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Chinese Stealth Goes Operational, Carrier Program and Export Initiatives Accelerate

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Chinese Stealth Goes Operational, Carrier Program and Export Initiatives Accelerate

(Source: Tom Demerly)
China Has Emerged as a Preeminent Global Strategic Super Power: What Does It Mean?
During the past five years China’s defense programs have not accelerated, they have increased by multiples into segments the Chinese had not previously been involved in. The introduction of a developmental aircraft carrier program, the fielding of an operational stealth fighter, the deployment of the world’s longest range ICBM and several new state-sponsored defense programs including tactical aircraft and helicopters intended specifically for export sale signal a parallel emergence of China’s global defense doctrine along with their dominant economic influence.

But what are China’s strategic and tactical air capabilities and, more importantly, what can we theorize about their intentions not only in Asia, but around the world?

China’s new defense and aerospace initiatives are a strategic necessity to provide foundational security for their rising economic influence globally.

Two years ago, in 2015 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranked China as the number one economic superpower in the world. That year China surpassed the United States based upon the purchasing power parity of GDP indicator (gross domestic product). The IMF reported that China produced 17% of the world gross domestic product in 2014 passing the U.S. GDP of 16%. China’s increased global influence has inspired low and middle income countries to emulate China’s approach. These Chinese allies now engage in partially state-sponsored rapid economic growth including the Latin American countries, Brazil, Argentina and Columbia as it emerges from a protracted drug war. India and Pakistan are now also aligned with China on several significant defense and economic initiatives.

While the subject of China’s emerging military is vast, there are several standout defense aerospace programs that provide an insight into China’s global motives.

China’s Operational Stealth Fighter: The J-20
China’s Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter has just officially entered active service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF): “China’s latest J-20 stealth fighter has been officially commissioned into military service, Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Wu Qian told global media in a September 28, 2017 press release on the Xinhua.net and the official state defense media website.

Analysts suggest the J-20 is likely a medium-long range interceptor roughly analogous to the interceptor role of legacy aircraft like Russia’s older MiG-25 Foxbat, albeit much more sophisticated, and comparable to a Gen. 5 fighter.

There have also been comparisons to the U.S. F-22 Raptor, although the F-22 has emerged in combat in Syria as a precision strike low-observable aircraft in addition to its air superiority role. Western observers have suggested the primary low-observable capability of the J-20 is from the front of the aircraft, but perhaps not at other aspects, suggesting the J-20 is optimized for the interceptor role at least initially.

At different times, both in 2016 and 2017, there were unconfirmed reports that China may sell the J-20 to Pakistan in what would be the first-ever sale of a stealth air superiority specific Gen 5 aircraft in the export market (the multinational F-35 is described as a multirole Joint Strike Fighter, not exclusively as an air superiority interceptor like the J-20 or the U.S. F-22, which has not been exported outside the U.S.

Given this and more information about the J-20 it can be reasonably suggested that this aircraft is intended primarily for defense of Chinese air space and, if exported, some of its border allies. Sharing air defense with friendly border countries makes sense since China shares a border with a staggering 14 different countries. The U.S. only borders 2.

China’s DF-41 ICBM: Global Strike Capability in World’s Longest Range ICBM.
Contrasting China’s regional defense initiative with its J-20 aircraft is the global nuclear strike capability of the Dongfeng-41 solid-fuel, portable launch platform Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).

The Dongfeng-41 or DF-41 is an impressive and menacing missile system. It has the longest range of any ICBM in the world, surpassing the U.S. LGM-30 Minuteman III by a significant margin. Various sources quote the U.S. LGM-30 as having an approximate strike range of nearly 8,000 miles. But the Chinese and external analysts suggest the range of the DF-41 exceeds 9,000 miles.

Chinese Stealth Goes Operational, Carrier Program and Export Initiatives Accelerate

© China’s massive DF-41 ICBM has the longest range of any nuclear missile. (Photo: RT)

The DF-41 ICBM, developed beginning in late July, 2012, takes a page from Israeli ICBM development on their Jericho 3 ICBM by being so fast it is likely impossible to intercept. The DF-41 flies at Mach 25 or 19,000+ M.P.H. enabling it to strike nearly every target in the world in less than an hour.

Another advantage to the DF-41 ICBM system is its launch platform. As with many Russian systems, it is launched from a wheeled, mobile vehicle platform making its launchers difficult to track and target.

Finally, the DF-41 carries up to 12 large nuclear Multiple, Independently targeted Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) warheads, increasing its effectiveness against multiple large, hardened targets and decreasing the ability to intercept it after re-entry into the atmosphere during its terminal attack phase.

By any measure the DF-41 ICBM with its stealthy, mobile launch platform, extremely long range, massive payload and very high speed position China as a preeminent global nuclear force with the attendant diplomatic might that capability wields.

The Shenyang J-31 Gyrfalcon: China’s Joint Strike Fighter?
The Shenyang J-31 Falcon Eagle or Gyrfalcon (or “FC-31 fifth Generation Multi-Purpose Medium Fighter”), is China’s second stealth fighter jet.

The first prototype of the aircraft performed its maiden flight on Oct 31, 2012, and made a public appearance on Nov. 12, 2014 at Zhuhai Airshow.

Gyrfalcon is China’s multirole, (claimed) low-observable tactical aircraft roughly analogous, in mission if not in capability, to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It is intended for export to partner nations, it boasts a supposed low-observable configuration, is slated to be built in a naval/aircraft carrier (although not STOVL) and is claimed to be able to perform both the precision strike and air-to-air role.

The aircraft may have had some teething problems in early development.

The vertical stabilizer configuration was completely reworked from early versions that seemed to mimic the twin tails of an F-22. The J-31 has since been seen in its newest version with a swept-back twin tail.

Chinese Stealth Goes Operational, Carrier Program and Export Initiatives Accelerate

© A new carrier-based variant of the developmental J-31 may be in the works. (Photo: O+Nil)

The latest version of the J-31 was seen last year on December 26, 2016, during its first flight: it was significantly re-worked, heavier (three tons more) and at least 20-inches longer than the early prototypes according to most sources.

The latest J-31 variant appears to be a more completely developed tactical aircraft with an Infra-red search and track ball passive sensor (IRST ball).

The wings have been re-worked into a claimed lower radar cross-section shape and new engines have been installed that provide greater thrust to compensate for the additional weight. The new engines are also smokeless, a significant tactical necessity. There are also claimed improvements to its search and targeting radar. Chinese officials and media have hinted at some sensor-fusion capability to hand-off targets to other aircraft and perhaps weapons assets, as with the F-35s capability to direct weapons. Perhaps the most significant claimed future capability project for 2019 is re-engining the J-31 with indigenous WS-19 turbofan engines, providing supercruise capability without afterburner. The U.S. F-22 has supercruise but the F-35 does not.

Finally, the J-31 Gyrfalcon is a twin-engine aircraft to the F-35s single engine.

The Chinese Aircraft Carrier Program: From Buying Used to Building at Home.
That China has even embarked on an aircraft carrier program speaks volumes about their future role in global security. Aircraft carriers are about power projection. They operate beyond a country’s borders to secure its interests around the world. While the idea of having a U.S. aircraft carrier on station anywhere in the world is normal, the deployment of Russia’s only carrier in support of operations in Syria made headlines. When Chinese carriers visit India, Africa and South America the impact will be significant.

China is not new to an aircraft carrier development program. Their research into aircraft carriers dates back to at least 1985. In November of 2016 the Chinese declared their completely refitted 67,500 ton ex-Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag, a Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier built in Russia, as fully operational. It was re-commissioned the Liaoning (CV-16) type 001 aircraft carrier.

Most recently they have installed a new Z-8JH heavy rescue helicopter on board Liaoning expanding its role from power projection to humanitarian aid.

The Liaoning carries eight Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark multi-role tactical aircraft on board. They bear a strong resemblance to the Russian SU-27 aircraft family. Currently the J-15 launches using a ski-jump arrangement as with Russian and soon UK aircraft but at least one modified J-15 was photographed with a catapult bridle on its nose wheel for land-based testing of a new magnetic catapult system likely to be used on the next Chinese aircraft carrier, the yet-to-be-named CV-18, Type 002 aircraft carrier of entirely Chinese indigenous design to be built by the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai.

Chinese Stealth Goes Operational, Carrier Program and Export Initiatives Accelerate

© Chinese Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark aircraft on board the carrier Liaoning (CV-16). (Photo: Xinhua)

Chinese Gunships: A New Category for A New World Order.
On May 18, 2017 China’s new Z-19E attack helicopter built by the state-owned AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry factory made its first public flight. State news agency Xinhua said the Z-19E is built for both the domestic and export market.

The Z-19E is the first modern helicopter gunship for the Chinese. It features the usual gunship mix of helmet-sight cued cannon mounted in winglet pods, missiles and rockets.

The aircraft uses a covered Fenestron-style internal tail rotor borrowed from the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin helicopter. The cockpit is armored and the crew seats are energy-absorbing for enhanced survivability.

The Z-19E will likely be an affordable alternative for countries not shopping from the United States or Russia for an import attack helicopter solution. This likely includes several potential customers on the African continent as well as Asia and South America.

Chinese Stealth Goes Operational, Carrier Program and Export Initiatives Accelerate

© The Z-19E is a cost-effective attack helicopter solution for export. (Photo: Reuters)

Chinese RPA’s, Already an Export Success with New Models Coming.
China has already sold remotely piloted aircraft, RPAs, to Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Their newest RPA, the CH-5 CaiHong (Rainbow) flew for the first time this summer on July 14 in Hebei Province.

Jane’s Defense quoted Shi Wen, chief engineer of the CH series RPAs, as saying that the CH-5 outperforms all Chinese RPAs when it comes to endurance and payload. “The UAV is as good as the US-made General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper: a hunter-killer drone often deemed by Western analysts as the best of its kind,” Wen claimed.

Also aiming for export buyers, China has boasted that the new CH-5 is “Less than half the cost” of the U.S. built General Atomics MQ-9 according to journalist Stephan Chin of the South China Morning Post. China claims the CH-5 can stay aloft for “up to two days” and is configured to carry up to 16 guided air-to-ground weapons.

Not for export is China’s secretive “Sharp Sword” stealth drone. The advanced jet-powered RPA is designed to carry a heavy weapons load of over two tons. It is 33-feet long with a wingspan of 44-feet.

Chinese Stealth Goes Operational, Carrier Program and Export Initiatives Accelerate

© The secretive Chinese Sharp Sword jet powered long range stealth drone is not for export. (Photo: Xinhua)

The Sharp Sword has more than a passing resemblance to the U.S. X-47B drone and the British Taranis UAV. Initially, analysts suggest the Sharp Sword will be used in the reconnaissance role over dense air defense networks along with maritime surveillance. Follow-on versions will be configured as first-strike weapons against heavily defended targets for a “first day of war” scenario. As with the U.S. jet-powered stealth drones there is planning for a carrier launched version also.

This is just a brief overview of some of China’s vast expansion in modern defense and aerospace projects for its domestic and newly expanding export market. Given China’s industrial capacity and new global economic dominance we are likely to see many more.

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RUAG and Elbit Systems to Form a Joint Venture

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RUAG and Elbit Systems to Form a Joint Venture
Photo credit: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/A logo of Swiss defence equipment maker RUAG at a branch in Zurich, Switzerland, 23rd March 2018.

BERN, Switzerland and HAIFA, Israel (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Last week the Swiss company RUAG and the Israel-based international defence electronics company Elbit Systems announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the companies to form a Joint Venture Company, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

Read more: Elbit Systems Held Industrial Cooperation Day for Potential Partners from Bulgaria

The new entity will be established in Switzerland with a joint team comprised of experts from both companies, who have already started their work in collaboration.

The CEO of RUAG Defence, Andreas Berger, commented, “We at RUAG Defence are looking forward to working with Elbit Systems and we are convinced that this collaboration will allow us to support the Swiss Army with our proven competence and professionalism.”

Read more: British Army Selects Elbit Systems UK to Provide Morpheus BMA Solution

The Joint Venture Company will allow the companies to synergize and leverage their respective competences and in this way it will serve as a national Communication and System Competence Centre of Excellence in support of the needs and requirements of the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS). In addition, it will act as a knowledge centre for the purposes of the companies’ joint efforts with regard to a DDPS’ communication program of the Swiss Defence Ministry and other joint endeavours in the future.

Read more: Elbit Systems Presents Advanced Systems and Market Leading Capabilities at DSEI Exhibition 2017

“It is a privilege to be in a position to offer technologically advanced and operational solutions for the Swiss Armed Forces. We are proud to join forces with RUAG and believe that this collaboration will strengthen local support and engineering capabilities through transfer of knowhow,” said the Senior Vice President at Elbit Systems C4I & Cyber Haim Delmar.

About RUAG

The Swiss company RUAG develop and produce innovative products and services for customers all over the world and which are used on land, in the air and in space. The core business of RUAG Defence includes products and services for tracked and wheeled vehicles, realistic training for soldiers and reliable information and communication infrastructures, as well as protection solutions to counter ballistic and electromagnetic threats. Besides its sites in Switzerland, the company has branch offices and sales offices in France, Germany, Singapore and the Middle East, including partnerships all over the world.

About Elbit Systems

Elbit Systems is an international high technology company headquartered in Israel. It operates in the areas of aerospace, land and naval systems, C4ISR, unmanned aircraft systems, advanced electro-optics, electro-optic space systems, EW suites, signal intelligence systems, data links and communications systems, radios and cyber-based systems.

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Source: RUAG, Elbit Systems

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GBU-49 Dropped from F-35A for the First Time during Training

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GBU-49 Dropped from F-35A for the First Time during Training
Photo credit: the United States Air Force/F-35A dropping GBU-49

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Florida, the USA (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The GBU-49 precision bomb made by Raytheon was dropped for the first time from the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II in combat training at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

Lt Col Matthew Johnston commented, “Like any new weapon, what we learned, and what we will learn as we continue to train with the GBU-49, will directly impact our tactics and will make the F-35A even more lethal.”

Read more: First Automated Landing of an MQ-9 Block 5 Completed by USAF

The test was conducted on 7th November 2018 by the US Air Force (USAF) 388th Fighter Wing’s 34th Fighter Squadron, stationed at Hill AFB, Utah. According to the service, during the combat training, weapons crews, maintainers, and pilots were assessed on their ability to build, load, and drop the weapons.

USAF F-35A pilots are being trained in dropping of the GBU-49 bomb in flight simulators at Hill AFB, however continued live trainings are part of the plans for refining their tactics and techniques. As reported by the United States Air Force, further training on the Utah Test and Training Range with live and inert GBU-49 bombs will be soon organized.

Read more: The Two USAF Hypersonic Programmes Awarded to Lockheed Martin

The GBU-49 bomb is Raytheon’s Enhanced dual-mode GPS and Laser guided version of the laser-only GBU-12 bomb. Therefore, it is a converted “dumb” bomb, which is guided to its target through a laser and GPS. The precision weapon can be used against moving or stationary targets in a variety of weather conditions.

The F-35 Lightning II of Lockheed Martin is a family of single-seat, single-engined, all-weather stealth multirole fighters. The fifth-generation combat aircraft is developed for ground-attack and air-superiority missions. Its main models are three: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) variant.

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Source: FlightGlobal

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MyDefence Announced Successful Integration of Its C-UAS Sensors in Vehicle Platforms

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MyDefence Announced Successful Integration of Its C-UAS Sensors in Vehicle Platforms
Photo credit: MyDefence

CARY, North Carolina, the USA (BulgarianMilitary.com) – MyDefence Communication announced last week that the company had successfully integrated its Counter Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) technology into the General Dynamics Land Systems Light Armoured Vehicle platform for the needs of military forces, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

The CEO of MyDefence North America, Luke Layman, commented, “We are proud to announce the successful integration of our Counter UAS sensors into the General Dynamics Land Systems Light Armoured Vehicle platform. This is the first fully integrated Counter UAS solution available for mobile platforms with support for third-party battle management systems.”

Read more: A Portable Counter UAS Jammer Has Been Launched by MyDefence

Advanced, networked radio-frequency (RF) sensors have been developed by MyDefence and the company has worked closely with General Dynamics Land Systems in order to integrate these drone sensors into a wheeled armoured vehicle platform so that to provide on-the-move detect and defeat capability of drones for military operators. Now, thanks to the integrated drone sensors, military operators will be able to effectively detect and defeat hostile drones used either for reconnaissance or as weapon delivery systems.

MyDefence first began integration tests together with the General Dynamics Land Systems platform last year. The platform has evolved since then and the Counter Unmanned Aerial System solution as of the moment can be fully integrated into any vehicle platform and provide the flexibility and scalability needed for military operators.

Read more: General Dynamics Land Systems Will Upgrade 116 Stryker Vehicles of the US Army

The platform can detect drones through RF technology and defeat threats through smart jamming. The solution can be integrated with third-party battle-management systems (BMS), and through a standard tactical link, the mobile platform can communicate and provide feedback to any remote command and control (C2) system and thus ensure greater situational awareness and enhanced battlefield effectiveness.

About MyDefence

MyDefence is established by military officers. The company is specialized in developing sensors and effectors for military customers to counter the threat of hostile drones. It offers innovative and versatile Counter UAS solutions for any type of mission.

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Source: MyDefence

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JOBSS Delivered to Van Halteren Defence under the I-HCT Programme

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JOBSS Delivered to Van Halteren Defence under the I-HCT Programme
Photo credit: Defense Techno-Consult

BUNSCHOTEN, the Netherlands (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The Israeli Bagira Systems has delivered its Joint-fires BattleSpace Simulator (JOBSS) to Van Halteren Defence. This move is part of the Integrated-Howitzer Crew Trainer (I-HCT) programme of Van Halteren Defence for the Royal Thai Army, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

Under the mentioned above programme, JOBSS was integrated with a battery of 105mm HCT devices and with the operational C2 system of the Royal Thai Army.

Read more: The Royal Thai Navy Midget Submarine Programme Will Be Supported by BMT

The I-HCT of the Royal Thai Army features a virtual database of training areas and a battery of LG1, M101 and L119 105mm towed howitzers, which ensure training for practising the full fire support cycle: from the forward observer through the fire direction centre to the gun detachment.

Van Halteren has been engaged with the provision of HCTs since 1990 and the Royal Netherlands Army was its first customer. As of the moment, the company may make a boast of twelve international customers.

Read more: The Royal Thai Air Force Will Add Four New Airbus H225M Helicopters to Its Fleet

Bagira explained that the joint-fires virtual training system, JOBSS, was designed by the company for the Israeli Defence Forces where it started its service two years ago, in 2016. Two export customers have also purchased the system.

Van Haltern Defence’s HCTs perform trainings with high-fidelity simulated guns and ammunition. The system has an instructor operating station, training ammunition, which is developed so that to look exactly like live ammunition, and a fully simulated recoiling howitzer for simulation of the effects of firing.

Read more: Indra Will Equip the Royal Thai Air Force with Its Lanza 3D Radar

The I-HCT ensures an integrated live and virtual training environment through Digital Dust, which is the concept of Bagira for LVC training, which includes all the simulators into one environment, which is based on the B-One simulation engine of the company.

As reported by Bagira, “all trainee’s activities and procedures are recorded and registered in order to enable a complete and extensive after action review and to ensure mission readiness.”

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Source: Shephard Media

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