Friday, December 24, 2010

Taiwan Modernizes, Streamlines Spec Ops 

Defense News


Taiwan Modernizes, Streamlines Spec Ops 


PINGTUNG COUNTY, Taiwan — Taiwan’s airborne and special operations forces have undergone significant streamlining and modernizing in the past 10 years.

The Army’s Aviation and Special Forces Command (ASFC) showed off many of its new capabilities and equipment during an airborne exercise Dec. 14 at the Dawu Airborne Training Center here.

The Ministry of National Defense allowed the media direct access to ASFC troops and equipment in an effort to ward off concerns that Taiwan’s defense capabilities are faltering as China’s military improves.

The airborne exercise featured several specialized parachute jumps, including a display by the Shenlung (Heaven Dragon) skydiving demonstration squad, a powered paragliding demonstration and a basic jump by trainees from a C-130H Hercules cargo aircraft.
The Shenlung squad has 21 members, including six women. The average team member has conducted between 500 and 1,000 jumps.

Taiwan’s airborne training program is modeled after the U.S. Army’s at Fort Benning, Ga., an ASFC officer said.

“Jump school lasts three weeks and they have to make five jumps, including a night jump, to graduate,” the officer said.

Taiwan’s Army reduced its special ops forces from two airborne brigades to two groups and placed all those forces and aviation helicopter units under one command, the ASFC, stood up in 2007 in Tainan county.

The ASFC’s 9,500 personnel include 300 women. The order of battle encompasses the 601 and 602 Aviation Brigades; 603 Aviation Training Command; the Air Transport Battalion; 101 Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion; Airborne Special Service Company (ASSC); and Special Forces Command, which contains the 862 and 871 Airborne Groups, each with three battalions.

The 603 will be activated as a combat aviation brigade during times of war, an ASFC official said.

The ASSC just celebrated its 30th anniversary, a member said, noting there are 150 personnel and the unit “is similar to the U.S. Army’s Delta Force.”

Airborne Special Service Company

The 101’s “Army Frogmen” handle outer-island special operations on Kinmen, Matsu, Penghu and Dongyin. The battalion is one of the most notable and oldest special operations units in Taiwan and traces its history to the Cold War, where it earned its reputation for coastal infiltration of China’s Fujian province.

ASFC forces are equipped with the older static line-deployed T-10B parachutes, but “we hope to replace all of them” with the newer T-11 Non-Maneuverable Canopy Personnel Parachute System now used by the U.S. military, an ASFC officer said. The ASFC also uses the MC1-1B steerable parachute and MT-1X ram air-pressurized gliding canopy parachute for special jumps. Members are armed with the new Taiwan-built 5.56mm T91 assault rifle and 7.62mm T74 machine gun.

The ASFC also provides airborne training for the Marine Corps’ elite Special Service Company. The Marines also have two amphibious reconnaissance patrol units responsible for special operations missions.

Taiwan has been modernizing its aviation capabilities with new helicopters.

The 601 and 602 are preparing to take delivery of 30 Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters and 60 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters. These will gradually replace aging Bell UH-1H Huey utility copters procured during the 1970s and supplement two squadrons of Bell AH-1W SuperCobras in service since the 1990s.

In 2003, the Air Transport Battalion took delivery of nine Boeing CH-47SD Chinooks, which replaced three B-234s, civilian variants of the Chinook.

In February, Taiwan’s Air Force announced a decision to buy three Eurocopter EC225 helicopters for search-and-rescue missions. The $111 million deal includes an option for 17 additional helicopters.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Japan To Seek More Subs, Fighters

Defense News


Japan To Seek More Subs, Fighters

Defense Policy Overhaul Includes Acquisition Reform


TAIPEI — Japan’s new 10-year defense policy calls for more fighter jets and submarines, fewer tanks, and a wary eye on China, North Korea and Russia.

Released Dec. 17 by Japan’s Cabinet, the long-awaited policy revision also calls for procurement reforms and industrial-base goals.

“Japan will procure equipment more efficiently by improving its contract and procurement system” and will “set out medium­and/or long-term strategy to maintain and develop defense production capabilities,” the National Defense Policy Guidelines (NDPG) said.

Some industry officials hoped the guidelines would recommend an overhaul of the 1967 three principles of arms exports, but this appears to have been toned down in the final draft. The principles say Japan shall not export arms to countries that are Communist, under a U.N. arms exports embargo, or involved in international conflicts.

But a Tokyo-based U.S. defense industry source said any effort to reform Japan’s arms export and manufacturing policies would be “a welcome relief.” Japan’s defense industry has “been banging the drum for years” for reform, the source said. “One of the reasons costs are so high for the production of arms is that they can’t export anything.” He said Japan needs to rethink the ban on exporting defense items, particularly components in high demand in the U.S. defense market.

“Defense items U.S. manufacturers no longer produce are still in production in Japan,” he said. The guidelines say change is necessary in light of a “global shift in the balance of power” with the “rise of emerging powers and relative change in the U.S. influence.” Among the issues of growing concern are Chinese military modernization, North Korean nuclear weapon development, increases in Russian military activity, cyber warfare and terrorism.

In response, the guidelines recommend cutting “Cold War-style” equipment such as tanks, whose numbers would be cut by one-third to about 400. But the 16-boat sub fleet should be boosted to 22, and purchases increased of fighters, air defense systems, anti-ship missiles. Forces should be reshaped as well, emphasizing rapid-reaction forces, particularly maritime and amphibious units, and improvements made to over-the-shore logistics and joint operations.

In part, the NDPG reflects a reorientation of military strategy and forces from Hokkaido Island in the north to the outer islands in the south, particularly in defense of Okinawa and the Senkakus.

The guidelines say Japan’s policy­makers and military will shift their focus to “gray zones,” defined as confrontations over territory, sovereignty and economic interests.

The guidelines repeatedly emphasizes the threat of an “attack on Japan’s offshore islands,” a reference to recent disputes with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Japan is officially recognizing that China will continue to make claims on the Senkakus and that “strong emotions of Chinese nationalism are fed by those claims,” said Peter Woolley, a Japan defense specialist and author of book, “Geography and Japan’s Strategic Choices.” The Chinese refer to the chain as the Diaoyutai Islands, and there has been a steady increase in Chinese naval activity in the area over the past five years.

In September, a Chinese fishing vessel collided with a Japanese Coast Guard ship near the islands. Beijing protested the arrest of the crew and stepped up rhetoric over its territorial claims.

Though the NDPG reflects continuity, there are number of changes that reveal a new consensus that is crucial to successful defense policy development, Woolley said.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Newsmakers: Patrick Choy, Executive VP of International Marketing, ST Engineering

Defense News


Newsmakers: Patrick Choy, Executive VP of International Marketing, ST Engineering

Singapore’s leading defense manufacturer, Singapore Technology (ST) Engineering, has been expanding into the world market, securing sales to Britain of the new Warthog Bronco all-terrain tracked carrier and developing more sophisticated unmanned systems. ST Engineering is actually a group divided into four sectors: ST Aerospace, ST Electronics, ST Land Systems (also called ST Kinetics) and ST Marine. 

Q. Where do you see ST Engineering going in the next few years in defense exports? 

A. We see new opportunities in heightened security needs and the transformation of the Army in areas such as homeland security, disaster relief, intelligent systems, unmanned technologies, solutions for greater connectivity, precision capabilities and less-than-lethal solutions. 

Q. Do you see the world defense export market shrinking as national budgets continue to be cut because of the recession? 

A. The trend of reduced defense spending is likely to continue, but this does not mean that the role of the armed forces and their capabilities are reduced. Conflicts and territorial disputes still exist, and armed forces must now find new approaches, innovative ways to perform their roles. Smaller budgets would mean fewer capital buys, and this could give rise to new requirements for upgrades and retrofitting of existing equipment; new capabilities that can be added to existing equipment; and reducing the logistics/manpower through automation and robotics for “dull, dirty and dangerous” tasks.

Military operations, as we know it, have also changed. There is increasing involvement by armed forces in new areas, such as homeland security and disaster relief. 

Q. Did the U.K. sale affect ST’s confidence? 

A. Warthog was a breakthrough for ST Engineering as it is the first time a major world army has procured armored combat vehicles from Southeast Asia. The contract has also raised the overall profile of ST Engineering as a credible defense player in the global marketplace. 

Q. What changes have been instituted to explain this success and what are the challenges for the future? 

A. The challenges facing today’s forces are increasingly diverse and complex, require a multidisciplinary and multi-organizational approach. Leveraging our unique position to provide commercial and defense customers with solutions for air, land and sea, ST Engineering is able to look at the needs of our customers holistically, integrated across platform and system domains, to provide cutting-edge system-centric solutions. 

Q. Is ST Engineering working on any new products that excite you? 

A. Last month, Skyblade III, Singapore’s first locally developed mini UAV, was used for the first time by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in an operational exercise. The Sky­blade III was created through collaboration between the SAF, the DSO National Laboratories, ST Aerospace and the Defense Science and Technology Agency.

Another unmanned innovation is the Venus unmanned surface vehicle, a 9-meter vessel adaptable to fulfilling the needs of a range of naval and security missions. Its modular design concept enables multiple missions through different payload modules.

The Endurance series of Landing Platform Docks is a multipurpose and multirole ship, purpose­fully designed for naval and civilian operations.

By Wendell Minnick in Taipei.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Taiwan Readies Mass Production of Cruise Missiles

Defense News


Taiwan Readies Mass Production of Cruise Missiles


TAIPEI - Taiwan is preparing for the mass production of the Hsiung Feng 2E (HF-2E) land attack cruise missile (LACM) and the Hsiung Feng 3 (HF-3) anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM).

Taiwan's Deputy Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang told legislators on Nov. 8 that production for the two missiles had already begun. Chao made the comments during questioning by the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and Defense Committee. In response to a question about the missiles by legislator Lin Yu-fang of the ruling party Kuomintang (KMT), Chao said the programs, code-named the Chichun (Lance Hawk) and Chuifeng (Chasing Wind), were "progressing smoothly."

An official with the Ministry of National Defense (MND) clarified the confusion over the designations used to describe the programs. "The code names are changed every year or two for security reasons." The Chichun is the HF-2E and the Chuifeng is the HF-3, he said. The source also corrected some media reports that indicated Chao had stated "mass production" had begun. "A few have been produced and could be fielded in case of war," the MND source said.

The military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) produces the Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) missile family, which includes the HF-1 and HF-2 anti-ship missiles. CSIST is the primary research and development organization for the military. It is also developing a new air-defense missile system, Tien Kung 3 (Sky Bow 3), comparable to the Patriot PAC-2 air-defense system.

The HF-3 ASCM was unveiled to the public during the 2007 Ten-Ten (Oct. 10) Parade in Taipei. Defense News later sighted it in January 2008 being outfitted on the1101 Cheng Kung, a Perry-class frigate, at the weapons loading dock at Tsoying Naval Base, Kaohsiung. It was later spotted again on the same frigate earlier this year during a base visit.

The HF-2E LACM has been a source of controversy between Taipei and Washington.

There has been pressure by the U.S. to kill the program, according to a Taiwan defense analyst based in Taipei.

However, China continues to deploy more short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) and new cruise missiles along its coast targeting Taiwan. The only alternative is to deploy a counter response to that threat, he said. China currently has roughly 1,300 to 1,500 SRBMs aimed at the island. Taiwan has no offensive missile capability.

The HF-2E could "be a tactical deterrent and strategic bargaining chip in possible military confidence-building measures" with China, said the analyst.

"Should military conflict become unavoidable, firing LACMs from Taiwan could indirectly give the U.S. some flexibility in diplomatic terms," he said. If the U.S. continues to insist Taiwan not have any offensive capability the burden for ground strikes on the Chinese mainland are placed directly on the shoulders of the U.S. military, the analyst said.

China Looks at Space Plane

Defense News


China Looks at Space Plane

Four Hypersonic Aircraft Concepts Unveiled at Airshow


TAIPEI — China’s aviation industry is nurturing the design of stealthy, hypersonic combat aircraft that might fly beyond the borders of space.

Revealed at the recent 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (2010 Zhuhai Airshow), the winners of the 4th National Future Aircraft Design Competition were the Merlin fighter-bomber, SkyNet airship, Wolf Rider unmanned combat aircraft and the Shadow Dragon unmanned bomber. Though the four design concepts are well beyond China’s technical capabilities and “smack of science fiction fantasy,” all four represent a real effort on the part of the People’s Liberation Army to militarize space, said Ian Easton, a specialist in Chinese aeronautics at the Washington-based Project 2049 Institute.

Easton said a lot of intellectual capital and time went into the designs.
“Clearly, the PLA is demonstrating a well­developed interest in a hypersonic near­space platform here — something you could also refer to as a space plane,” he said.

Sponsored by China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC), the contest gave two first prizes to Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU), China’s top aeronautics research institute, and two second prizes to the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Engineering College, the PLAAF’s top aeronautics school.

The designers made numerous references to Boeing’s unmanned X-51 scramjet, said to be able to hit speeds up to Mach 6.

Another analyst, Richard Fisher with the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the design contest indicates an effort by China’s defense industry to encourage “future gazing … which as we know from our experience leads to efforts that achieve real advances.”

Easton said that the vehicles represent many of the “most troubling aspects of China’s military modernization program, in the sense that, like China’s ongoing ballistic missile and cruise missiles programs, they would all be highly destabilizing and could be used for both conventional and nuclear attack roles.” 


“China urgently needs a new bomber for the 21st century,” the NPU team wrote in their contest entry, citing limitations with the H-6 medium-range bomber and JH-7 fighter­bomber.

So they designed their Merlin twin-engine near-space hypersonic fighter-bomber to perform reconnaissance, precision strikes, and attacks on satellites and spacecraft in low Earth orbit.

The designers drew on existing technologies such a “pneumatic bionic design” that allows the wings to bend slightly “like a bird.” They also admitted borrowing from the Boeing 787 wing design.

Wing-body integration, a rear intake, oblique shape and radar-absorbent composite materials help make the aircraft stealthy. The engines also have “two-dimensional nozzles” giving it more maneuverability. Technical specifications include a speed of Mach 6, combat radius of 5,000 miles and 22,000-pound payload. 


The PLAAF’s SkyNet looks nothing like the other near-space designs; it proposes an airship that rides to space atop a ballistic missile, then divides into a “hexagonal structure” and inflates using hydrogen and nitrogen.

Its designers say SkyNet could handle battlefield reconnaissance and surveillance, mapping, communications relay, early warning and command, electronic warfare, and targeting for laser-guided bombs.

Also, they say, the aircraft could be armed with a “laser for self-defense.” SkyNet is delivered into near space using a conventional ballistic missile.

“The SkyNet concept as outlined is bold but will require real advances in materials and propulsion in order to produce a large enough space platform for the suggested small launch package,” Fisher said. One day, he said, a SkyNet-like platform could “provide a vital force multiplier.” 

Wolf Rider 

The NPU’s unmanned Wolf Rider design uses three propulsion methods: a scramjet, pulse detonation and a reusable tri-rocket. Missions would include reconnaissance and launching “hypersonic cruise missiles” with a range of 1,800 miles.

The Wolf Rider itself would fly up to 13,000 miles and reach a maximum speed of 6.5 Mach. The aircraft was described as a “deterrent” to potential adversaries and for protection of “national dignity.” 

Shadow Dragon 

Perhaps the most complex design was PLAAF’s hypersonic near-space unmanned bomber, intended to modify its structure as it shifts from low speeds to supersonic.

To accelerate to its top speed of Mach 15, it “throws away the host wings.” Primarily intended for strategic bombing, the aircraft might also be used for reconnaissance, early warning, electronic and information warfare, communications relay, command and control, and space defense missions.

The craft might be armed with lasers, microwave weapons and kinetic arms that could hit targets on earth or in orbit.

“Shadow Dragon is a new stage in the PLAAF’s combat design thinking. Its main operational goal is a global quick strike ca­pability,” said the paper’s authors, thus providing a deterrence capability. “If necessary, it can also enter orbit in space and re-enter into near space at ultra-high speeds to close in on a target.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Options Limited on N. Korea

Defense News


Options Limited on N. Korea


SEOUL and TAIPEI — A North Korean artillery barrage on the remote South Korean island of Yeonpyeong and revelations of a new uranium enrichment facility last week have shaken Seoul and Washington.

a U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington (CVN 73), is moving into the area as part of continuing exercises started in response to the North Korean sinking in March of the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy corvette. The sinking, which killed more than 40 sailors, and the artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong that killed four, are turning 2010 into one of the most violent years since the Korean War ended in 1953.

There are fears this is “only the beginning of similar North Korean provocations over the coming year or so,” said Bruce Bennett, a Northeast Asia defense analyst at the Rand Corp. The artillery attack and revelations of a new uranium enrichment facility appear to have “been part of a well-planned effort” to bring South Korea and the U.S. to the negotiating table.

There are also fears North Korea will conduct its third nuclear test, he said.

Despite threats by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to attack a missile facility near the North Korean artillery base, there are few retaliatory military options that do not risk escalation.

Seoul is constrained by the same factors that hindered a strong response to North Korea’s attack on the Cheonan, said Bruce Klingner, a former CIA analyst on North Korea, now with the Heritage Foundation. There are legitimate fears that even a “limited retaliatory attack could degenerate into an all-out conflagration,” Klingner said.

North Korea has “escalation dominance” that allows them to up the ante in any conflict with the South, said Mark Fitzpatrick, who runs the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

South Korea has far too much to lose in any military escalation with North Korea, Fitzpatrick said. Seoul, well within artillery range of the North, is a financial powerhouse in Asia. In contrast, Pyongyang’s economic foundation has crumbled and the government is desperate for assistance.

Pyongyang’s long-running strategy of alternating provocation and conciliatory behavior has consistently thrown Washington diplomats off balance, Klingner said.

However, the increasing violence also heralds desperation within Pyongyang’s leaders as the economic situation deteriorates. They might launch a limited “diversionary war” to tamp down political dissent against North Korea’s paramount leader Kim Jong-il, now reportedly ill and dying, Bennett said.

There are also fears that Kim’s death will touch off a power struggle. Kim’s son, Kim Jong-un, is heir apparent, but military hardliners may see him as too young and inexperienced.

Ken Quinones, a North Korean specialist and former U.S. State Department official, said Kim Jong-il’s ill health and desire to encourage the military to accept his son as heir might have influenced his decision to allow the Nov. 23 bombardment. “As for Kim Jong-il, Pyongyang’s apparently erratic behavior is not a consequence of Kim’s ‘irrationality,’” he said. “If anything, Pyongyang’s split behavior appears to be a consequence of a deeply divided civilian-military leadership headed by an increasingly weak leader.” 

China’s Lethargic Response

Hopes that China would lean on Pyongyang after the Cheonan incident have been largely dashed.

The Nov. 23 artillery attack occurred the same day as a meeting with Beijing officials by Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy. Both sides discussed the North Korean problem in a “candid, in-depth manner” with pledges for an “early reopening of the six-party talks,” said a Chinese Foreign Ministry press release. There was no condemnation of the attack by Chinese officials.

“China has shown itself to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution,” Klingner said. Beijing is unwilling to be the “responsible stakeholder that many had hoped it would be.” North Korean behavior will no doubt overshadow the planned visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to the U.S. in early 2011, and distract from China’s goals of pressuring the White House to curb arms sales to Taiwan and recognize its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

China will not punish North Korea, despite being annoyed by the timing of the attack and revelations of a new nuclear facility, said Bonnie Glaser, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Glaser said Beijing’s priority is to preserve “peace and stability” in North Korea, which it views as a strategic asset, Glaser said.

She said China is taking a paternal approach to North Korea, convinced Pyongyang will eventually implement Chinese-style economic reforms.

“Even when your child misbehaves, you must encourage it to do the right thing, but it is still your child,” she said.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

China Developing Armed/Recon UAVs

Defense News


China Developing Armed/Recon UAVs


ZHUHAI, China - China is making inroads in the development of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as was evident at last week's 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (2010 Zhuhai Airshow).

The biennial air show and defense exhibition coincided with the release of a critical report on China's military to the U.S. Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The annual report indicates China is developing a "variety of medium- and high-altitude long-endurance" UAVs that will include "options for long-range reconnaissance and strike" missions.

The Zhuhai Airshow provided plenty of examples of China's efforts in developing combat UAVs.


The China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC) displayed a model of the new Pterodactyl I UAV. Similar in configuration to as the U.S.-built Raptor, the model was equipped with an unidentified air-to-ground missile under each wing. The 9nine-meter-long UAV has a wingspan of 13 meters and a fuselage width of 1 meter. Performance capabilities include a range of 4,000 kilometers, an endurance of 20 hours, maximum speed of 280 kilometers per hour and a maximum altitude of 5,000 meters. It was also outfitted with a sensor turret under the nose.

AVIC also displayed a model of the TL-8 training drone capable of simulating second- and third-generation fighter aircraft and cruise missiles. According to an AVIC brochure, the drone can operate at 0.85 Mach with a maximum flight time of 40 minutes.

The company also displayed models of two short-range fixed winged reconnaissance UAVs - Night Eagle and SW-1. Both have an operational flight time of three hours. AVIC also provided information on the new ducted-fan Whirlwind Scout. Capable of vertical takeoff and landing, the Scout has a 20-40 minute operational endurance.

AVIC also displayed four examples of its YY Series multipurpose electro-optical and multisensor turrets. The stabilized turrets allow for a variety of surveillance and reconnaissance missions, including tracking, identification, observation, range measurement, and aiming and target designation of marine, ground and air targets. The YY Series brochure showed turrets outfitted on two different unidentified UAVs and one manned helicopter.


The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) displayed a full-scale model of an armed CH-3 UAV with air-to-ground missiles. The model was also outfitted with a sensor turret. According to a CASC brochure, the multipurpose UAV is capable of battlefield reconnaissance, fire adjustment, data relay, intelligence collection, ground-strike missions and electronic warfare (EW) missions.

"It can be modified as an unmanned attack platform to carry small precision guided weapons for performing reconnaissance/strike missions." The CH-3 has a cruising speed of 220 kilometers per hour, 12-hour maximum endurance and a 200 kilometer communications radius.

A model of the CASC CH-803 multipurpose UAV was also on display. The aircraft can perform battlefield reconnaissance, fire adjustment, intelligence collection and EW. Parameters include a cruising speed of 80-110 kilometers per hour, five-hour endurance and a communications radius of 50 kilometers.

CASC also provided new data on UAV-related products, including the "TH Mini Precise Attack Missile" for air-to-ground strike missions and the new CP-04 motor for the SK-200 turbofan-propelled UAV booster.

The "TH Mini" can be outfitted on light UAVs and be used to target stationary or low-velocity moving ground targets. The missile, armed with a 5-kilogram blast fragmentation warhead, has a maximum range of 3.2 kilometers at 277 meters per second. Guidance modes include an inertial navigation system and charge coupled-device system.

The 13 kilogram CP-04 motor "gives a boost for the UAV during take-off" then separates and falls to the ground. The motor design has been completed and batch production will soon begin, said a CASC brochure.


No armed reconnaissance UAV received more attention than the WJ-600. Produced by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC), the jet-powered, multimission UAV was shown in a CASIC video locating a U.S. aircraft carrier and sending targeting information for a follow-on anti-ship cruise missile attack.

The WJ-600 can conduct "informationized warfare," said a CASIC display. It can be outfitted with a synthetic aperture radar, electro-optical and multisensor turret, information relay and a variety of weapons. Weapons on display included the air-to-ground KD-2 missile and two weapons with the designation "TBI" and "ZD1," which were not clearly described. Operational parameters were not provided.

Another CASIC UAV on exhibit was a stealthy tailless flying wing configuration, the SH-1. The aircraft, outfitted with a sensor turret, can perform battlefield reconnaissance, target identification and positioning, and "strike effect assessments." The SH-1 appears to be a short-range UAV with limited capabilities, though no operational parameters were provided.


The largest exhibit of UAVs was by ASN Technology Group, a company solely dedicated to UAV development and production. ASN provided new details about the ASN-229A "Reconnaissance and Precise Attack" UAV. A display of a model of the aircraft indicates it can perform reconnaissance and has a "mini precise guidance weapon system."

However, the maximum mission payload is only 100 kilograms and it is unlikely to be able to carry a weapon. The ASN-229A will have a take-off weight of 800 kilograms and a cruising speed of 160-180 kilometers per hour with an endurance of 20 hours.

China Unveils Lead-in Fighter Trainer; Carrier Variant Next?

Defense News


China Unveils Lead-in Fighter Trainer; Carrier Variant Next?


ZHUHAI, China — China has unveiled its first lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) aircraft for fourth-generation training at the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Zhuhai Airshow 2010), China’s biggest commercial and defense aviation show.

About 70 aircraft from 35 countries and more than 600 domestic and foreign exhibitors showcased their products, including flight demonstrations by aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and the Pakistan Air Force.

The twin-engine supersonic trainer is the latest of three variants of the L-15 Hunting Eagle produced by Hongdu Aviation, a subsidiary of the China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC). The L-15 LIFT demonstrated a variety of aerial maneuvers at the show, which ran from Nov. 16-21 in China’s southeastern province of Guangdong.

AVIC and Hongdu officials provided new details about the aircraft during a joint press conference here. An AVIC official did not rule out a potential carrier-based variant in the future. Depending on the requirements of the Chinese military, “we will do our best,” said Li Yuhai, AVIC Defense deputy president.

China’s aircraft carrier ambitions are in full steam as refurbishment of the former Soviet carrier, the Varyag, continues at Dalian Shipyard. China has faced difficulties acquiring aircraft for carrier missions. Russia has repeatedly rejected Chinese offers to buy Su-33 fighters. An L-15 carrier trainer variant might serve in a variety of roles, including attack and reconnaissance missions.

Designed and built by Hongdu, the debut of the LIFT variant follows the unveiling in 2009 of the L­15 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) at the Dubai Air Show. AVIC is attempting to enter the international fighter trainer market and is pushing the AJT, LIFT and a “companion variant” as possible competitors against the Russian Yak-130, Korean KAI T-50 Golden Eagle and Italian Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master trainers.

The L-15 LIFT conducted its first flight Oct. 20, said the L-15’s chief architect, Zhang Hong, Hongdu vice general manager. The new trainer was re-engineered with more powerful Ivenchenko after­burning engines. The earlier L-15 ADT has “nonafterburner” engines, he said.

The new Ukrainian-built engine allows for a better thrust-weight ratio. It was designed specifically for the L-15, and “we have good cooperation with Ukraine on the L-15 program,” he said. The new engines give the LIFT variant better maneuverability than many third­generation fighters, he said.

During the flight demonstration at Zhuhai, the L-15 LIFT demonstrated a short takeoff and loop at full afterburner, a high banking turn, low-speed level flight, continuous roll, and vertical and horizontal maneuvering capability. The aircraft can take off in less than 300 meters, Zhang said.

The nose section of the LIFT variant has been modified to accommodate a phased array radar. The glass cockpit has one head-up display and three multifunction displays, which allow the LIFT variant to better simulate a fourth­generation fighter.

It is clear that AVIC is enthusiastic about its export potential.

“We can deliver this aircraft in two years’ time from the date of contract,” Li said.

Ukraine was mentioned as a possible export customer.

In comparison to competitor aircraft, the L-15 can perform as a trainer or in a combat role, including attack and reconnaissance, he said.

“As a trainer it must be safe and reliable,” Zhang said. “This aircraft has low fuel consumption and a long service life, which makes it economical.” AVIC has produced a variety of aircraft for the export market, including the JF-17/FC-1 fighter and K-8 trainer in a co-development program with Pakistan.

The Pakistan Air Force flew both the K-8 and JF-17 during demonstration flights at Zhuhai. One of the JF-17s on display was armed with AVIC-built weapons, including the SD-10 medium-range air-to­air missile, C802A anti-ship missile and SL-6 glide bomb.

Pakistan officials at the airshow would not confirm reports that 250 JF-17 fighters would be outfitted with the SD-10 air-to-air missile.

China Displays Booming Industry at Show

Defense News


China Displays Booming Industry at Show


ZHUHAI, China — China’s aviation and defense industry pulled out the stops for the eighth edition of the Zhuhai air show, which is becoming a leading international aviation and defense exhibition.

Held Nov. 16-21 in China’s southeastern province of Guangdong, the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition broke its own attendance records, with displays from more than 600 domestic and foreign exhibitors.

Underscoring the show’s rising importance to Beijing, Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang officially opened the show and toured exhibition halls.

Chinese companies and government institutions took the lion’s share of booths with 180. Chinese companies displayed a variety of anti-ship cruise missiles, multi­launch rocket systems and more than 25 UAVs.

China’s biggest aerospace and defense aviation company, China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC), accounted for more than 70 of the stands, showing new bombs, missiles, electronic warfare systems, UAVs, fighter aircraft and commercial aviation products.

Numerous Chinese booths featured artists’ renderings of sophisticated attacks on U.S. aircraft carriers. One video on display showed a Chinese UAV finding an aircraft carrier task force and relaying targeting information for a Chinese assault by anti-ship cruise missiles.

Still, the show was dominated by commercial aviation, and U.S. and European companies pushing into China’s civil market appeared undaunted by the suggestions that China’s defense aviation industry considers the United States the primary target of its products.

Forty-two U.S. companies had booths at the show, including Boeing, Honeywell Aerospace, Kallman, Moog, Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell Collins, Sikorsky Aircraft and United Technologies. GE Aviation had both a booth and a chalet. None displayed military equipment, aiming their pitches instead at China’s skyrocketing civil aviation market.

The commercial airline and cargo aircraft market is projected to be around $500 billion in the next two decades. China is buying U.S. and European airliners but also developing domestic airliners.

The ARJ-21, China’s newest airliner, was on exhibit. A full-scale mockup of the C919 airliner was on display, and sources indicate the plane will make its first flight in 2014.

French companies are pushing hard into the aviation market. Airbus showcased its A380 jumbo airliner and the new A330-200F freighter. Safran and AVIC signed a general strategic partnership agreement that will expand the scope of collaboration between the two groups, said a Safran press release. Turbomeca, under Safran, is developing an engine, the WZ16, with China’s Dongan to power both commercial and military helicopter variants of the Avicopter Z-15.

Engine development is still a serious challenge for China’s aviation industry. It continues to procure Russian and Ukrainian engines for many of its helicopters and fighter jets, including the L-15 Lead-In Fighter Trainer and the J-10, J-11 and JF-17/FC-1.

China’s “aviation industrial barons are pursuing an ambitious strategy to build an internationally competitive, innovative and comprehensive aviation design and manufacturing base,” said Tai Ming Cheung, a China defense industry specialist at the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California.

He said China’s aviation industry has experienced a renaissance, and is “reaping record profits” from new orders, developing advanced aircraft, and forging business and technology ties with international aviation companies.

About 70 aircraft from 35 countries were on display. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) August 1st Aerobatics Team conducted flight demonstrations of the new J-10 fighter, and there were static displays of the JH-7A fighter­bomber, J-8F fighter, H-6 medium­range bomber, KJ-200 “balance beam” airborne early warning aircraft, and Z-9WA and Z-8KA helicopters.

The Pakistan Air Force flew the JF-17/FC-1 fighter and K-8 trainer in demonstration flights. Both aircraft were jointly developed by China and Pakistan. The JF-17 on static display was outfitted with Chinese weapons, including the SD-10 medium-range air-to-air mis­sile, the GB1 laser-guided bomb, the LS-6 glide bomb and the C802A anti-ship cruise missile.

Among other events, AVIC and Hongdu Aviation unveiled their L-15 Lead-In Flight Trainer for the export market. The L-15 conducted a demonstration flight, and AVIC officials gave a rare press conference.

The day before the show opened, the PLAAF held the Military Flight Training Conference 2010, which emphasized future pilot training trends. Representatives from 20 countries attended, including AVIC President Lin Zuoming and Lt. Gen. He Weirong, the PLAAF’s deputy commander.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Zhuhai Airshow Goes Unmanned

Defense News

Zhuhai Airshow Goes Unmanned



ZHUHAI, China - Chinese commercial and defense aviation companies are exhibiting more than 25 UAV models at the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Zhuhai Airshow 2010).

That is a record number of UAVs, according to show officials, and continuing evidence of China's growing interest in unmanned technology.

Some of the UAVs will serve as combat and battlefield reconnaissance roles. In one video, a UAV locates a U.S. aircraft carrier and relays the information for a follow-on attack by Chinese anti-ship missiles.

About 70 aircraft from 35 countries and more than 600 domestic and foreign exhibitors are showcasing their wares at Zhuhai in China's southeastern province of Guangdong. The show is China's biggest aerospace and aviation show and will run from Nov. 16-21.

Three Chinese companies - ASN Technology Group, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC), and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) produced most of the UAVs on display.

ASN Technology is the largest UAV production company in China, with a history of developing unmanned aerial platforms, including drones, since 1958, said a company press release. The primary customer is the Chinese military and the company controls more than 90 percent of the UAV market in China.

A company spokesperson said ASN works closely with the Northwestern Polytechnical University's UAV Institute.

ASN showed off 10 different UAVs, including the new ASN-211 Flapping Wing Aircraft System, which simulates a bird in flight. The prototype on display has a take-off weight of only 220 grams with a maximum speed of six-to-10 meters a second and an altitude ranging from 20-200 meters. A spokesperson said the micro-UAV would mainly be used for low-altitude reconnaissance for troops in the field.

The largest UAV on display by the company was the ASN-229A Reconnaissance and Precise Attack UAV. Equipped with a satellite data link, it can perform aerial reconnaissance, battlefield surveys, target location and artillery fire adjustment during the day or night. It has a take-off weight of 800 kilograms and a cruising speed of 160-180 kilometers per hour with an endurance of 20 hours.

Though ASN had the most UAVs on display, the most sophisticated unmanned platforms are being produced by CASIC and CASC. Both companies displayed models designed not only to locate the target, but also to destroy it.

CASC displayed the CH-3 multipurpose medium-range UAV system suitable for battlefield reconnaissance, artillery fire adjustment, data relay and electronic warfare. A company official said the CH-3 could be modified as an attack platform carrying small precision-guided weapons. Weapons outfitted on the display included two air-to-ground missiles similar in configuration to the U.S.-built Hellfire.

CASIC took the prize for UAVs capable of intimidating the U.S. military. These included the jet-powered WJ-600. In a CASIC video, the WJ-600 identifies a U.S. aircraft carrier and relays targeting information for a Chinese assault by anti-ship cruise missiles.

The UAV can handle a variety of payloads, including weapons, synthetic aperture radar, electronic warfare equipment and data relay systems. Air-to-ground weapons featured with the WJ-600 include the Hellfire-like KD-2 and two unidentified weapons - the TBI and ZD1.

Other UAVs displays included a little-known company called Zhuhai X.Y. Aviation, which exhibited two new reconnaissance platforms, the 200-kilogram Blue Arrow (UR-J1-001) and 40 kilogram Sky Eyes (UR-C2-008). A company spokesperson said there were three prototypes of the Blue Arrow now being test-flown and that the prop-driven engine was from an unidentified "German company."

The company had produced two prototypes of the Sky Eyes now being test flown.

China Preps To Showcase Air Power at Zhuhai Show

Defense News

China Preps To Showcase Air Power at Zhuhai Show



Zhuhai, China - About 70 aircraft from 35 countries and more than 600 domestic and foreign exhibitors are showcasing their wares at China's biggest aerospace and aviation show, the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Zhuhai Airshow), beginning Nov. 16 in the southeastern province of Guangdong.

The biennial aviation exhibition has become a must-see for foreign defense officials and academic analysts seeking information on China's opaque defense industry and military establishment. The show is unlikely to disappoint, with displays of new UAVs, missile and rocket systems, and other equipment not seen before.

Journalists were allowed a preshow visit Nov. 15.

There were several detailed artist renderings of anti-ship cruise missiles destroying a U.S. aircraft carrier. Two displays by the China Aerospace and Science and Technology Corp. demonstrated how using aerial reconnaissance from UAVs and Beidou satellite communication and navigation satellites could coordinate an anti-ship cruise missile assault from aircraft, surface ships, submarines and land-based coastal batteries.

The show is operated by the government-owned, commercially run Zhuhai Airshow Co. and sponsored by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), Civil Aviation Administration, China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC) and a variety of defense and commercial aviation industries and supporters.

Foreign commercial aviation and defense companies exhibiting this year include Airbus, AgustaWestland, Bombardier, GE Aviation, Irkut, Pratt and Whitney, Rolls-Royce, Rosoboronexport, Sikorsky, Sukhoi Aviation and Thales.

A new U.S. exhibitor this year is Moog, and Honeywell is returning to the show after a long absence, show officials said.

Asian exhibitors are low-keyed at the show, but include the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies and Korea Aerospace Industries Assoc.

The PLAAF is showcasing a wide range of aircraft, including the Kongjing-200 advanced warning and control system aircraft, H-6 medium-range bomber and JH-7 and J-10 fighters. The service's August 1st aerobatics team will be flying six J-10s.

AVIC will show off the new L-15 advanced jet trainer. Sources at the show indicate that a new supersonic version of the L-15 has been developed.

The Pakistan Air Force will participate with flying displays of the JF-17 Thunder fighter and K-8 jet fighter trainer.

The JF-17 is a joint development program between the Chinese and Pakistan governments. The Pakistan Air Force's Sherdils aerobatic team will make its show debut with nine K-8s.

There are a number of seminars and conferences, mostly dealing with commercial aviation issues. The Military Flight Training Conference, jointly sponsored by the PLAAF and AVIC, ran from Nov. 14-15, with attendance from various countries, according to a show press release, but journalists were not allowed to attend.

"The main themes of the conference will concentrate on the pilot training from a future perspective," the release stated.

19th-Century Strategist Shapes China’s Navy 

Defense News


19th-Century Strategist Shapes China’s Navy 


TAIPEI — China is building a navy that will soon begin challenging U.S. dominance in maritime Asia, according to a new five-year study released by the U.S. Naval War College (NWC).

Written by NWC’s Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes, “Red Star Over the Pacific” draws on Chinese­language material by strategists from China’s top military academies and institutions.

The report provides an “in-depth treatment of the single-most conventional strategic challenge of the future: the naval rise of China,” said Robert Kaplan, an analyst at the Center for a New American Century and author of “Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power.” The co-authors of the report said the U.S. “needs to think seriously about its side of the interactive relationship with China if it is to sustain a strategic position that has benefited itself and Asia for many decades.”

China’s maritime capacity, measured by hardware but also in seamanship and warfighting skills, “has reached a point where Chinese strategists’ theorizing will be put to the test,” the report said.

Chinese strategists have become obsessed by Alfred Mahan, a U.S. naval strategist who defined U.S. geostrategic maritime thought at the turn of the 20th century, and have followed his precepts to build an increasingly formidable People’s Liberation Army Navy, the report said. Mahan wrote that a nation’s power is defined by its ability to control choke points, island facilities, commercial waterways and other strategic points.

China is clearly testing the commitment of U.S. forces by probing for weaknesses in areas it considers vital under Mahanian law.

Three recent examples of Chinese attempts to induce the U.S. to commit militarily illustrate the problem, the report said. These include the 2001 EP-3 surveillance plane incident near Hainan Island, the breach of Japanese territorial waters in 2004 by a Han-class nuclear attack submarine, and Chinese harassment of the survey ship USNS Impeccable in 2009 near Hainan. 

Taiwan: A Springboard? 

Taiwan is the key to continued U.S. naval dominance of the region, the report said. Losing Taiwan to China would end Washington’s ability to protect sea lines of communication and would endanger allies.

“The sea and air combat radii from bases on Taiwan would reach the flanks of Japan and the Philippines,” the report said.

As a U.S.-leaning, self-governing entity, the island — along with its “first island chain” co-members Japan and the Philippines — are a “great wall in reverse” that hems in Chinese action, according to Chinese naval strategists.

Citing Mahan, they argue that China must overcome this barrier if it is to secure greater territorial control in the Pacific and South China Sea.

Respected Chinese naval specialist Jiang Yu argues that the solution is to take control of Taiwan, transfer forces to its air and naval bases, and turn the “Gibraltar of the East” into a springboard to the South China Sea and the Pacific.

This will allow China to “build absolute control over the adjacent sea areas,” Chinese strategists say, according to the report.

A Taiwan defense analyst said Taiwan’s air bases and naval facilities, largely built by the U.S. during the Cold War, are the best in the region. Hualian air base on the east coast includes an underground aircraft shelter inside a hollowed-out mountain.

Taiwan’s coastline along the Pacific plummets quickly into the abyss. A submarine base placed along the east coast, possibly at Suao, would give the Chinese Navy unprecedented access to the Pacific and create a serious challenge for the U.S. Navy, said the Taiwan analyst.

Moreover, said one Taiwan defense analyst who read the report, Beijing might turn Taiwan’s Navy into a proxy power to enforce territorial claims that Beijing felt politically uncomfortable with, such as the Spratly and Senkaku islands.

The report said some Chinese strategists even see Taiwan as a platform to attack U.S. positions in the Pacific, including Guam.