Tag Archives: china

PLA Navy tests new refueling pod for J-15 carrier fighter|Politics|News|WantChinaTimes.com

Having successfully copied the Russian-built UPAZ-1A aerial refueling pod, China’s PLA Navy can refuel a J-15 carrier-based fighter in midair in 5.3 minutes, the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies said on Jan. 22.

via PLA Navy tests new refueling pod for J-15 carrier fighter|Politics|News|WantChinaTimes.com.

Spill’s on a bit of an air-to-air refueling history kick right now, so I thought I’d share this. Carrier aircraft almost inevitably use probe and drogue refueling. Our land based friends tend to use boom and receptacle, because it was designed for large bomber type aircraft. Booms also have much higher fuel transfer rates. But they require a large dedicated tanker, such as the KC-135. Obviously, you can’t fit one of those on a carrier. So probe and drogue it is.

There’s primarily two types of tanking in naval air, mission tanking, and recovery tanking. Mission tanking is used to extend the endurance or range of strike aircraft for a given mission. Recovery tanking is simply topping off returning aircraft to give them more time to land aboard ship, for instance, if the recovery is delayed by a foul deck or the pilot is having his turn in the barrel and repeatedly boltering (failing to arrest during his landing).

The US Navy used to have dedicated KA-3B and KA-6D tankers in its air wings, which carried sufficient fuel to perform both tanking missions pretty well. Today, the tankers of the air wing are simply F/A-18 E and F SuperHornets that have a buddy refueling pod slapped on. The long, long flights required to support operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and a few other places also means the Navy has increasingly had to rely on tanker support from the Air Force for mission tanking. KC-135s have an adapter to put a basket on the end of their boom.

Tanking is, like landing upon a carrier, one of those incredibly difficult feats of airmanship that naval aviators simply must become proficient in as a matter of routine, or they are useless to the fleet.

For the Chinese, this is especially so. The ski-jump take off they use on their carrier greatly limits the gross weight a fighter can take off with. If the fighter is going to carry a useful load of weapons, that means much less than full fuel can be carried. Hence the need for a refueling pod. Just how much one J-15 (essentially a Chinese carrier capable version of the Russian Su-33) can transfer is an open question. But a little bit of giveaway fuel is a whole lot better than none.

An UPAZ-1A aerial refueling pod on a Russian Su-24 fighter bomber. (Internet photo)

UPAZ-1A Refueling pod under Russian Su-24. Presumably the Chinese derivative is similar in appearance.

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The Real Military Threat from China: Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles | The National Interest

“Air-Sea Battle” with Chinese Characteristics: a large fleet of land-based aircraft armed with some of the world’s most advanced anti-ship cruise missiles.

Lyle J. Goldstein

January 22, 2015

 

During the 1982 Falklands War, Argentina possessed a measly total of five Exocet anti-ship cruise missiles with which to face down the Royal Navy in the South Atlantic. Had that number been more like 50 or 100, that conflict might well have had a very different ending. This important lesson has not been lost on China’s military chiefs. Indeed, China has placed great emphasis on anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) development over the last three decades and is now set to reap the strategic benefits of this singular focus.

via The Real Military Threat from China: Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles | The National Interest.

Mr. Goldstein is indeed correct that large inventory of Chinese ASCM present a greater threat to US surface fleets in the Western Pacific than probably any other single Chinese weapon system.

But his analysis is too focused on the arrows in the quiver, and not enough on the eye of the Archer.

The huge numbers of cruise missiles are useless if rather precise information is lacking on the location, course, and speed of the intended target. And for all of China’s impressive improvements in maritime strike capability over the last three decades, their investments in maritime patrol aircraft and other targeting systems seem decidedly lacking.

To be sure, to influence the course of events ashore, a power projection navy such as ours must eventually close the coast, coming within easy sensor range of an enemy. But the great virtue of seapower here is the initiative to choose the time and place for such strikes.

That’s not to say the US Navy should simply assume it can easily better the Chinese. It shouldn’t. But it is a caution to the reader to not magnify the threat beyond all reason.

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The Next Wave of Chinese Expansion

When we look at aggressive Chinese actions, we tend to see them in terms of the South China Sea, and the first island chain. That is, in the far reaches of the western Pacific Ocean.

Writing at The Diplomat, David Brewster takes a look at Chinese efforts to extend their influence not to their east, but rather to the west, in the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal.

Since late 2013, Beijing has been promoting its “Maritime Silk Route” (MSR) initiative as a proposed oceanic complement to its various overland “Silk Route” projects. Details remain sketchy, but the proposal appears to envisage a system of linked ports, infrastructure projects and special economic zones in Southeast Asia and the northern Indian Ocean. While much of the public discussion to date has focused on ports and infrastructure, probably of greater significance is the development of new production and distribution chains across the region, with China at its center. The concept might be seen as akin to Japan’s “flying geese” strategy of the 1970s when Japanese companies outsourced component production to successive tiers of lower-cost states in Southeast Asia.

This actually makes a fair amount of sense, and while the Chinese might resort to bullying and aggressive behavior, it isn’t necessarily so.

China’s massive economic growth in the last 40 years was largely financed by selling very cheap goods to America. Not solely, but largely. But that is changing. First, the market is saturated, with poor prospects for growth. And China desperately needs to continue economic growth or risk internal instability. Second, the growth in the Chinese economy has raised the standard of living, meaning that the very tool they used to achieve growth, dirt cheap labor, is no longer available. On the plus side, however, their manufacturing infrastructure and their pool of talent has grown.

The Bay nations have a large pool of low skilled, extremely cheap labor. China can seek to establish trade with those nations, buying the sort of cheap goods they formerly exported to us, now for their own domestic consumption, a prices cheaper than their own production can achieve. And the Chinese can then export to those Bay nation goods that they previously could not afford.

The Chinese Maritime Silk Road can be seen as a form of soft colonialism, or as embracing trade as a mutually beneficial means of economic growth and a path to prosperity.

Brewster’s article reasonably looks at Chinese attempts to gain access to ports and other facilities for military applications. Which, from a Chinese perspective is entirely reasonable.  The Royal Navy didn’t grow to span the globe just because. It grew to protect the international trade of the British Empire. So too can one see the Chinese Navy protecting its trade routes, particularly when the post-war guarantor of maritime security, the United States Navy, is shrinking, and less and less able to exert its influences in areas such as the Bay of Bengal. 

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PLAN in Action

The Chinese Navy, long known as the People’s Liberation Army Navy, is undergoing a massive shipbuilding campaign to modernize. Long seen as a technologically backwards coastal force, it is attempting to build a modern blue water regional force. It has made great strides, but still has large numbers of legacy platforms in service.

Here’s a pretty interesting look at Chinese operations.

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The People’s Republic of China Goes all Sun Tsu on Us

tsu

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

The classic affirmation of the ancient Chinese strategist and philosopher is to be ignored at one’s own great peril.

The rest of the world, and China in particular, sees Mr Obama in the opposite light – as a weak leader in the autumn of his presidency…   Mr Xi has shown Mr Obama little respect since their first summit in California last year. Mr Obama warned his Chinese counterpart to stop the cyber attacks on the Pentagon and other targets. China’s cyber-incursions increased. Earlier this year, the White House indicted five Chinese nationals for cyber-espionage, including a senior military officer. None are likely to be brought to trial. It was the kind of empty gesture Beijing has come to expect of Mr Obama.

Vladimir Putin could not have said it better.  Nor Bashir Assad.  Or Rouhani.  Or our (erstwhile) allies, either.   Embolden our adversaries, worry our partners.  That is the sum total of the foreign policy accomplishments of the Obama Administration and its tiresome and amateur ideological shills.

There will be a price to pay, in power, influence, and prestige.  Or in the lives of Lance Corporals.  Or both.

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Filed under China, Defense, history, iraq, islam, israel, Libya, obama, Politics

Beijing Air & Space Museum

Global Aviation Review has a fascinating photo essay on the Beijing Air and Space Museum. Located at Beijing University and sometimes called the China Aviaiton Museum, there’s a rare and unique collection of aircraft that those outside of China rarely get to see and it offers an interesting glimpse of Chinese aviation history.

Something you won't see anywhere else, a P-47 and across the way, a MiG-9.

Something you won’t see anywhere else, a P-47 and across the way a MiG-9.

The Beijing Air and Space Museum has one of the very few Northrop P-61 Black Widow:

IMG_6814

Another unique exhibit featuring the Chinese built MiG-15 and MiG-17 with the Northrop P-61 Black Widow.

Head on over to Global Aviation Resource to take a gander at more of the Museum.

Fascinating stuff behind the Bamboo Curtain

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Hong Kong- A Tipping Point?

If you hadn’t heard, there are massive protests in Hong Kong ongoing regarding the mainland Chinese government rejection of democratic voting for Governor of Hong Kong. When the British reached the agreement to return Hong Kong to China, that was one of the stipulations. China has simply disregarded it. And Britain is, of course, powerless to do anything about it.  The communist Chinese government is more than willing to have an election. They just want to pick the slate of available candidates.

The Chinese government may not be as stable as it appears. It is notoriously opaque. And we’ve heard speculation that the military is not nearly as much under civil (that is, Party) control as the government would have us think. Some have speculated that the ongoing incursions into Indian territory have been ordered by the military, and not by the Party.

Further, the danger to a government’s internal stability is rarely from the poor. Nor from the rich. Revolutions are spawned by the middle class. And the rising middle class in China, in spite being a small percentage of the nation, is still a huge number of actual people. And they chafe under the yoke of the government that enjoys the fruits of their productivity, and yet withholds any real political power from them. Some parts, though by no means all, of the middle class see the government as corrupt and the bureaucracies as an overburden on the potential for even greater economic growth.

In 1989, we saw that the Chinese government and military were more than willing to use massive force to tamp down even the most modest demands for reform. Will they do so in Hong Kong now? And if they don’t use force in Hong Kong, will that cause further unrest to spread to the mainland?

The protests in Hong Kong may yet fizzle out.

Or they may be the first rubles in a seismic shift in the politic scene in Asia.

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