stealth fighter thread.

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Corsair1963

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Unread post05 Apr 2021, 01:54

inst wrote:
The Chinese plan is to at least IOC a 6th generation fighter by 2030. The problem with the J-20 program was basically that it launched too slowly; it took 9 years to get into mass production and it's still running interim engines. A J-35, likewise, is going to be somewhat more competent than a J-15 vs a NGAD or F/A-XX, but it'd still be outclassed significantly, so what's the point?

While engine technology is basically a black art, airframes are much easier to manage. The Chinese have metamaterial stealth in development that looks as though it'd be comparable to that of the F-35; i.e, -40 or -50 dBsm stealth on 5th generation fighters.



China is behind the US with 5th Generation Stealth Fighters. So, I don't see any future 6th Generation Fighter reaching IOC before 2040 at the earliest.....(just like Europe)
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Unread post05 Apr 2021, 12:49

Moving fast means letting the competition fall behind. Honestly that includes friends and foes alike. China is trying to move in lockstep, meaning their capability could leap past friends. We have to be careful not to leave friends operating on islands.
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inst

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Unread post06 Apr 2021, 23:30

Corsair1963 wrote:
inst wrote:
The Chinese plan is to at least IOC a 6th generation fighter by 2030. The problem with the J-20 program was basically that it launched too slowly; it took 9 years to get into mass production and it's still running interim engines. A J-35, likewise, is going to be somewhat more competent than a J-15 vs a NGAD or F/A-XX, but it'd still be outclassed significantly, so what's the point?

While engine technology is basically a black art, airframes are much easier to manage. The Chinese have metamaterial stealth in development that looks as though it'd be comparable to that of the F-35; i.e, -40 or -50 dBsm stealth on 5th generation fighters.



China is behind the US with 5th Generation Stealth Fighters. So, I don't see any future 6th Generation Fighter reaching IOC before 2040 at the earliest.....(just like Europe)



If you mean they're behind, NGAD already took a first flight, so that's true. IOC after 2040 is denying the fact that the Chinese R&D spending in general is up, and they have a strategic necessity to get the aircraft online ASAP so they can crank it out. 2030 tbh is a bit aggressive in my view; they claim it want to get it operational by 2030, but IOC seems more realistic to me and I wouldn't be surprised if their actual, not projected timeline is 2035.
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weasel1962

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Unread post07 Apr 2021, 01:29

madrat wrote:Moving fast means letting the competition fall behind. Honestly that includes friends and foes alike. China is trying to move in lockstep, meaning their capability could leap past friends. We have to be careful not to leave friends operating on islands.


Got to recognize how China "moves in lockstep"

What China does is also to assume the competition will move ahead so it will identify the features adopted and incorporate it into their designs. That's what they did with the J-20. The impact to "friends" is that they don't get the F-22 but have to deal with the J-20. They will try to do the same thing with NGAD. The difference is DoD is more discreet with NGAD. A lot of features aren't announced but some can still be extrapolated. The Chinese are also looking at other efforts e.g. Japan's F3, UK's tempest, Europe's FCAS etc.

The Chinese are looking at adaptive engines and figuring how they can build it. They're looking at computing power, more powerful avionics combined with AI. I think they can build those. On the radar front, the gap is closing. they're researching into stronger construction materials. They're looking at drone/C2 control.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1195803.shtml

FC-31 is a less effective design. SAC doesn't want to waste its investment but it can't compete with the J-20. Most signs point to the Chinese leadership already looking past this. The FC-31 is a distraction.
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Corsair1963

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Unread post07 Apr 2021, 01:53

I think your both very mistaken. As China needs the J-31/J-35 short-term and as a stepping stone to any future 6th Generation Fighter.


So, I expect the J-31 to continue to be developed and then fielded in the latter part of this decade.... :wink:
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inst

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Unread post07 Apr 2021, 14:05

Corsair1963 wrote:I think your both very mistaken. As China needs the J-31/J-35 short-term and as a stepping stone to any future 6th Generation Fighter.


So, I expect the J-31 to continue to be developed and then fielded in the latter part of this decade.... :wink:


I think without a doubt the J-31 will likely be IOC by 2025. The question is more about Chinese carrier production and accompanying J-31 / J-35 mass production; they're currently doing iterative development with the Type 003 and Type 004; the Type 003 (002?) is going to feature EMALS, but only with the Type 004 do you see something fully equivalent to at least the Nimitz class in terms of displacement and propulsion. The Type 003 is in production, but it suggests the Type 004 will be late (given that it'll be their first nuclear carrier). Without the Type 004 in batch production, the Chinese are only operating Type 001 and Type 002 carriers (Kuznetsov clones) which will probably be laden with J-15s, not J-31s. So it doesn't matter how fast the Chinese can IOC the J-31 / J-35, unless they have platforms to fly them off, what's the point?

===

And I think I've said this before, but the PLAN is currently a lake patrol navy. 6 carriers aren't enough to take on the USN, and quite likely the carriers will just serve as meatshields against the USN, with the primary offensive arm remaining hypersonic ballistic and cruise missiles. Operating a CSG takes time and experience, while ballistic and cruise missiles are pretty much a known art with the only question marks being the quality of ECCM and anti-anti-ballistic missile countermeasures.
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inst

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Unread post07 Apr 2021, 14:12

weasel1962 wrote:
madrat wrote:Moving fast means letting the competition fall behind. Honestly that includes friends and foes alike. China is trying to move in lockstep, meaning their capability could leap past friends. We have to be careful not to leave friends operating on islands.


Got to recognize how China "moves in lockstep"

What China does is also to assume the competition will move ahead so it will identify the features adopted and incorporate it into their designs. That's what they did with the J-20. The impact to "friends" is that they don't get the F-22 but have to deal with the J-20. They will try to do the same thing with NGAD. The difference is DoD is more discreet with NGAD. A lot of features aren't announced but some can still be extrapolated. The Chinese are also looking at other efforts e.g. Japan's F3, UK's tempest, Europe's FCAS etc.

The Chinese are looking at adaptive engines and figuring how they can build it. They're looking at computing power, more powerful avionics combined with AI. I think they can build those. On the radar front, the gap is closing. they're researching into stronger construction materials. They're looking at drone/C2 control.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1195803.shtml

FC-31 is a less effective design. SAC doesn't want to waste its investment but it can't compete with the J-20. Most signs point to the Chinese leadership already looking past this. The FC-31 is a distraction.


Agreed here. The FC-31 / PLAN carriers aren't going to be in sufficient numbers or be manned with sufficient experience to cut the mustard against the USN. What they're going to be capable of are three things, first, to fly the flag if for whatever reason the USN doesn't care and the Chinese want to make their presence known, second, to serve as targets / meatshields in a potential Sino-American war, and third, if the Chinese manage to neutralize the USN, to provide offensive bombardment firepower against nearby targets from the cover of Chinese air defense.

In the third scenario, however, the FC-31 is likely to be short-legged. The choice of the J-20 design likely went into considerations of range; i.e, being able to do strike / escort missions into the First Island Chain. With the FC-31 / J-31 / J-35, your airfield is closer to the target, true, and you can do more sorties due to a shorter distance, but you're range limited to begin with and the aircraft doesn't seem to emphasize strike as much as the F-35 (shallow bays).

With this in mind, why not just stick to PLAAF and PLARF bombardment instead?
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Unread post07 Apr 2021, 15:06

Inst, are you going to post another sped-up video like this ? viewtopic.php?f=36&t=52913
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inst

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Unread post07 Apr 2021, 23:49

gta4 wrote:Inst, are you going to post another sped-up video like this ? viewtopic.php?f=36&t=52913


Oh sure. This has been accused of being sped up, so why not:

https://youtu.be/RdHK93m-G5U?t=21

AFAIK it's real and shows a fairly realistic 30 deg/sec ITR.
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Unread post08 Apr 2021, 00:33

inst wrote:
gta4 wrote:Inst, are you going to post another sped-up video like this ? viewtopic.php?f=36&t=52913


Oh sure. This has been accused of being sped up, so why not:

https://youtu.be/RdHK93m-G5U?t=21

AFAIK it's real and shows a fairly realistic 30 deg/sec ITR.


How did you measure it's ITR to be 30deg/sec instead of 28deg/sec? With your eyeball?
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gta4

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Unread post08 Apr 2021, 00:35

inst wrote:
gta4 wrote:Inst, are you going to post another sped-up video like this ? viewtopic.php?f=36&t=52913


Oh sure. This has been accused of being sped up, so why not:

https://youtu.be/RdHK93m-G5U?t=21

AFAIK it's real and shows a fairly realistic 30 deg/sec ITR.


This maneuver beats the sh*t out of J-20:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJLoW1C ... =yvesdulac
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inst

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Unread post08 Apr 2021, 01:33

gta4 wrote:
inst wrote:
gta4 wrote:Inst, are you going to post another sped-up video like this ? viewtopic.php?f=36&t=52913


Oh sure. This has been accused of being sped up, so why not:

https://youtu.be/RdHK93m-G5U?t=21

AFAIK it's real and shows a fairly realistic 30 deg/sec ITR.


This maneuver beats the sh*t out of J-20:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJLoW1C ... =yvesdulac


Doesn't matter. It's very hard to judge airshow performances for maximum performance (but not minimal performance, but is minimal performance really useful?), because we need to know under what fuel and loading conditions the airframes were set at, as well as altitude and speed.

You know how annoying EM diagrams are? Those are trying to capture a 3.5 dimensional phenomenon (altitude and speed to turn rate and energy depletion at turn rate) on a 2d piece of paper. In reality, you're looking at a 4.5 or even 5.5 dimensional phenomenon (loading, angle) and trying to compress it onto paper.

The F-35 is not the absolute dog detractors claim, but it did fail to meet admittedly aggressively performance metrics set by the Pentagon. Even then, it seems to have exceptional instantaneous turn rates (which is arguably more useful in a world where HOBS is likely to turn every dogfight into a telefrag), and a likely engine upgrade in the coming years will boost its sustained performance further.

With the J-20, the airframe is interesting for what it attempts to achieve (canard stealth fighter), but the sheer number of aerodynamic devices (chines, small lerx, canards, big lerx, delta, ventrals, all-moving tail-fins) suggests it's more of a journeyman effort. It was clearly built with targeting the F-22 in mind, and obviously sacrifices stealth in certain ways (not the canards, but the ventral fins are the clearest example of sacrificing stealth). It, however, has a few advantages in that its high speed and relatively low drag (from what I've seen, the Su-57 might have it beat in the drag field) permit strategic maneuverability, and it likely has a range at least equal to the F-35.

The point of interest is more a question of how it will be developed (i.e, the Chinese follow the Soviet model of building variants of their aircraft), since its basic platform permits potential modification to stealthier (fins removed and replaced with TVC, as canards provide a higher degree of yaw control than tails) variants, strike variants (since its bays are too short to accommodate traditional Sino-Russian AAMs). Moreover, the J-20 represents a massive exercise in experience building for the Chinese aerospace aviation complex given the sheer amount of aerodynamic devices employed (the only thing that's really missing at this point would be LEVCONs as well as the new elevator types rumored to be used on NGAD), the cutting-edge technologies that the Chinese have advantages in (3D printed titanium), as well as the increased experience with stealth technologies.

===

That said, this is seriously off-topic, isn't it? When we consider the FC-31, in the vein of "student" lessons, the key point of interest (and this is something the Chinese don't seem to get fully) is how to use tail lift in unstable aircraft designs during unstable parts of the flight regime. The FC-31 seems to have a proportionally smaller set of tails, compared to the F-35. If you look at the F-22 and F-35 progression, the US actually followed a similar set of design progression, with the F-35 having even larger tails than the F-22 relative to the main wing. The large tails aren't useful only for the additional lift they impart in unstable flight regimes, but also in reducing vulnerability to low-band counterstealth radar by decreasing wavelengths (and thus resolution) needed for half-wave resonance effects.

===

Also, before we go back into "F-35 is a 40% fuel fraction fighter", the J-20 seems to be in the vein of 38-40% fuel fraction at normal loads. So there, under what load is the J-20 at? At what altitude? At what speed? Same goes for the F-35. When we look at the FC-31, the same question actually has to be applied as well. It seems more similar to the F-22, so we have to wonder if a J-31 / J-35 has a decent fuel fraction, or if like the F-22, it has a relatively low fuel fraction that cripples its range.
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Unread post08 Apr 2021, 01:57

inst wrote:
I think without a doubt the J-31 will likely be IOC by 2025. The question is more about Chinese carrier production and accompanying J-31 / J-35 mass production; they're currently doing iterative development with the Type 003 and Type 004; the Type 003 (002?) is going to feature EMALS, but only with the Type 004 do you see something fully equivalent to at least the Nimitz class in terms of displacement and propulsion. The Type 003 is in production, but it suggests the Type 004 will be late (given that it'll be their first nuclear carrier). Without the Type 004 in batch production, the Chinese are only operating Type 001 and Type 002 carriers (Kuznetsov clones) which will probably be laden with J-15s, not J-31s. So it doesn't matter how fast the Chinese can IOC the J-31 / J-35, unless they have platforms to fly them off, what's the point?




I don't see either the J-31 and/or J-35 reaching IOC by 2025. Unless, the development is much further along than anyone expects???

Also, don't see why the J-35 can't operate from Ski Jump Type 001/002 Aircraft Carriers? Just as easily as the existing J-15's. That said, when the J-35's do come online it will be slowly. So, most expect all of the Chinese (PLAN) Aircraft Carriers will operate a mix of types. Just like the USN will do with the Super Hornets and F-35C's.
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Unread post08 Apr 2021, 02:00

inst wrote:Agreed here. The FC-31 / PLAN carriers aren't going to be in sufficient numbers or be manned with sufficient experience to cut the mustard against the USN. What they're going to be capable of are three things, first, to fly the flag if for whatever reason the USN doesn't care and the Chinese want to make their presence known, second, to serve as targets / meatshields in a potential Sino-American war, and third, if the Chinese manage to neutralize the USN, to provide offensive bombardment firepower against nearby targets from the cover of Chinese air defense.

In the third scenario, however, the FC-31 is likely to be short-legged. The choice of the J-20 design likely went into considerations of range; i.e, being able to do strike / escort missions into the First Island Chain. With the FC-31 / J-31 / J-35, your airfield is closer to the target, true, and you can do more sorties due to a shorter distance, but you're range limited to begin with and the aircraft doesn't seem to emphasize strike as much as the F-35 (shallow bays).

With this in mind, why not just stick to PLAAF and PLARF bombardment instead?


Agreed with the several good points raised. Imho, the carriers do add complexity to the counter-chinese strategy. If its just restricted to the PLAAF & PLARF, then the counter is easier. Supporting china shipyards (like how US supports its shipyards) is also a consideration.

I was one of the people who thought carriers was actually less useful in the china context before they started building those. However, I was reminded that its not just US that China has an issue with. In the context of US, the carriers are ineffective. Vs other nations, the carriers increases its utility. 50 J-15s aren't a lot for US to handle but for Taiwan, South East Asian countries, India etc, these aren't bigger percentages and those numbers will go up as more carriers are built.

The smaller FC-31 could mean more planes onboard, but not that much more for the older carriers which were designed with Su-33s in mind. Stealthier means more survivable in the air but the carrier itself isn't stealthy. Per USN experience, in sea denial, the longer the carrier strike reach, the safer the carrier. The PLAN SSMs have very long reach so less PLAN emphasis on carrier air strike.

Smaller FC-31 means smaller radar, less weapons load. Considering the J-15 load capability and sizes of PLAN AAM/ASM/AGMs, I don't see PLAN adoption as moot. The J-35 design could likely be significantly different from the FC-31.
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Unread post08 Apr 2021, 03:21

weasel1962 wrote:
inst wrote:Agreed here. The FC-31 / PLAN carriers aren't going to be in sufficient numbers or be manned with sufficient experience to cut the mustard against the USN. What they're going to be capable of are three things, first, to fly the flag if for whatever reason the USN doesn't care and the Chinese want to make their presence known, second, to serve as targets / meatshields in a potential Sino-American war, and third, if the Chinese manage to neutralize the USN, to provide offensive bombardment firepower against nearby targets from the cover of Chinese air defense.

In the third scenario, however, the FC-31 is likely to be short-legged. The choice of the J-20 design likely went into considerations of range; i.e, being able to do strike / escort missions into the First Island Chain. With the FC-31 / J-31 / J-35, your airfield is closer to the target, true, and you can do more sorties due to a shorter distance, but you're range limited to begin with and the aircraft doesn't seem to emphasize strike as much as the F-35 (shallow bays).

With this in mind, why not just stick to PLAAF and PLARF bombardment instead?


Agreed with the several good points raised. Imho, the carriers do add complexity to the counter-chinese strategy. If its just restricted to the PLAAF & PLARF, then the counter is easier. Supporting china shipyards (like how US supports its shipyards) is also a consideration.

I was one of the people who thought carriers was actually less useful in the china context before they started building those. However, I was reminded that its not just US that China has an issue with. In the context of US, the carriers are ineffective. Vs other nations, the carriers increases its utility. 50 J-15s aren't a lot for US to handle but for Taiwan, South East Asian countries, India etc, these aren't bigger percentages and those numbers will go up as more carriers are built.

The smaller FC-31 could mean more planes onboard, but not that much more for the older carriers which were designed with Su-33s in mind. Stealthier means more survivable in the air but the carrier itself isn't stealthy. Per USN experience, in sea denial, the longer the carrier strike reach, the safer the carrier. The PLAN SSMs have very long reach so less PLAN emphasis on carrier air strike.

Smaller FC-31 means smaller radar, less weapons load. Considering the J-15 load capability and sizes of PLAN AAM/ASM/AGMs, I don't see PLAN adoption as moot. The J-35 design could likely be significantly different from the FC-31.


J-35 design is purportedly going to be larger than the FC-31. I'm thinking of it as something akin to a Super Hornet, a heavyweight carrier plane that's been upsized from a mediumweight carrier plane, but retains the same engine class and the same radar aperture.

Likely, the J-35 design is STILL not going to be as stealthy as the F-35, pound for pound, unless you consider the F-35's weird underside design (shaping-based RCS spikes at or below 0 degrees azimuth, but the F-35 is likely designed to fight from below the enemy aircraft while engaging ground-based air defenses from range), simply because the J-35 is going to be larger, and size still matters.

===

I do need to emphasize that the PLAN might be able to use its carriers to break out of a USN blockade, but not now and probably not in 10 years. The Chinese purportedly asked the Indians when relations were still good how long it'd take to build a carrier aviation force from scratch, and they were told 20-30 years. The 4 Type 004s we're looking at are simply not sufficient to do offensive actions, but the Chinese are also working on flying drones off light carriers, in which case they'll have more force than expected.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_076_ ... opter_dock

In this case, the J-35 being crippled in strike might not be that much of an issue. The J-35s become dedicated air superiority specialists (F-22s with crappier radar, engines, but F-35-class avionics), while the Type 076s do the striking with UCAVs. But while we have estimates for Type 004 production in the next 10 years, the projected Type 076 / Type 076 successor numbers are more of a black hole.

Likewise, with the Chinese not really having any counters to NGAD or B-21 operational, it'd be questionable as to whether they'd seriously attempt a breakout in the 2020-2030 timespan, as opposed to simply relying on land-based assets to claim a sphere.

===

The one area I really appreciate you mentioning is ASEAN, on the other hand. I usually don't think about ASEAN; it's there, it has population and economic potential, but it's usually a military afterthought. But precisely because it is an afterthought makes it a vulnerable target for PLAN carriers.

The Chinese strategically want to push through a US containment project to achieve at least a sphere. Invading countries to do so isn't a very good idea because of the immense costs; the last arguably-colonial acquisitions (Tibet, Xinjiang) were occupation nightmares (counter-insurgency, bad press) for decades after their acquisition.

Instead, what they want is to use the economic draw/carrot (Japan recently exported more to China than to the United States) of the Chinese economy to get others to think: "should we really be threatening war with our biggest buyer of goods?" Moreover, they want to use the stick of "if the US and China goes to war, we're closer to China and the Chinese really don't care that much about collateral damage, even if the US wins, we're going to get totaled" to convince neighbors to either go neutral or join their side.

In this sense, ASEAN is more vulnerable to Chinese military pressure than Taiwan or Japan, since most ASEAN territories, while battling counterinsurgencies, never militarized properly during the Cold War due to their distance from the Soviet Union. The Royal Malaysian Air Force, for instance, has just 26 4th generation fighters. Singapore has 100 4th gens and 12 F-35s in queue, and 6 diesel subs and 6 frigates. The Malays have 7 frigates and 2 subs.
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