Wednesday, July 25, 2007

PLA highly shows Type 093 Sub and PLZ-05 SPH

June 16, "Expo of National Defense and Armed Forces Achievements since New China's Foundation" was held in Beijing "Chinese People Revolutionary military Museum". Several home-made military equipments unveiled in public. Especially, Type 093 attack nuclear submarine and Type 05 self-propelled howitzer can be impressively found in the expo.
Type 093 nuclear-powered submarine is exposed by a photo of its surface sailing state. The photo has no explanation of the sub's designation name but a unclear comment: "New Type Nuclear Submarine", because China never open the fresh weapon's exact model. The distinguished appearance comparing with Type 091 sub, however, tells that the boat in the photo is the legendary Type 093 attack nuclear submarine.

The most notable change in Type 093 submarine is the disappearance of controlling plane on sub's sail. Previously an unconfirmed blurred image of Type 093 submarine on Internet also corroborates the change. If the Type 093 sub uses "bow diving planes" like U.S. navy Virginia class submarines, the main reason is Type 093 has a smaller "conning tower" with no space for rudder steering gear. PLA navy has known the fact that a decreased sized sub sail can reduce the noise and resistance force when in underwater maneuver.

Besides, the positions of Type 093's sail, rescue buoy and bow antenna is changed. And these changes can be compared with the displayed Type 091A model and other previous photos. Actually, the photo gives a sense that the sail's position is backward than before. And this design also needs bow-diving-plane configuration for greater controlling efficient.

But in the picture, the sub's "conning tower" is even looked to be higher and larger than before. So another possibility is that the photographing angle can not shot the sail dive planes.

A widely sited conclusion is that Type 093 project is assisted by Russian Rubin Central Design Bureau or it has heavy Russian influence. Western analyzers often compare Type 093 with Russian Victor-III nuclear-power attack submarine. Now the Photo clarifies that the Chinese Type 093 has its own characters and its shape-design is close to Royal Navy Trafalgar Class submarine.

Another "VIP" in expo is PLZ-05 155mm self-propelled howitzer. PLZ-05 SPH has a enlarged turret which installed on PLZ-45 full-track chassis. PLZ-05 is a exportation designation of NORINCO in the year of 2002. Most technologies of PLA-05 are from PLZ-04 SPH for PLA Army Artillery. It has been known that PLZ-05's barrel length is 52 caliber and PLZ-04 SPH has a 54 caliber length barrel.

The PLZ-05 displayed on the museum has a commander panoramic periscope on the top of turret and a gunner day/night direct fire sight parallel fitted on gun barrel. Indeed, PLZ-04 SPH is a milestone in PLA Army artillery Digitalization.

Furthermore, the outdoor display in museum also includes JH-7A fighter, Type 99G, New Amphibious Vehicle, DF-25 ballistic missile and other Land& air Warfare System.

China Media unveils one Han class Submarine's out of commission

July 3rd,Qingdao local media said that a retired nuclear submarine was going to be exhibited in Qingdao Naval Museum. It means that the type 091 nuclear submarine (NATO called as "Han" class) starts to quit its service in PLA Navy 33 years later and to be replaced by Type 093 submarine.

The report did not say the detail information of the retired submarine. But it is usually believed that the first one is Type 091 SSN-401 submarine, which is called as "Long March No.1" in China. Several years before, some western analyzers have judged that the SSN-401 and SSN-402 submarines have been no longer operational in duty because of technological malfunction and reactor radiation pollution. However PLA never admitted it and the secret-keeping fog on the nuclear submarine fleet close its door to all foreign and domestic civilian news media.

Except the No.401 submarine, the SSN-402 submarine (serviced in 1980) and SSN-403(serviced in 1984) have been operational in PLA navy for over 20 years. The newest one, SSN-405, is over 17 years. Since the years of 2000, the main players in exercises are usually SSN-404 and SSN-405.

There is an unconfirmed event that a Type 091 nuclear submarine collided with a Russian Victor-III nuclear submarine (K-234). According to the service time, SSN-401 and SSN-402 may be the sufferer involved in the accident. Actually after entering 21st century, PLA intentionally decreased the size of the original huge number on submarine superstructure to cover the exact active status of Type 091 nuclear submarine.

Now it can be asserted that SSN 401 has been retired from PLA navy, because 33-year service time is not completely unacceptable. USS Los Angeles SSN-688 is still active for 31 years since its commission in 13 November 1976. Since the SSN-401 has been playing a valuable testing platform of PLA, SSN-402 has possibility of being out.

The limited number of PLA navy nuclear submarine kept a special position of Type 091 submarine. In PLA navy, Type 091 was called as “Strategic” Attack Nuclear submarine. In fact, type 091 submarines often carry strategic tasks, like breaking through the second island chain to show PLA’s power in high seas or executing deterrent to U.S. carrier striking group, although the real aftermath is unclear.
Considering PLA Navy’s strategic position in western pacific, the nuclear submarine amount needs to be expanded. So the total retirement of Han class family can not be seen in next 6-8 years.

China SAC is researching anti-stealth UAV

One Blog on Chinese Internet one week before appeared an article written by an employee from the Technological Institute of AVIC I Aviation R&D Center. The content is a text record of a visiting in Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC). Now the article has been forced to be deleted just because several hidden projects were uncovered by the online text.

From the blog resource, it can be discovered that SAC is busy on the carrier-borne fighter technologies developing, designing the 5th generation fighter and even jointly developing strategic “anti-stealth” UAV, other than the manufacturing of J-8F/G and J-11 fighter.

SAC now is still improving the J-8II fighter. At present, J-8B/C/H have equipped with PL-11 air missile (a Russian missile copy, range from 20 to 22 km) to archive the look down/shoot down ability. SAC has produced J-8F with new air avionics to attack two objects simultaneously with PL-12 active radar missile (55 km). J-8G, an anti-radar variant, can perform a “wild weasel” task with YJ-91 active anti-radar missile. And JZ-8, the newest one of J-8 family, is modified with optical-electronic reconnaissance pods and surface-air datalink.

The blog said that the J-11B project is initiated in June 2002 and SAC is developing carrier-borne fighter J-15 from J-11B. But the design and production of landing hook, tail centrum shortening and folding wing are technical difficulties blocking J-15’s came out.

“Snowy Owl”, is a China’s fifth generation fighter project name firstly known by outside world. SAC’s fifth generation fighter is not beyond some analyzers’ prediction, such as triplane configuration with canard, low observation (RCS <0.3 square meter), Supersonic cruise and super mobility.

In SAC, the choice of foreplane arouses a drastic dispute. Some points sited the foreplane’s compromise to fighter stealth, which is summarized by U.S. After its research, SAC however accepted the eclectic stealth performance affected by canard configuration, because PLA Air Force has no necessary to keep a global air striking ability like U.S. Air Force.

SAC admitted the superiority of U.S F-22 and F-35, so it is carrying a Sino-Russia joint-project: “Supernal Hawk” strategic high Altitude and Long Endurance (HAE) Anti-Stealth UAV. The so-called anti-stealth UAV actually is an air-based bistatic radar warning system. “Supernal Hawk” UAV will probably coordinate with PLA “KJ-2000” AWACS or establish a warning network by 2-3 UAVs. The typical deployment method is to place one UAV forward on the high altitude above the west pacific to supervise the directions of Japan and Guam. The UAV can hold the height advantage to search F-22 or F-35. The location information of objects will passively transferred to rear AWACS or other UAV and then guide missile attack.

The handicaps of the project however are aeronautic design, long endurance turbofan engine and sensor. So SAC plans to get Russian’s engine technologies and aircraft design experience to satisfy large-scale Drone’s HAE performance. And the sensor of UAV will presumably be china-made large Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar with conformal Antenna.

In 2006 Zhuhai Airshow, SAC demonstrated a concept combat UAV model named “Dark Sword”. Now it has been clear that China is fairly active on UAV research area where the Chinese Aviation Industries can greatly reduce technology gap with western countries.