Warplanes: Chinese Stealth Fighter Ready


Date:2020-10-03 Source:strategypage By:Globalmil Viewed:

October 2, 2020: In mid-2020 China revealed that its J20 stealth fighter had officially entered mass production. This was not the original J20 prematurely declared ready in 2017, but a much improved J20B. This comes two years after China admitted that production of the J20 was stalled and the manufacturer confirmed the reasons why. The details were explained on state run television, in part to help recruit the skilled workers needed to produce the J20. There is a labor shortage in China, largely because of the decades of low birth rates mandated by the “one child” policy. The Chinese aircraft manufacturing industry, for both military and commercial aircraft, is booming and workers able to fabricate and assemble components are in short supply. Building the J20 requires a disproportionate number of skilled workers. Parts of the fuselage are made of alloys that are particularly time-consuming to mold and then fabricate into complex structures. Many of the components come from Chinese suppliers who are still developing and perfecting their production capabilities. In general, the J20 requires a lot of exotic components and supplies are tight. China also revealed that development of the J20 has cost $4.4 billion as of 2018, and that the construction cost for each aircraft is $110 million. In addition to the manufacturing difficulties, there were performance problems with the prototypes and six production models turned over to the Chinese Air Force by 2018.

This came after a late 2017 announcement that the J20 had officially entered service. At that time, it was obvious, via aerial photos of the factory and air bases, that production of the J20 was not actually happening. The manufacturer had planned to build three a month initially but from mid-2017 to mid-2018 production turned out to have been zero. At that time there were apparently a dozen more in various stages of completion. By early 2018 it was known that there were several potential problems with the J20 production but the main ones had to do with stealth (the delicate materials on the airframe that make radar detection less effective) and engines. The most obvious problem was the engines. In 2018 the WS-10s installed were a stopgap and not efficient enough to support supercruise (go supersonic without using the afterburner).
这是在2017年底宣布J20正式服役后发布的。 当时,通过工厂和空军基地的航拍照片可以明显看出,J20的生产实际上并没有进行。 该制造商最初计划每月制造三架,但从2017年中至2018年中,产量却为零。 那时,当然还有十几架处于不同制造阶段完工状态。 到2018年初,人们知道J20的生产存在一些潜在问题,但主要问题与隐身性(机身上的精致材料使雷达探测效率降低)和发动机有关。 最明显的问题是发动机。 在2018年安装的WS-10只是权宜之计,其效率不足以支持超音速巡航(无需使用加力燃烧器即可进行超音速飞行)。

China has had persistent problems developing high-performance jet engines. China has been developing the more powerful (and supercruise ready) WS-15 engine since the 1990s, for a larger aircraft like the J20. Despite a lot of effort, the WS-15 was still not able to work reliably enough for service (rather than a prototype) aircraft. Officials also confirmed rumors that a WS-15 exploded during a 2015 static (on the ground) test. That failure had been a secret, but when an engine this important fails by blowing up, the incident is difficult to hide. It also turned out that the WS-15 design and manufacturing problems were less difficult to fix than those encountered with other components and the skilled labor shortage.
中国在开发高性能喷气发动机方面一直存在问题。 自1990年代以来,中国一直在为更大的飞机(如J20)开发更强大(且具备超音速巡航能力)的WS-15发动机。 尽管付出了很多努力,但WS-15仍无法足够可靠地用于服役(而非原型)飞机。 官员们还证实了谣言,即WS-15在2015年的静态(地面)测试中爆炸。 那个失败一直是个秘密,但是当这个重要的发动机因炸毁而失败时,事故很难掩盖。 事实证明,与其他组件遇到的问题和熟练的劳动力短缺相比,WS-15的设计和制造问题不是那么容易解决。

In 2018 no date was given as to when the WS-15 would be available for use or whether it would have the same vectoring (ability to move the hot jet exhaust in different directions in order to make the fighter more maneuverable) the American F-22 uses. At first, a more powerful and reliable version of the WS-15 for J20 was believed possible by 2020, but changes in the shape and weight of the WS-15 would require modifications to the shape of the J20 which would require a lot of testing to ensure that stealth was not compromised. The factory would have to install new or modified manufacturing equipment and suppliers would have to do the same to produce the new airframe components. Apparently, all of those problems were solved by mid-2020. This included the WS-15 reliability problems.
在2018年,尚无关于何时可使用WS-15的日期或它是否具有美国F- 22所使用相同的矢量技术(能够使热喷排气沿不同方向移动以使战斗机更具机动性)。 最初,人们认为到2020年功能更强大,更可靠的J20 WS-15版本将成为可能,但是WS-15形状和重量的变化将需要修改J20的形状,这需要大量测试 确保隐身不受影响。 工厂必须安装新的或改装的制造设备,而供应商也必须这样做以生产新的机身部件。 显然,所有这些问题到2020年中期都已解决。 其中包括WS-15的可靠性问题。

The WS-15 saga was one of repeated disappointments and there may be more of that. Some high-performance jet engines are more reliable than others. Western engine manufacturers have been through this for decades as each now generation of engines was developed. China knows of that history and is resigned to repeating it. In 2018 it was announced that production models of the WS-15 were to be available in 2019. This was a reasonable assumption because the WS-15 has been in development since about 2003 and the first working version appeared in 2008. Based on past engine development experience the WS-15 should be ready for mass production by 2020, although the skilled labor shortage turned out to be more of a problem than anticipated. China overcame these production problems because you can’t mass produce the J20B without mass production of the WS-15 engines.
WS-15一连串的事件是一再令人失望的事件之一,而且可能还会更多。 一些高性能喷气发动机比其他发动机更可靠。 西方发动机制造商已经经历了数十年的发展,因为现在已经开发了每一代发动机。 中国知道那段历史,并愿意重复。 在2018年宣布WS-15的生产型将于2019年推出。这是一个合理的假设,因为WS-15自2003年左右开始研发,并且第一台运行型号于2008年问世。基于过去的发动机开发经验WS-15应该准备在2020年之前投入量产,尽管事实证明,熟练劳动力短缺比预期的更多。 中国克服了这些生产问题,因为如果不大量生产WS-15发动机,就无法大量生产J20B。

There was another reason for the early 2017 announcement that at least a dozen J20s had been delivered to the Chinese air force as part of a new fighter squadron. This information was exaggerated and released to help with export sales because at the time Chinese media was reporting that Pakistan had agreed to buy J20s. Numbers were not announced and there were still questions about how effective the J20 actually is. Pakistani interest in the J20 may have more to do with the fact that China is the only major-power ally they have, their main supplier of weapons and, best of all, a neighbor. Pakistan cannot afford many $110 million aircraft and China is not known to be generous with credit or discounts when it comes to high tech gear like this.
2017年初宣布的另一个原因是,至少有十几架J20作为新的战斗机中队的一部分交付给了中国空军。 这些信息被夸大并发布以帮助外销,因为当时中国媒体报道巴基斯坦已同意购买J20。 数量尚未公布,但有关J20的实际有效性仍有疑问。巴基斯坦对J20的兴趣可能与以下事实有关:中国是他们拥有的唯一大国盟友,其主要武器供应国,最重要的是邻国。巴基斯坦负担不起一些价值1.1亿美元的飞机,而众所周知,中国对此类高科技装备不愿提供信贷或折扣。

While China began offering its 28-ton J31 fighter to export customers in 2014 (as the FC-31), it was not until 2017 that efforts were made to export the more advanced J20. The manufacturer of the J20 (CAC. Chengdu Aircraft Company) also produces the JF-17 and J-10. The JF-17 is a joint effort with Pakistan and Pakistan is the main customer. J31s are not yet ready for mass production, in part because it has some of the same production problems as the J20 and China is deliberately putting more emphasis on getting the J20 into mass production. The J31 has undergone a number of modifications and the manufacturer is trying to develop a version that could be used from China’s new aircraft carriers.
2014年,中国开始向出口客户提供28吨J31战斗机(称为FC-31),但直到2017年,中国才试图出口更先进的J20。 J20的制造商(中航成都飞机公司)也生产JF-17和J-10。 JF-17与巴基斯坦共同努力,巴基斯坦是主要客户。 J31尚未准备好进行量产,部分原因是它与J20存在一些相同的生产问题,而中国则刻意更加重视将J20投入量产。 J31进行了许多修改,制造商正在尝试开发一种可以在中国新型航空母舰上使用的型号。

The J20 made its first flight in 2011, a year before the J31. Before the originally scheduled mass production could begin in late 2015, eight prototypes were built. There were at least two original J20 prototypes, and in 2013 a new prototype appeared that had several modifications and is estimated to have a max weight of 37 tons. By 2018 several more prototypes have been built along with at least six production models plus over a dozen stalled on the assembly line. All of these were built with the understanding that some major (and time-consuming) refurbishing might be needed once the WS-15 engine was ready for service.
J20在J31的前一年于2011年进行了首飞。 在最初计划的大规模生产于2015年底开始之前,已制造了8架原型。 至少有两架初始化的J20原型,2013年出现了一架新的原型,该原型进行了几处修改,最大重量估计为37吨。 到2018年,还将制造更多的原型以及至少六架生产型号,以及在装配线上停产的十几架生产型号。所有这些都是基于这样一种理解,一旦WS-15发动机准备就绪,可能需要进行一些重大的(且费时的)翻新。

Work on the J20 began in the late 1990s, and the Chinese went forward on the assumption that it could be 25 years or more before they had a competitive stealth fighter-bomber in service. The twin engine J20 first appeared to be about the same weight class as the non-stealthy American 30-ton F-15C, but the production model was closer in weight to the F22. By comparison, the U.S. F-35A stealth fighter-bomber is a 31-ton, single engine fighter, while the twin-engine F-22 is slightly larger at 38 tons. The Russian Su-57 weighed in at 37 tons and its production is also stalled over technical issues. The Russians can make more powerful (and reliable) engines than the Chinese but are still having problems with their other techs (stealth coatings and electronics). Russia has officially put production of its Su-57 stealth fighter on hold and are suffers from some of the same production problems as the Chinese.
J20的研制工作始于1990年后期,而中国人则以这样的假设前进,即他们要服役具有竞争力的隐形战斗轰炸机可能需要25年或更长时间。双发动机J20最初看起来与非隐形美国30吨F-15C的重量级别大致相同,但生产型的重量更接近F22。相比之下,美国的F-35A隐形战斗轰炸机是31吨单发动机战斗机,而双发动机F-22则稍大一些,为38吨。俄罗斯的Su-57重达37吨,其生产也因技术问题而停滞不前。 俄罗斯人可以制造比中国人更强大(和更可靠)的发动机,但他们的其他技术(隐身涂料和电子产品)仍然存在问题。 俄罗斯已正式暂停Su-57隐形战斗机的生产,并遭受与中国相同的生产问题。

While the J20 looks like the American F-22 when viewed head-on, it's overall shape, weight, and engine power is closer to the older, non-stealthy American F-15C. In other words, the J20 is 20.4 meters (67 feet) long, with a wing span of 13.5 meters (44 feet). The J20 has about the same wing area as the F-15C, which is about 25 percent less than the F-22, which is a few percent larger than the F-15 in terms of length and wingspan. Worse for the J20, is the fact that its engine power is about the same as the F-15C, while the F-22 has 65 percent more power. With the afterburner turned on, the J20 has more power than the F-15C and nearly as much as the F-22. But because the afterburner consumes so much fuel you can't use more than a few minutes at a time. The afterburner also generates a lot more heat which makes an aircraft more visible to heat sensors. The J20B appears able to supercruise with a powerful enough engine, joining the F-22, Eurofighter, and Swedish Gripen as aircraft that can supercruise. The J20B appears capable of doing lots of engine-dependent things during tests or in theory that it has not been able to sustain in regular service.
当正面看时,J20看起来像是美国F-22,但其整体形状,重量和发动机功率更接近于较老的,非隐形的美国F-15C。换句话说,J20长20.4米(67英尺),机翼翼展为13.5米(44英尺)。J20的机翼面积与F-15C大致相同,比F-22少25%,在长度和机翼翼展方面比F-15大百分之几。更糟糕的是,J20的发动机功率与F-15C差不多,而F-22的功率却提高了65%。在加力燃烧器打开的情况下,J20的功率比F-15C大,几乎与F-22差不多。但是,由于加力燃烧器消耗的燃油太多,因此一次最多只能使用几分钟。加力燃烧器还会产生更多的热量,这会使飞机对热传感器更加可见。 J20B似乎能够用足够强大的发动机进行超音速巡航,并加入了F-22,欧洲台风战斗机和瑞典“鹰狮”战斗机的行列,成为可以超音速巡航的飞机。 J20B似乎能够在测试期间完成许多发动机相关的工作,或者从理论上讲,它无法在常规服役中维持状态。

The J20 has some stealthiness when it's coming at you head on. But from any other aspect, the J20 will light up the radar screen unless it has effective radar absorbing material on the exterior. For this reason, the J20 initially appeared to be a developmental aircraft, not the prototype of a new model headed for mass production. China soon made it clear that the J20 was indeed the basis for a new fighter and would go through as many design and shape changes needed to become combat ready. Based on recent Chinese warplane development projects (J-11 in particular) it was believed that the J20 had a long development road ahead of it. There were some obvious changes between the first and the later prototypes, but nothing all that drastic. Thus, it was surprising when the J20 was declared ready for service in 2017 but not so surprising when production was quietly halted because of unspecified problems. Yet the Chinese have been competent and relentless in developing complex technologies and there was no reason to believe they won’t get the J20 working. That has apparently happened but that won’t be confirmed until J20Bs show up in an operational J20 fighter squadron. That may take a year or two.

The J20 is only the fourth stealth warplane to fly, the others being the American F-22 and F-35, plus the Russian Su-57. The older U.S. F-117 was actually a light bomber and the B-2 was obviously a heavy bomber. While the shape of the J20 confers a degree of stealthiness (invisibility to radar), even more electronic invisibility comes from special materials covering the aircraft. It's not known how far along the Chinese are in creating, or stealing data on, these materials. China would most likely use the J20 singly, or in small groups, to seek out and attack American carriers. For the J20 to be a superior fighter capable of that, it would need electronics (including radars and defense systems) on a par with the F-35 and F-22 as well as powerful and reliable engines and effective radar absorbing materials.
J20只是第四种隐身战机,其他飞机是美国的F-22和F-35,以及俄罗斯的Su-57。 较旧的美国F-117实际上是轻型轰炸机,而B-2显然是重型轰炸机。 J20的形状具有一定的隐身性(雷达不可见),而更多的电子隐身来自覆盖飞机的特殊材料。目前尚不清楚中国人在创造或窃取这些资料方面走了多远。中国很可能会单独或成群使用J20搜寻并攻击美国航母。为了使J20成为具备这种能力的高级战斗机,它需要与F-35和F-22相当的电子设备(包括雷达和防御系统),以及强大而可靠的发动机和有效的雷达吸收材料。

The J31 and J20 are further evidence that China is determined to develop its own high-tech military gear. While China is eager to develop advanced military technology locally, it recognizes that this takes time and more effort than nations new to this expect. Thus, China is trying to avoid the mistakes Russia made in this area. That means having competing designs and developing necessary supporting industries as part of that. All this takes a lot of time and involves lots of little (and some major) failures. The Chinese are doing it right and are willing to wait until they get the military tech that is truly world class.
J31和J20进一步证明了中国决心发展自己的高科技军事装备。尽管中国渴望在本国开发先进的军事技术,但它认识到,这需要时间和精力,这比新来的国家所期望的要多。因此,中国正在努力避免俄罗斯在这方面犯的错误。 这意味着要进行竞争性设计并开发必要的支持产业。 所有这一切都需要花费很多时间,并且涉及很多小(和一些主要)失败。 中国人做的对,愿意等到他们获得真正世界一流的军事技术。

    pre[上一篇]:Winning: Readiness Resolved   next[下一篇]:Winning: Chinese Fleet Is The Biggest

      Red Storm Rising: INDO-PACOM China Military Projection  
          U.S. Indo-Pacific Command recently gave a briefing about the challenges the command sees in the region. The briefing says China is the “Greatest Threat to Global Order and Stability” and presents a set of maps that portray a massive Ch... [2020-10-06]
      Winning: Chinese Fleet Is The Biggest  
          American intel estimates of Chinese naval power believe the Chinese fleet is now larger than the United States fleet of 293 major warships.... [2020-10-05]
      Warplanes: Chinese Stealth Fighter Ready  
          In mid-2020 China revealed that its J20 stealth fighter had officially entered mass production. This was not the original J20 prematurely declared ready in 2017, but a much improved J20B. ... [2020-10-03]
      Winning: Readiness Resolved  
          In late 2018 the U.S. Secretary of Defense ordered the air force and navy to raise the readiness rate (percentage of available aircraft able to do their job) to 80 percent for several key combat aircraft... [2020-06-06]