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Chengdu J-20

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1 Chengdu J-20 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:28 am

MudRat02

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I wasn't expecting it so soon, but here it is: the Chengdu J-20 "Black Eagle". Taxi tests in late December and apparently it has flown now too (may just be rumour). Predictably, the response here has been pretty "doom and gloom" and has been another opportunity for punters with engineering degrees and the general press to savage the F-35 with comparisons made between it and the F-35, which then leads to a F-35 vs. Pak-Fa prediction and so on. While there is probably some truth in the A-A comparisons (from what we know the Pak-Fa and the J-10 will probably be faster, more manoeuvrable, have a greater payload and range), I'm surprised that some believe they are qualified to accurately estimate the stealth and manoeuvrability of this jet just by looking at it. Carlo Kopp in particular has these gems of largely baseless hyperbole:

The stealth shaping is without doubt considerably better than that seen in the Russian T-50 PAK-FA prototypes and, even more so, than that seen in the intended production configuration of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The J-XX/J-20 wing fuselage join, critical for beam and all aspect stealth, is in shaping and angle very similar to the F-22, and clearly superior to both the Russian T-50 PAK-FA prototypes and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Any notion that an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter or F/A-18E/F Super Hornet will be capable of competing against this Chengdu design in air combat, let alone penetrate airspace defended by this fighter, would be simply absurd.

Surprisingly, force multipliers such as AWACS do not factor into the comparisons (the degree of sensor integration and data sharing being one of the F-35's strong points). Fun and games aside, this will still undoubtedly complicate the US's ability to project power in that region. Realistically, both the Pak-Fa and the J-20 will probably be very potent fighters. A pretty impressive leap in indigenous fighter design for China. I just want to try my hand against one in a Hornet! lol!

2 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:13 pm

BeakerVBA


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I like the ventral fins. VERY stealthy design. Laughing Look at those angles.

3 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:47 pm

cmatt


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On of the most crucial elements of stealth technology is manufacturing tolerances, and the ability to ensure accuracies. I'm a little skeptical that China would be able to achieve this with consistent results, or they haven't so far.

4 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:33 pm

BeakerVBA


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No way to know. One thing's for sure... their infrastructure has exploded. Might be the real deal.

5 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:46 pm

MudRat02

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Yeah, on the subject of the ventral fins - surely their excessive use of airfoils would diminish stealth? I'm no expert, but I've read that canards are a hurdle for stealth and compromises the low observability properties of the aircraft when they move. Some say that the fins also move, if so that would probably be extremely difficult to keep LO.

6 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:50 am

MudRat02

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My attention has been so fixed on the the flood we have narrowly missed (thankfully!) I didn't even realise this had occurred: the Black Eagle has flown, a maiden flight observed by Robert Gates.

7 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:26 am

BeakerVBA


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Apparently its name is actually "Black Silk." Progress seems to be humming right along, but what we can't see is how effective of a weapons platform it may or may not be. That's what it comes down to, really. If it can't outfight, it's just another media stunt.

8 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:40 pm

MudRat02

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Maybe black silk is the literal translation of a Mandarin desig? I don't know, I've seen both about.

As for its lethality, I suppose we can only speculate. They've made a few fighters already and if the J-10 is any indication, and from what I've heard is comparable to some F-16 variants, then their next gen (the J-20) should have some respectable capabilities. I doubt it will be a "Raptor killer", but it won't need to be that good to cause problems.

9 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:48 pm

BeakerVBA


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Yeah, I don't want to get into hearsay...

10 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:57 pm

MudRat02

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Who's getting into hearsay?

Check the specs of the J-10 out for yourself and it will become obvious that it is in the same class, you don't need to do much research to back that up. If you do, you'll find no shortage of analytical documents pointing towards a capability in that neighbourhood. Its a more sound deduction than that of the J-20 being a media stunt.

11 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:54 pm

BeakerVBA


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What I'm saying is, I prefer not to try to come up with some profile of what this aircraft can do when nobody has seen it do much more than take off and land. That has little to do with its tactical effectiveness. I don't think some armchair analyst is enough for me. Neither are some drummed up "stats" for an aircraft that has hardly even been seen up close... and pardon me if I don't believe everything the Chinese government might release; they don't exactly have the most reputable history in spreading truth. Everything I've seen has been an impressive mixture of generalization and unfounded conclusions.

Especially things like this:
http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-J-XX-Prototype.html

I love this line:
The stealth shaping is without doubt considerably better than that seen in the Russian T-50 PAK-FA prototypes and, even more so, than that seen in the intended production configuration of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Thanks for that gem, "Carlo Kopp!" Tell me how you determined that, without a doubt! I see an impressive array of sharp, moving surfaces, and ventral fins... none of which will do much for RCS. (Moving surfaces, flat surfaces, right angles... none of those are helpful.) Not to say that they would ruin Chengdu's reduced-RCS design, but they certainly aren't going to help.

More genius by the same author:
Like the distracted car driver, the crews of the F-35 and the F/A-18E/F can be fully informed by watching the dancing digital displays, but they cannot avoid the inevitable crash.

Seems only logical! Laughing I have yet to find anything more than very broad or obvious observations that seems to have any sort of credibility.

12 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:34 pm

MudRat02

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Yeah Carlo Kopp, a mobile phone engineer who claims to have flown the Super Hornet and has F-111 simulator hours logged (and by that I mean, has taken a ride in a Super Hornet and has used the F-111 simulator as a lot of us have), seems to think that he's in a position to deduce some pretty detailed capability information at a glance. This isn't an isolated incident for him, just the latest in a long line of articles that push his foolish agenda. The agenda of a F-22 & a completely overhauled "Super F-111" with AESA and AMRAAMS for RAAF's Air Combat Group. Embarrassing if nothing else. Neutral

My only point is that, given the reasonably certain capabilities of their more recent indigenous fighter designs, we can be certain that the new jet will have some combat capabilities that will be significant. Whether it ends up as more of a LO Flanker sort of aircraft, a competitive 5th gen fighter or a ground attack fighter remains to be seen, but it will be a step up from their current technology which is nothing to be scoffed at either.

13 Re: Chengdu J-20 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:22 pm

BeakerVBA


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Certainly no joke. I'm not sure we have a very good grasp of the performance of the J-10, either, as their first truly modern indigenous fighter. I take the J-20 more as an example of their ability to develop a new fighter aircraft and a very rapid pace... certainly a sign of the economic times.

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