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J-10 overview and personal views

Mike Pryce

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To add to the two existing J-10 threads (on engine http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,1397.0.html and unveiling http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,506.0.html) below are my views on the project. Alternatives/discussions welcome - these views may simply betray my ignorance!

Wedge intake seems rather small. My guess is that it was intended to have a larger intake for a more powerful engine with a pitot intake (planned for later?). To reach some high speed design point (e.g. M 1.8-2.0) it required a wedge intake to be added to improve pressure recovery with the less powerful engine. This would reduce subsonic performance, but would make sense if high speed interception mattered. It would also explain the 'bodged' nature of the intake struts.

The canard seems to be the only destabilising surface, rather than the wing plus canards as on other aircraft, (e.g. Typhoon, which would be unstable even without its canards), which indicates a modest amount of instability rather than the most possible. Turn rates at all speeds are therefore not maximised, so it seems straight line flight is more important, where the canard will reduce trim drag, although in high AoA flight it will also improve the overall lift from the main wing, offsetting some of the high induced drag inherent in delta wings.

The flaps/elevons seem to compose of inner sections used for trimming purposes, probably to reduce the need for the canard to reduce lift through nose down trim - their small size/actuator making them little use for anything else, except perhaps high Mach roll control. The outer wing trailing edge surfaces seem to be 'flaperons', used for roll control and camber control, along with leading edge slats. The absence of slats on the inner wing shows the strong effect of the canards.

The nose has two main pitot and two AoA probes, which would indicate a triplex FBW system with dual redundant air-data - air-data is typically less redundant than the FBW. There also appears to be a single 'backup' of each probe type, perhaps for a backup analog FBW channel.

The very large fin (any fuel in there?), plus ventral strakes, would also indicate a desire for high Mach performance, when the CG shifts aft. The 'humped' fuselage seems to have that layout for area rule purposes, again indicating high Mach intentions. However, it also seems to allow a future 'saddle' fuel tank, which would make sense when a bigger engine comes along.

The main things that seems to reduce high Mach capability are the carriage of all weapons on pylons and all stores under the wing being pretty much in line, both adding a fair amount of wave drag (possibly offset by the fuselage area rule). This would reduce any supersonic cruise capabilty (as would the large wing root thickness/chord ratio) but would still permit high speed bursts with afterburner on.

The intake is as unstealthy a design as could be imagined, with no features that indicate this was given any consideration. The landing gear, fairly small wing/high lift devices and absence of thrust reverser indicate a lack of STOL/off base ability too.

Overall it seems to be essentially a defensive fighter with ground attack abilities. I would expect the J-11 to remain the main air superiority fighter, with the J-10 filling the role of the J-8.
 

jojo57

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This shot make me think of an all aluminium aircraft, without composit, from the dimension datas found on the web it seems as least as big as the Rafale(Rafale C ~9200 kg). But without composit it should wheight around 10 000 kg or more empty. What do you think?
 

Tam

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There are many closer pics of the plane, indicating there is no riveting on the tail structure, canards, ventral fins and parts of the main wing. That indicates composite. No surprise, Chengdu has been experimenting composite on some of these areas on board an F-7M prototype.

Chengdu achieved under 6400kg with the FC-1, with little or similar application of composite (tail), and the plane has an engine about 500kg lighter than the J-10's. As a matter of fact, the J-8II---which is totally last generation in comparison---achieves 9200kg in its early versions, and 10,000kg in its latest versions. That's for a plane much longer than a J-10 with considerable wingspan. Suffice to say, the Chinese does not build their planes heavy. Weight equals material, and material is still expensive for them no matter what, and cost remains a primary consideration in these designs. The relatively slim fuselage of the J-10, slimmer than the Lavi, M2000 or F-16, tells you there isn't that much they can put. A recent article by AFM has an estimate of the plane at 8300kg empty, but insider information suggests as low as nearly 7500kg.

The canards have a dihedral layout, like the Lavi, though other designs prefer a flat (Gripen, Rafale) or anhedral (Typhoon). Dihedral canards has a tendency to increase stability in the front part of the plane. This isn't going to maximize turn rates, but it will improve either ride in high mach or in low altitudes, like in a strike mission. The dihedral setup also means it throws the canard wake away from the main wing and up over the fuselage. To compensate for canard wake---and that's true with active canard designs---you need a high tail.

Canard wake is usually the main issue with canard designs. The plane takes a little step in helping to smooth out the wake thrown by the canards over the fuselage by adding a small spine that acts like a fin. On the two seater J-10S, the spine becomes more prominent.

The appearance of the spine also suggests the plane may have a semi-monoque structure, which means that strengthening can be achieved by beefing the spine underneath, rather than strengthening the entire tube of a fuselage, like the F-16s did, which cause them to add considerable weight. This so happens to be the trick in the MiG-21 design, copies of which are also built in Chengdu.

The ventral fins helps prevents yawing while rolling, again because the plane seems a bit longer than most small fighters, and the longer the plane is, the greater this problem potentially presents. This was a problem in the J-8I design, but appears smoothed out in the J-8II which not only added an even bigger tail fin, but a large ventral fin on the bottom. Just as in the FC-1 and the J-8II, these fins are moved to the back, so its compensating for high mach.

The J-10 had opportunity to copy the high visibility bubble canopy of the Lavi and F-16, but it didn't, sacrificing the SUV like high in the seat visibility for a low drag canopy. The bubble canopies on the F-16 and no doubt the Lavi are one of the bigger inhibitors in the F-16 in attaining high speeds, and at a certain supersonic speed, begins to heat up.

The intake isn't very stealthy, but the engine is completely enclosed and no compressor blade is expected to be exposed. But then I really cannot see why other intakes are stealthier; rounded surfaces is as horrible as corners when it comes to RCS, for their tendency to produce highlights. A fixed intake can help give you faster acceleration at lower speeds, but at the expense of higher speeds (all depending on the size of the intake venturi). So again, this points the emphasis for speed. Having a single lower intake reduces frontal cross section against dual side intake designs like the Gripen or Rafale.

The latter aircraft (Rafale) for me is unusual because it has LERX where the canards attach to. The thing I don't like about LERX is they tend to be draggy, although they help generate those energizing vortices that can be used to stabilize and control the plane at high AoA. But such vortices should be generated by the canards alone when called for, and the canards can straighten out in straight flight so they don't present a big lump in the air stream as LERXes do.

I don't think high instability is necessary; instability is a double edged sword that can bite you. At a certain point, a plane or its FBW may not be able to act fast enough to recover the plane. The plane has better means to achieve high turn rates. The canards will still give direct take up and superior pitching authority over any elevator design. While close coupled, it still extends more forward of the wing compared to the Lavi or even the Gripen, giving the canards a greater arm movement and therefore less effort to pitch compared to the Lavi. The wing/canard lift area appears to be as high as 38 to 39 square meters, compared to 28 square meters for the F-16. Assuming the weight mentioned above, that gives the plane low wing loading.

From the videos, the plane has been seen landing and taking off at steep angles, as well as steep fast climbs. That suggests low wing loading and an abundance of power. As expected the plane has a high roll rate, no surprise since deltas do tend to have that.

The size of the radar is quite large for a single engined fighter. It is probably the largest I've seen for a single engined fighter. The Russian radar that has been offered to it (but apparently rejected) is the same radar used on the MiG-29 upgrades. No doubt the advantage of a big radar never missed the designers. In contrast, I'm relatively disappointed with the small size of the radar used on the Rafale, and the Typhoon's set, is about as small. The shortness of the Typhoon's nose, plus the space being taken up by the canard actuators, gives you less room to put the radar components. That also means less room for ventilation, less room for the techs to work on, and ultimately, less room to expand. Not to mention the canards and actuator weight only adds stability to the nose, so it's not optimal, and the canards are small, less pitching authority but somehow compensated by the longer arm of having the canards placed up front. (The long distance between the canards and the wing of the Typhoon also compensates for canard wake, which it needs to, since the canard and the wing are nearly on the same plane).

The wing of the J-10 is unusual because it has a bent anhedral effect. This is not even apparent on the Lavi when viewed frontwise, but it is seen also in the Typhoon and the X-31. The bending reduces or stops the outer wing edge bleed that afflicts deltas or wings with a high sweep, which has a tendency to reduce lift and increases the speed which the wing may stall. In many photos, the slats can extend in a way so like the Gripen, the edge of the slat and the edge of the wing forms a sawtooth, which acts like a wing fence and keeps the air layer going in and under the wnig rather than sideways.

This also explains why the inner part of the wing does not have slats, as the slats only extend outward from the bent. Frontwise, the planes of the dihedral canards and the bent anhedral wings gives the jet the rough outline of an "X". It looks as if the wings and the canard are deliberately trying to be as far from each other, again shows you the attention its trying to deal against canard wake.

The humped fuselage reminds me of the MiG-29 "full" back seen in later planes. So while it has an area rule, it can double as increasing the internal fuel capacity, as well as space for avionics. MiG has some connections with Chengdu, since its Klimov subsidiary is supplying engines for Chengdu's FC-1 project. The small struts you see in on top of the intake is also remniscient of another MiG design, the 1.44 (take a look at the intake closely).

Performance wise, I expect the plane to have a very fast instantaneous turn rate, along with a very fast roll rate. I've seen some rumored figures already that suggest this, with a 31 degrees instantaneous turn rate, and 300 degrees per second roll rate. Sustained turn rate is another issue though, as deltas generally have never been good at that, unless you can overpower it through a high TWR and I mean truly high.

I would seriously take the _official_ PLA reports as well as the CCTV report about the J-10s consistently besting the J-11s and Su-30s in mock wargames. The PLA never admits to anything and is completely mum about everything unless its that serious and obvious before they admit to it. Especially when they have an enormous investment on the Flankers along with the careers of senior officials and officers that have bet on it. J-10s have constantly wargamed against Flankers since the summer of 2003 when ten of them appeared in a base in Nanjing, probably the ones that IOC'ed with the Flight Test and Training Center vs. the Su-30MKKs of the 3rd Division, which is probably the most elite formation in the PLAAF. Suffice to say, in 2004, the year where J-10s IOCed with the 44th Division, the PLAAF had stopped ordering both Su-30MKKs and the J-11 kits, suggesting a critical doubt on the Flanker type. The final order of the Su-30MK2 went to the PLA navy air arm, and only one batch was ever ordered, and since then, the orders never continued.

The last serious wargame took place last december, where J-10s of the 44th Division went up against the J-11s of the 19th Division, a forward unit facing Taiwan in the East China sea and can be considered one of the main hammers in a potential airwar against the ROCAF. The J-10s acted as "aggressors", and it seemed that the results wasn't very good for the 19th. In one encounter, as reported in CCTV, two J-10s defeated 5 J-11/Su-27s.

Suffice to say, among speculators, one of the reasons for the Su-27's defeat was due to the outmoded sensors of the Su-27. It seemed the Su-30 fared a little better, but certainly not enough to impress the PLAAF to continue ordering the Su-30MK2. As a matter of fact, the J-10s have debuted on the elite 3rd Division, taking the role of lead regiment over the Su-30MKKs assigned in that regiment, and the division now sports a new logo with a cartoon of a J-10 on it. Actions and body language like that speaks a lot what officers and pilots do take of the plane and how it measures over others.

The J-11B with the digital cockpit, holohud, new radar and sensors should at least equal things with the J-10 on the sensor and avionics departments, which would put the battle on pure performance and pilot skill alone.

It is for this reason why I look forward seeing how the J-11B goes up against the J-10. The stakes are high. If the J-11B loses, so is the future of the Flanker as the PLAAF's main frontline fighter.
 

Mike Pryce

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Tam

Very interesting stuff!

One area where I think the J-11 will be hard to beat is in range - it is much larger than the J-10 and has a higher aspect ratio wing and lots of internal fuel, as do all SU-27 variants. I am not surprised that a smaller, more modern aircraft like the J-10 can beat it in air combat (after all, the Mig 29 was better close in than an SU-27, but much less range), but for long range escort/strike missions I think the PLAAF will still see the virtues of the J-11, especially the B model.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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I'm sorry, but being disappointed in the size of the Typhoon radar compared to the J-10 is plain silly. CAPTOR is lighter than a Zhuk radar, and smaller, but its also better in every respect. Size does not equal performance in avionics, or the USSR would have had the best avionics around :)

I'm disappointed to see the use of a pitot tube on the radome. According to all US and European experience, this is simply incompatible with highest performance in the essential medium PRF modes for all aspect detection, though it can be acceptable for high PRFs.
 

Tam

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The Typhoon is also a lot more expensive than the J-10, perhaps 3x as much. Lighter is not the point, what you're going to put in it in the future is. You're not putting a radar there that is any bigger than that of a MiG-29. Right now CASTOR is a slotted array with decidely lacking many air to ground and air to support options, when planes of comparable price are using AESA with radars that are multirole. Lack of space means lack of ventilation and when it comes to thermally hot radars like AESA, that would be vital. I would have to put cooling equipment and more powerful transformers somewhere. Check out what's behind the radome firewall, and remember this space has to compete with canard actuators.

The J-10 radar, despite some Taiwan forecast, is a rather mundane slotted array. But at least for that plane of its size, there is quite some space and Its not about what it has now, its what you can install on it for the future.

Though I must mention that the fire control does not appear to have much AGM/ASM/AshM support currently, despite some potential mode in using FLIR/LT pods. The J-10 would have had multirole capabiltiies outright if the Zhuk radar is chosen, or even at least if the JL-10 radar used on the JH-7A is chosen. It is quite an irony that the PRC's first working multirole radar isn't even on the J-10. This shows you clearly that A2A is the primary basic requirement of the aircraft, and A2G and A2S roles are future paths. Whatever that radar is (manufactured in Nanjing), choosing it over the Zhuk suggests it may have considerably better A2A performance, though at the expense of not having as much ground and sea modes.

To put it roughly I expect the radar to have a target tracking range of around 80 to 100km, will track 10 targes in TWS, and engage 2 to 4 targets.

Do note that J-10s as of 2006, have been observed adding what appears to be a satellite uplink. With the recent revelations that the PLAAF is now testing satellite guided munitions, the implications are there.

As for range, a delta wing generally holds a lot more fuel than a sweep wing or clipped delta like the F-16. So you can expect quite a bit of fuel on the J-10. Plus the hump back that is remniscient of the MiG-29 later variants. That means the plane has the fuel to back up considerable range (estimates put it at 4500kg, which is awfully generous for a single engined jet). It is quite interesting to note that the J-10 base in Zhejiang is out of reach of ROCAF F-16s and M2000s, and yet J-10s from that base approached the Taiwan straits in an attempt to try to get ROCAF SAM radars to light up. So for now, it does appear that the J-10 has the range and internal fuel to perform missions over Taiwan and the East China sea.

Compared to the J-11, the narrow wing span limits the size and number of munitions you can install. It gets cramped underneath the wings clearly. But that's okay, the PLAAF has JH-7As, Su-30s, and J-11s to serve as fighter bombers, not to mention J-8IIs. Still the persistent reports that CAC is developing a twin engined delta canard suggests the J-10 itself may only be a transitionary plane, and that future PLAAF requirements are better met with bigger planes. At least the big planes provide the main hammers, but still expect the small fighters to provide a fast combat tempo (high and fast mission generation rate).

The J-11 still presents an interesting option. For one thing the radar diameter is 30% larger than the J-10s. With the same company providing the radar as the J-10, the technological factor is equalized, so the size of the array and power of the emitter will really count in a comparison with the J-11B. Despite the square intake, I would expect the J-10's RCS to be lower than the J-11, which has more RCS no no's like exposed engine blades in the front. Still a bigger and more powerful radar would still count and it can give the J-11B a detection advantage.

J-11B also has some niceties like the wide screen holographic hud, which appeared to be a last minute addition to the aircraft but failed to make it in current J-10 or FC-1s but can be expected to appear in those planes in the future. One thing the J-10 appears to currently lack is the IRST. Another is that the J-10 currently don't seem to have HMS at the moment, despite the prototypes appearing to have them. The test pilots appear to be wearing HMS or HMS attachments in their helmets, but the pilots in the serving regiments appear to be using a much different helmet. So it does appear that the HMS is currently removed from the planes. However, during the last Zhuhai show, there appears to be a prototype of new kind of HMS. But at least for now, the J-11B appears compatible with the Arsenal HMS that is used on the Su-27. It is also noted that J-8F pilots are also seen with the same helmets used on the Su-27s.

- Despite the maneuverbility of the J-11B, I kind of expect it would play more of standoff spam BVRAAM role, along with the Su-30MKKs, if the latter is not doing some air to ground service. I won't waste my most expensive assets mixing up in WVR, when at best, you have a 50/50 chance of being the victor or the victim. Like a flying SAM platform. The plane may also act like a flying AWACS platform to vector smaller fighters.

- Mixing it up, I think that's the role of the upgraded J-7s (with slotted array radar), which is to provide a high tempo and swarm at enemy aircraft for close range fights. They make take the brunt of the fighting and even dying.

- The J-8IIs, upgraded with PL-12, acts both as an offensive/defensive sniper interceptor, trying to hit and run. It has the speed to run away, but lacks the maneuverbility to mix up with a modern fighter.

I kind of see the J-10 as both the spammer, mixer and sniper. Its harder to see where the FC-1 fits into this.

Assesement of armament.

When it comes to BVR, its really about kill percentages and how big and wide your NEZ is. I would say that the PLAAF has a credible AAM with the PL-12, and they seem very eager to adopt this. The Chinese appear to believe that the PL-12 is slightly better than the R-77, and you have to give them the benefit of a doubt since they happen to own both to do some real actual testing.

The improved version of the PL-8 now entering into PLAAF service looks decent but its no AIM-9X or IRIS. It appears to have a four element multispectral seeker using InSb and is nitrogen cooled. The PLAAF appeared to have managed to boost the range of the missile from 15km to 22km. Compared to the Pythons, I would put it as Python 3.5. Some Chinese sites credit as much as 60 degrees off bore, which is possible if they studied the R-73's seeker and incorporated a similar gymbal mechanism. Certainly if they're looking to use HMS on it, like with the J-8F, it may have that abiilty. I would say this missile is not as good as the cutting edge IR AAMs, but still better than the thousands of legacy AIM-9L and Matra Magics out there. As far as the R-73 is concerned, while it may have a wide off bore and TVC controls, it has a relatively low speed (Mach 2.2) while the Python 3 the PL-8 is based from goes to Mach 3. That low speed can affect your kill percentage.

Suffice to say, compared to early reports, the J-10 is not compatible with the R-77,. R-27 and R-73, and there is no indication of this. Furthermore there don't seem to be any effort or testing in order to provide that capability.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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This is going off-topic but CAPTOR is a pretty decent radar. For air-to-air work, I can't think of anything outside the US that can compare to it. More than 24 targets tracked, range against a fighter exceeding 185km... in its field its better than any other non-AESA radar. Typhoon will also get a very advanced IRST, which can track 300 targets at once out to beyond 80km.

I'd want those three J-10s if I was taking on a Typhoon. Assuming it really will be that cheap...
 

Tam

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Depends on how you are "tracking" those targets. Lately some radars are boasting high tracking numbers coupled with high distances for them but they are actually using Velocity Search modes rather than Track While Scan. As for "detection" distances, it is important that they quote you whether it is done by Range While Search, Track While Scan, Velocity Search or similar equivalents using slightly rephrased names. Then you tell me if that is done on a look up, look down, head on,or pursuit mode. Then tell me what the RCS of the target is. I have no doubt that an F-16 can detect a target at 160km under the right circumstances, so 185km is no surprise. The Zhuk MSE also claimed a 180-185 range against a 3m2 RCS target.

Sio radar range figures are literally meaningless unless you provide a context.

MESA radars tend to have better field of view than PESA or AESA. So that is not surprising. When sidescanning, PESA or AESA requires greater constructive/deconstructive interference during the phase shifting, and the more offbore the beam gets, the greater the interference needed. Which means more power is pumped into the shifters, which often leads to greater heat. At the same time, there is a signal strength loss that goes with it, and when chips get hot, they always lose efficiency. The result of this means that an ESA requires more powerful transformers/power supplies, additional cooling or ventilating equipment, which also needs their own power supplies. All that amounts to space and weight...

And brings you back to the issue of the space in the nose.

The MESA sidesteps this by simply swinging the entire array to the side. No problem.

Theoritically, an IRST can detect a target LIGHT YEARS from earth if said target is radiating enough heat like a star. Certainly it has no problem 80, 100 or 200km, the radiant energy produced by a jet exhaust is magnitudes greater than any radar. But the problem is there are many circumstances in the atmosphere where IR radiation is simply absorbed and even become completely opaque. That circumstance is called water vapor.

So under many circumstances it becomes useless. Not to say it is nice to have an IRST even for the J-10 but I don't necessarily find it to be essential.

Going back to the J-10, I thought the pitot tubes are there to measure air speed.
 

JCage

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overscan said:
This is going off-topic but CAPTOR is a pretty decent radar. For air-to-air work, I can't think of anything outside the US that can compare to it. More than 24 targets tracked, range against a fighter exceeding 185km... in its field its better than any other non-AESA radar.

The Bars is pretty comparable, although it tracks fewer targets and has more limited scan angles. But on the plus side, it can scan fully within its limits without having to slice elevation/ bars combinations.

Typhoon will also get a very advanced IRST, which can track 300 targets at once out to beyond 80km.

Is the IRST able to provide 3D positional data, able to cue a BVR missile?

I'd want those three J-10s if I was taking on a Typhoon. Assuming it really will be that cheap...

Agree.
 

Trident

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JCage said:
overscan said:
This is going off-topic but CAPTOR is a pretty decent radar. For air-to-air work, I can't think of anything outside the US that can compare to it. More than 24 targets tracked, range against a fighter exceeding 185km... in its field its better than any other non-AESA radar.

The Bars is pretty comparable, although it tracks fewer targets and has more limited scan angles. But on the plus side, it can scan fully within its limits without having to slice elevation/ bars combinations.

True, but with a heavy (literally) weight penality!
 

Trident

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Tam said:
Going back to the J-10, I thought the pitot tubes are there to measure air speed.

Indeed, but it is not hard to imagine that what amounts to a dipole resonator infront of the radar antenna a mere arm's length away can lead to problems in certain conditions.

About the J-11B, I agree that there is a place for it in the PLAAF alongside the J-10. You didn't see the USAF abandoning the F-15 after the Falcon entered the picture, heavy fighters quite simply have a few inherent advantages (endurance, payload, growth potential for avionics).
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Indeed. You can add some RAM - but then you get a hole right in the middle of your radar coverage.
 

jojo57

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To have a big nose is not a good point for RCS, something some planes like Rafale are designed to reduce, obviously this not the goal of the J-10.
Maybe it has a powerfull radar, but you will see it from far away too.

And I still believe that this airplane is mettallic and people too optimistic about her weight.

The relatively slim fuselage of the J-10, slimmer than the Lavi, M2000 or F-16, tells you there isn't that much they can put. A recent article by AFM has an estimate of the plane at 8300kg empty, but insider information suggests as low as nearly 7500kg.
How can you hope to have slimmer fuselage with an AL-31F inside, moreover the fuselage gets wider in front of the wings.

he ventral fins helps prevents yawing while rolling, again because the plane seems a bit longer than most small fighters
This solution is not state of the art aerodynamic design!

Overall this surely a good fighter, dangerous and to be taken seriously. But Tam stop advertising it as light as a Mirage 2000 when it is slightly bigger than the Rafale which already has 47% of its weight made of composit materials (70% percent of its surface).
Moreover we can only speculate about its weapon system.
 

Trident

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jojo57 said:
To have a big nose is not a good point for RCS, something some planes like Rafale are designed to reduce, obviously this not the goal of the J-10.
Maybe it has a powerfull radar, but you will see it from far away too.

The point to keep in mind with the Rafale (and also the F-22, the radome of which is ludicrously small compared to, say, the F-15's) is that its fixed phased array antenna can take up the complete diameter of the radome where it joins the fuselage. There need not be any allowance for swivelling it or for the gimbals needed for this.

jojo57 said:
And I still believe that this airplane is mettallic and people too optimistic about her weight.

How can you hope to have slimmer fuselage with an AL-31F inside, moreover the fuselage gets wider in front of the wings.

I agree - either that or the fuel capacity is overestimated. It seems a bit of a stretch to fit 4500kg of tankage into an airframe of 8300kg. Especially with the 'slim' fuselage. Something's got to give.
 

Tam

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jojo57 said:
To have a big nose is not a good point for RCS, something some planes like Rafale are designed to reduce, obviously this not the goal of the J-10.
Maybe it has a powerfull radar, but you will see it from far away too.

And I still believe that this airplane is mettallic and people too optimistic about her weight.

Being metallic does not mean anything about weight. The J-8II is completely made of metal except for some parts of the tail, and the -B versions come in with 9200kg empty, despite its sheer length. The FC-1, which is a more direct comparison to the J-10, being of the same factory and would reflect the same contruction techniques, came in right at its specified weight of under 6400kg empty. That plane does not use a lot of composites except for portions of the tail. And with the DSI on the later prototypes, they even shaved 200kg more of the empty weight, which is traded for extra internal fuel to maintain the same combat weight.

The relatively slim fuselage of the J-10, slimmer than the Lavi, M2000 or F-16, tells you there isn't that much they can put. A recent article by AFM has an estimate of the plane at 8300kg empty, but insider information suggests as low as nearly 7500kg.
How can you hope to have slimmer fuselage with an AL-31F inside, moreover the fuselage gets wider in front of the wings.

Apparently you don't know one bit about area rule.

he ventral fins helps prevents yawing while rolling, again because the plane seems a bit longer than most small fighters
This solution is not state of the art aerodynamic design!

And you do, huh? You can also increase wingspan or the height of the rudder to prevent yawing while rolling, but they also add drag as you use the fresh air stream rather than the wake underneath the fuselage.

Overall this surely a good fighter, dangerous and to be taken seriously. But Tam stop advertising it as light as a Mirage 2000 when it is slightly bigger than the Rafale which already has 47% of its weight made of composit materials (70% percent of its surface).
Moreover we can only speculate about its weapon system.

There is no direct evidence about a high weight of the plane. Some Chinese poster invented a 9750kg empty weight to make it look more like a Typhoon rather than the Lavi, and in fact 9750kg was supposed to be the original Typhoon prototype empty weight. New AFM estimate puts it at 8300kg empty now, while a leak suggest that the empty weight is about over 7500. Lavi is about 7000kg, and the weight differential between PW1120 and AL-31FN is only about 200kg.

Furthermore, from the videos, the plane appears to land and take off from steep angles and short distances, suggesting a very low wing loading.

Rafale has 47% composite? Not by a long shot, that would make it more advanced than the F-2, JSF or F-22 in terms of using composite.

Bigger than the Rafale? The Rafale may be short, but it happens to have a wide diameter (thick) because it carries two engines, which alone may add at least 500kg over the J-10's single engine, not to mention all the supporting accessories and the supporting structure that needs to house the two engines. Rafale also has a much larger wingspan and wing area, and you're not going to composite the wing structure itself. There is also the cooling and the power supply needed for the PESA, and these things have to be greater for a PESA than a MSA, things that are not quoted with the radar weight.

Another factor of weight is the life of the airframe. Many Western jets go as far as 8000 hours. Beefier airframes means heavier airframes, so Western jets are trading beef and hence weight for increased airframe life. YOu can't make a direct comparison with Chinese or Russian jets unless you know what is the intended life of the airframe. Suffice to say, the J-10 01 prototype logged over 2500 flights before its retired. Assuming two hours per flight, that would be 4000 to 5000 hours, and its expected that the FC-1 has about 4000 flight hours in its airframe. Probably that's the PLAAF required specs. So I would expect that the expected frame life is lower than an F-16's and see no reason to be beefed up to the same level.
 

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The point to keep in mind with the Rafale (and also the F-22, the radome of which is ludicrously small compared to, say, the F-15's) is that its fixed phased array antenna can take up the complete diameter of the radome where it joins the fuselage. There need not be any allowance for swivelling it or for the gimbals needed for this.

In theory, but not in practice. That's because a PESA still has the emitters right at the back screen, and both AESA and PESA still requires a limited mechanical assist to turn around because of the disadvantages of sidescanning with electronic scanning and its poor FOV. Plus you need ventilation to dissipate the heat the phase shifters make.
 

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Indeed, but it is not hard to imagine that what amounts to a dipole resonator infront of the radar antenna a mere arm's length away can lead to problems in certain conditions.

The strips all around the radome may also present similar problems, but such strips were not present in radomes of Chinese fighters before. The radome probe may be a anti lightning static sensor, which is the only other thing I can think of other than being a reference receiver.

About the J-11B, I agree that there is a place for it in the PLAAF alongside the J-10. You didn't see the USAF abandoning the F-15 after the Falcon entered the picture, heavy fighters quite simply have a few inherent advantages (endurance, payload, growth potential for avionics).

Well that's because the F-15 still has some performance advantage over the F-16. Hi-Lo mix generally works if the larger plane has some inherent advantages, including performance, over the lo mix. Remember the original USAF F-16s could not even do BVR and that situation lasted for years until the F-16C.

You can't have a workable hi-lo mix if the lo mix is consistently thrashing the hi mix in wargames. That situation may have arose because the Su-27SK/J-11/Su-30MKK were sold with clearly outdated avionics which the PRC had no problem catching up with, thanks to Israeli and studying Western sources. The US can maintain a parity in avionics between the F-15 and the F-16.

For the Flankers, the PLAAF only has a few alternatives. Go with the Su-35, which may be too expensive, probably isn't fully baked, and won't have compatibility with PRC developed munitions. Or third, fit your own avionics and radar to it, a situation that has parallels with the Japanese F-15 program. That now appears to be the most likely path.
 

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Tam said:
In theory, but not in practice. That's because a PESA still has the emitters right at the back screen, and both AESA and PESA still requires a limited mechanical assist to turn around because of the disadvantages of sidescanning with electronic scanning and its poor FOV.

AFAIK the Bars/Irbis and the Swedish AESA proposed for the Gripen are the only radars that have additional mechanical scanning. As far as airborne fighter radars go they are the exception, not the rule.

Tam said:
Rafale has 47% composite? Not by a long shot, that would make it more advanced than the F-2, JSF or F-22 in terms of using composite.

I'm in no position to verify the 47% figure, but I don't find it hard to give it the benefit of the doubt. The F-2 is based on the F-16 which didn't use that much composite to begin with (the F-2 does use significantly more of course, but the point is that it isn't overly hard to 'beat' it there) and the F-22 has a high percentage of Titanium to deal with airframe heating at sustained supersonic speeds.

Tam said:
The strips all around the radome may also present similar problems, but such strips were not present in radomes of Chinese fighters before. The radome probe may be a anti lightning static sensor, which is the only other thing I can think of other than being a reference receiver.

The difference is that there really is no other sensible way of protecting the expensive radar against lightning strikes, but there certainly are different ways to gather airdata. Not to mention that those strips are atleast not dead ahead. In short, the strips can be seen as unavoidable, not so the probe however.

Tam said:
You can't have a workable hi-lo mix if the lo mix is consistently thrashing the hi mix in wargames. That situation may have arose because the Su-27SK/J-11/Su-30MKK were sold with clearly outdated avionics which the PRC had no problem catching up with, thanks to Israeli and studying Western sources.

Exactly. If you were to pit 1970's F-15A's armed with Sidewinders and Sparrows against 1990's F-16C's with AMRAAMs, which would you expect to win in a BVR fight? And going by the alleged 10:1 score those wargames certainly included a lot of BVR combat - in WVR the score would hardly be that lopsided against an opponent with HMS, such as the Flanker. Unless of course the odds were stacked heavily in favour of the J-10, but I don't think it needs to be spelt out what that would mean for any conclusions we draw based on the results ;)

Tam said:
Or third, fit your own avionics and radar to it, a situation that has parallels with the Japanese F-15 program. That now appears to be the most likely path.

Yes, that's why I specifically mentioned the -B version of the J-11, it is a very sensible course of action for the PLAAF.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Typhoon is 50% composite by weight and 70% by surface area, so I think the Rafale figure is likely accurate.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Note -regarding the radome pitot tube- F-14, F-15 did not use one, F-16 did, but the Block 60 F-16 with APG-80 has removed the pitot tube.

Lavi used a radome pitot tube, so if the J-10 radome is EL/M-3032 level of technology it might be acceptable.
 

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I assumed that the nose pitot was for test aircraft, and that the 'main' ones were the two L-shaped ones either side of the nose. But as they all have the radome pitot it looks like it is there to stay. In which case I would say the J-10 has a quad-FBW system, indicating slightly lower technology levels than a triplex one.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Lavi used a quadruplex digital FBW system. I wouldn't be surprised if J-10 does too, at least for initial variants.
 

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We are seeing pics of new FC-1's that are allegedly intended to be delivered to Pakistan in March 10. They now have a grey radome with a short pitot, and this time, no visible strips. Hard to say what the change in radome is for. After seriously testing the PT 04 and PT06 prototypes last year. I don't know why they would make a sudden radar change for the preproduction planes for Pakistan. Could be the same radar just with a new radome. Or perhaps Pakistan may have different requirements when it comes to the need of static protection. Why I mentioned the FC-1 is that these projects are going to be related. It may be interesting to see if the new radome would be headed to the PLAAF for all projects or it would just specific to the PAF.

Basically what I know as the purpose of nose pitots are three things. To measure wind speed, as an antistatic probe, and third, as a reference receiver to verify the radar output just outside of the radome. The third purpose is used only in developmental projects. The first two can be used together.

There are three pitots on the side of the J-10's radar. But the way they're positioned, two against the air stream headed just underneath the canards, one under and in front of the intake, suggests they're there to measure air speed.
 

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Exactly. If you were to pit 1970's F-15A's armed with Sidewinders and Sparrows against 1990's F-16C's with AMRAAMs, which would you expect to win in a BVR fight? And going by the alleged 10:1 score those wargames certainly included a lot of BVR combat - in WVR the score would hardly be that lopsided against an opponent with HMS, such as the Flanker. Unless of course the odds were stacked heavily in favour of the J-10, but I don't think it needs to be spelt out what that would mean for any conclusions we draw based on the results

The wargaming has been going on for a while, I would say, since the summer of 2003. That's more than enough time to cover a wide set of conditions, including WVR. Suffice to say, the J-11s are not exactly just hampered with an R-27, its been reported that they have a mod (more like a hack) that enables them to use the R-77, complete with a new MFD mounted on top of the dashboard. The Su-30MKK of course, is more comprehensive. I was pleasantly surprised if the J-10s are able to beat planes with HMS consistently and in high ratios, though the J-10s may have an HMS on their own (the pilots flying the prototypes have been seen with helmets that contain attachments). And the J-10 lacks an IRST.

Don't know if its "stacked" for the J-10. The PLAAF has invested huge on the Flankers, and there are CMC members or party officials that would have their eggs on the basket too. There are going to be a lot of important people that will be red faced if it didn't turn out. As a matter of fact, i suspect it may cause a crisis of confidence within the PLAAF who expected that the Flankers are their best hedge against the ROCAF. As a note the J-10s, such as in the last exercise in December, were playing Blue Flag aggressor (aka ROCAF).

The observation that some of these J-10 pilots may be veteran Su pilots may stack in favor of the J-10s somewhat, since one guys know the other plane's weakness well and the other guy doesn't.

Still in WVR combat, a few things can fall in favor of the J-10.

- Size. Flanker is easy to eyeball. That's bad if the other guy has HMS. The fact that the PLAAF uses a fairly dark color on the Flankers isn't going to help, while the J-10s have a shade of blue and grey that almost fits the sky.

- Active canard designs should have a faster instantaneous turn rate.

- Better sensors, especially on the passive ones. Also I think the J-10's planar array may give a better field of view than the Su-27's twist cassegrain.

- Su-27 isn't the most user friendly of planes. Too much switches just to arm a missile for example.

- HMS is not a silver bullet and neither is WOBS missiles. To work its requires that you first eyeball the target, and you must make sure the target is not friendly. You may just end up targeting with your radar just to be assured that you won't have a blue on blue or red on red incident. WOBS may end up locking on some other thing in its wide FOV that may not be of your intention.

- The pilot factor. As i mentioned before, if the J-10 pilot happens to be a vet former Su pilot.
 

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This may explain the old pitot and a new one that appeared in an FC-1 recently. The pitot on the J-10 is likely to be the same as used in the FC-1 prototypes.

"Pilot head in the latest JF-17 has been replaced by a Rotary Multifunctional Probe. This new probe was produced by Chinese Department of Comprehensive Planning Department, China Aero Products Division, and Department of airborne equipment and technology development and in consultation with French company Thales.

The new probe replaces the traditional fuselage pitot head to measure the the angle of attack. The new generation of sensors will now detect both the atmospheric data and aircraft's angle of attack. This will make it very easy for the pilot to follow and understand the data reflected by a MFD. It is a major step forward in acquiring the latest technologies and their integration in our JF-17.

Source: Pshamim at www.pakdef.info "

So I guess the probe we have been seeing is used measure angle of attack. We may also expect that a new probe may be introduced for later J-10s.
 

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Tam

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I agree - either that or the fuel capacity is overestimated. It seems a bit of a stretch to fit 4500kg of tankage into an airframe of 8300kg. Especially with the 'slim' fuselage. Something's got to give.

Most likely the fuel part. Don't mistake however that the J-10 may carry more fuel than an F-16 (3300kg). The J-10 has full length delta wings that can hold more fuel than a clipped and shortened delta like the F-16's. The root structure is also much longer, and you can see its being taken full advantage to put a large bladder on each either side. And again, the humpback on the J-10's fuselage is reminscient of the MiG-29 with the extended back used to carry more fuel. Ths is one of the two MiG style cues I've seen with the jet, the other being the struts above the intake being reminiscient of the MiG 1.44. [Another characteristic of the MiG 1.44, the use of a strake to induce vortex, is not seen on the J-10 but on the original FC-1 prototype. There is a deliberate gap in the canard that creates something like a strake].

And yet the J-10 is still often pictured carrying external tanks, suggesting that even with the features above, it may not still be enough. The J-10's calculated lifting area is said to be 38 sqr meters, and I am assuming that 5m is used on the canards (actually that's the Lavi's figure). That leaves 33 sqr. meters for the wing, which is not that much over the F-16's 28 sqr mtr. This correspondingly also affects the total volume of fuel you can plumb on the wings.
 

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Just a – maybe silly :D – question regarding the foreign content on the J-10-development: While there are many sources quoting the direct Israeli contribution based on the Lavi and also the un-deniable Russian input in form of the AL-31FN and some aerodynamic similarities with Mikoyan designs there are also some statements that say or discuss: If the Peace Pearl Programme would be concluded as foreseen, it's quite probable that the J-10 would now be powered by an American engine like the F100 or F110.

One of the main US contractors during the Peace Pearl programme was Grumman with the efforts to improve the J-8 and to develop the Super-7 … but Grumman was also heavily involved in the Lavi program at least in producing the wings … so could it be that at the very beginning of the J-10 around 1986 until the end of the US participation in 1989 Grumman itself gave assistance to the J-10 ?? ???

Just an idea ??

Deino
 

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Perhaps:

First stage

Consideration of J-9's 910 turbofan, WP-15 (R-29-300 clone) or PW1120/PW1228 engines, plus consideration of a new engine design (WS-10). Decision to use WP-15 for prototypes, probably hoping to obtaining US engines for production.

Second stage

Tienenman Square freezes Sino-US collaboration. WP-15 cancelled. Eventual decision to use AL-31F for prototypes, and later on initial production, while WS-10/10A design matures.

WP-15 to AL-31F is a much more likely redesign than WP-13 to AL-31F like some reports suggested. R-29-300 is more similar physically to the AL-31F, though heavier and longer.

I don't think a Grumman connection makes much sense, as the J-10 wings are the least Lavi-esque parts of the J-10, except in as much as Grumman were working on Super-7, so some indirect influence might be seen.
 

Deino

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Hmmm ... ??? I just had that idea because it would fit into the timeline from the early 80s untill the end of the Peace-Pearl programme and would fit to other rumours about a "new" US-assisted design during that time !!

Anyway it was just an idea ... THANKs !

Deino
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Well, its certainly possible, but Grumman's involvement in China with Super-7 & J-8B was well reported at the time, and there wasn't a whisper about working on J-10 back then. I think helping designing an advanced new technology fighter might have been a little less acceptable to the US Government than Super-7.
 

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Reagan administration was seriously considering selling F-16s to China in the early 80's, even have them licensed made by Shenyang. Who knows, it could have been the alternative J-11 instead. You can read a little of this in the other thread.
 

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Hi, once again the J-10 got my attention as I did some research for on ongoing project. During that I checked all the notes I collected over the year, additional to some latest information … tried to find out, when, which machine was discovered and so on !

Finally here’s an attempt to redraw the development as a timeline but I added some special notes or my own opinion (in red) which still makes me curious or nervous ! Therefore I ask for Your comments and hopefully Your corrections ! ;D


DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHENGDU JIANJIJI-10 / J-10 “VIGOROUS DRAGON” MULTIROLE FIGHTER

• Initiated in 1984 as “Project 10” by the Chengdu aircraft corporation (CAC) and 611 Institute: proposed powerplant one Type-910 (WS-6) Turbofan-engine, later WP-15 (R-29 licence) … US engine under consideration and then the all new WS-10 (supposedly based on the CFM-56 core).

• between 1984 and 1993 there’s very few information available: some photos of models suggesting several airframe changes related to requirement changes …

• first J-10 proposal was rejected by the PLAAF at around 1992-1993.

• Chengdu went back on the drawing boards and a new design arose to meet the new PLAAF requirements for a larger and more powerful multirole fighter. A full-scale metal mock-up was completed of this new design in 1993 and finally accepted.

Engine mystery: When was decided to request / to consider the Russian AL-31FN ???

• 1994 – 1996: very first prototype no. 01 was built with a pre-series WS-10.

• High-speed taxing performed in early 1996 and the first prototype was set to fly later the same year (some say it actually did).
• Besides that AL-31FN negotiations + contract in 1996 and first engines were delivered during 1997, all the way to 2001.

• successful maiden flight on 23. March 1998 with the first prototype now called J-10A (after a 15-month delay performed by chief test pilot Lei Qiangjia in the afternoon at 2 p.m. o'clock lasting for 40 minutes)

Rumour-time: in late 1997 or 1998 the second flying J-10 no. 02 prototype was lost in a crash which also killed the test pilot. --> is related to a real mishap ...
• Actual near-fatal accident in the year 2000 – probably around June: a not further specified “prototype” had a complete blackout of all its systems because of the Laboratory 618's (?) navigation system failure. Test pilot Li Cunbao refused to abandon the plane to save his life as ordered and managed to restart the APU (?), which finally restarted the electronics and the engine. Since the plane was mentioned the “only” prototype, it would have been disastrous to the program if the plane had crashed. The pilot was awarded and highly decorated for his efforts.

Conclusion ??: These reports may indicate that there was only one flying prototype by the year 2000.
(hmmm ??? I don’t think so)

• No. 02 prototype presumably the static test airframe (similar to the FC-1-programme)

• Nevertheless it seems that the J-10 program continued as scheduled with two more prototypes on the production line or completed by the end of 1998 but none flying (1002 + 1003).

• 20. December 1999: After nearly one year of successful flight testing within the 3rd Flight Regiment at the Wenjiang a/p in Chengdu from the Chengdu Aircraft Corp (CAC) the prototype was transferred to the China Flight Test Establishment (CFTE) in Xian Yanliang to start with its certification flights.
• By late 2000 Chengdu already had produced six prototypes which accumulated at least over 140 flying hours altogether
(= 01, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006).
• Until July 2002 two more improved prototypes (= maybe 1008 + 1009) were delivered.
(Missing 1007 maybe another static test airframe !? )

Still a mystery – that strange yellow prototype and powerplant:

• Latest interview information reveal or suggest that all early prototypes (the dark ones) were powered by the WS-10 …
(still unsure ... therefore early versions of the AL-31FN if not correct)
• Pictures of a strange yellow plane with an all yellow metal nose appear in late 2002 / early 2003: Strangely this particular plane appears to be equipped with an updated avionics suite as shown by RWR (later refitted to all other prototypes) with an AL-31FN installed.
1. Hypothesis: This is the rumoured missing prototype, which flew before the no. 01 … but why with RWR no other aircraft used so long ?
2. Hypothesis: This is an additional “new” prototype (maybe 1010) powered by the AL-31FN to validate the airframe changes for the later pre-production models !?!


Further flight and operational testing:

• beginning of 2002 (May): first deployment of 4 J-10A to the dessert Gobi to conduct the first stage of operational testing.
• first flight of the pre-production model (no. 1011 ?? ) that took place on 28. June 2002 (by that time CAC already had at least ten of these aircraft conducting various tests)

• March 2003: 10 J-10As were delivered to the 13th Operational Trials Regiment assigned to the FTTC in Cangzhou-Cangxian and can be distinguished by carrying grey four-digit numbers (101x).
• A photo released in 2003 shows a pair of J-10As in flight with numbers "1015" and "1016" indicating that at least 6 pre-serial J-10As were built so far (no. 1011 - 1016). Sadly of those machines we only have the numbers “1011” to “1016” on photograph but one can presume that further machines until no. “1019” may also exist.
(I’m still unsure about that as reports say only 6-7 of this block and no aircraft beyond 1016 is granted)
• The flight tests were successful concluded at the end of 2003 including missile fireings and first IFR-tests
• The J-10A received its certification on 15. December 2003. (One of the final test was a simulated intercept mission flown by test pilot Xu Yong against a live target that was hit and destroyed) Until then all machines together completed more than 1700 missions during their 5-year long test phase, which began with the first flight on March 23rd 1998 and was concluded until March 23rd, 2003.
• 30. March 2003: the J-10A was formally introduced into PLAAF-service ! During a ceremony two planes numbered “01” and “05” attended the and demonstrated some acrobatics to higher military officers. By then the report mentioned the planes having been slightly delayed by snow in the Beijing region, suggesting they were already stationed in Beijing MR, assigned to the FTTC.

Mystery: ???
• If production had started at about February 2003 with a rate of about 2 ac/month, would this fit to new aircraft with the numbers 01 – 10 or were these 10 the renumbered 101x-series machines ?? ???
• But then what’s about the aircraft numbered higher than 10 … are they additional serial machines
• Service started about March but certification was in December. Why ?? Is this delay of final certification for nine months from March to December is often related to some ongoing problems, maybe with fire control system ?? … close relation of the operational tests to the NRIET-institute may indicate that.

Conclusion:
Regardless what possibility is true it perfectly fits to the standard PLAAF procedure of having a minimum complement for a regiment of about 20 planes: As indicated by the service–inauguration report the first operational regiment was already stationed in Beijing MR during March 2003. So the 13. Operational Trials Regiment within the FTTC was equipped with about 20 planes made from these two batches and now numbered from “01” to “19”. All these planes wear the light grey and blue-grey two-tone camouflage pattern that look very similar to the pattern of an F-16 or Mirage 2000-5. Besides the duty of Air Defence for the capital these FTTC-planes have the mission to play "Blue Army" or “Blue Flag” Aggressors.


My opinion:

I currently think that there are only 6 pre-production models (1011 – 1016) followed by the first serial batch numbered of serial machines ! As I’m not sure about that single strange picture of no. 18, which looks very similar to a picture of a no. 08 I therefore tend to say that there are only another 9 machines of that first serial block !


The Twin-seater – J-10B:

• first flight of the two-seater J-10B “01” (later re-numbered no. “1021”) on December 26th 2003. In the meantime a further machine numbered “03” (also later renumbered no. “1023”) joined the certification flight. … what’s about number “1020” and “1022” ???? Both prototypes probably later joined the FTTC to complete the 13th Operational Trials Regiment and participate in operational trials and training.
• no. "02" airframe (= “1022”) maybe the static test airframe ??
• State certification was achieved in late 2005
• Beginning of 2007 the twin-sticker is now identified as the J-10S (maybe named after: "shuang" meaning twin or double)


Service deployment within regular PLAAF units:

• 2004: introduction of the J-10A into regular PLAAF regiments within the 44th Division / Yunnan province.

• during 2005: additional air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons tests PL-12 + unguided bombs
• contract with the Russian engine manufacture Lylka Saturn for another 100 engines signed in July 2005 to be delivered between October 2005 and July 2006.
• High production rate reportedly on two production lines: 3. Division under conversion and …

• 2006: Additional rumours say that a regiment of the 1. and 2. Division are in the process of conversion (initial reports of the delivery of 6 to 8 J-10A each so far suggestion a conversion of about 1 regiment per year)

Rumous again for the future:

2007 PLAAF 1st division in Chei-Feng (Sheng-yang MR, 2nd or 3rd regiment?)
2008 PLAAF 19th division in Zheng-Zhou (Ji-nan MR, 56th or 57th regiment?)
2009 PLAAF 6th division in Lin-Tao (Lan-Zhou MR, 16th, 18th, 139th regiment?)
 

Deino

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Assessment – list of all prototypes, pre-production and early production machines:

1996 - 1998: 1 prototype 01 (+ 1 static airframe 02)

1998 - 2000: maybe no more flying prototypes (some quote 6 already built: 01 = 1001 renumbered, 1002 – 1006)

2000 - July 2002: at least a total of 9 prototypes (01, 1002 -1009) … 1007 still missing !!

End of first engine contract – unknown number

from mid 2002:
Production was authorised in 2002 and the first flight of the pre-production model (no. 1011 IMO) took place on June

2003:
Formation of the first regiment with the transfer of 10 machines in March 2003 to the 13th Operational Trials Regiment assigned to the FTTC (presumably 1011-1019 + 01-09).

2004:
Transfer of about least 20 aircraft for the first service regiment (44th Fighter Division) to Kunming-Wujiaba !

End of second engine contract – 54 engines

2005 - 2006:

End of third engine contract – 100 engines until late 2006 (??) … but what’s now ?? ???


Therefore my list of these machines !

CAC Prototypes - all planes confirmed in bolt !

01 later renumbered 001 or 1001
02 maybe static test
1002
1003
1004
1005
later renumbered AVIC 0165
1006
1007
1008
1009


preproduction Prototypes -- at least three have been confirmed and 6 spotted

1010 for my opinion the yellow one as the first with the final AL-31FN (if all earlier were powered by the WS-10 or early AL-31FN ???)
1011
1012
1013
1014
1015
1016

1017 -1019 ??

Two Seater prototypes, both confirmed
1021
1023



FTTC 13th Trials Regiment - Beijing MR

20 aircraft at least (20 aircraft is minimum for fighter regiment)
01, 02, 05, 08, have been spotted, 18 unsure (I would sayis a PS)


O.k. ... I know I'm a little obsessed, but anyway ... and THANKs a lot for Your help ! ;D

Cheers, Deino :D
 

Deino

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Huhu ... no comments ! ??? :-\

I found out that there are some mismatches in the 2002/2003 timeframe ... and esp. the number of aircraft during that time ... ???

Any help ! :-*
 

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There is a pic in the CDF that shows---by directly counting the tails---that at least 18 blue and dark colored blue-green prototypes were made. This doesn't count 01 which stayed at the CFTC, and the yellow nosed prototype, which never had a final coat of paint. Counting those two, you get a straight 20, with 1021 as the first two seater prototype.

The yellow nose prototype I believe could be the first plane with the AL-31FN. This plane should be 1010, even though it remained unpainted.

1022 could be stress test model for the J-10S.

Of the first light blue planes, two were retained by Chengdu. (possibly 1013 and 1016)

Of the first planes that went to the FTTC, they were numbered 01 to 05. 02 and 05 were present in the J-10 acceptance ceremony in March 30, 2003. I don't think these planes are renumbered 101X series, which if renumbered, would take a higher number after the first serial batch. There was a photo of no. 18 as of August 2003. The plane does not have the 3 door front landing gear arrangement.

Additional planes came to the FTTC for the 13th Trials Regiment. These were the first to sport the three door front gear arrangement. So must be later then no. 18 here and have a number higher than 18. One of these planes is featured in that famous photo of a J-10 being refueled in the desert with PL-12 under the wings.

Two of these planes were later transferred to the CFTC. Both of these planes featured the three door front landing gear arrangement. Please note that older planes never had their 2 door landing gear doors upgraded to the current arrangement. These planes were later upgraded with the satlink and is now in the same CFTC test regiment that have the J-8F launching LS-6s and the J-11Bs.

Presumably, at least two J-10S may have gone to the FTTC as well.

Note the real J-10 no. 18 of the FTTC 13th Trials Regiment in ebossed, version with the altered serial numbers on top of it. Note the older two door front gear arrangement.
 

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Deino

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Thanks a lot for Your comment but – I agree with you with that J-10-lineup of 18 machines (even if we don’t know for sure if the last ones are actually the first serial machines lined up together for a presentation or so !!) ??? – I still have problems in three fields / areas !

1. the number of prototypes we know for sure, the year in that we noticed them and therefore …
2. the production rate together with the numbers of engines delivered
3. the very short time from first flight (1989), to pre-production (2002) to production (2003) to service entry (2004 even maybe with limited capability)

Therefore I re-worked my list of the first machines one again with the years in that we saw them first or a number of machines were reported !

CAC Prototypes - all planes confirmed in bolt the year of construction / notice !

01 001 or 1001 built during ‘94-’96; ready maybe 1996 at least ‘98
02 maybe static test built / ready maybe similar ’98 (?)
1002
1003 until ‘99
1004
1005
now AVIC 0165
1006 until 2000
1007
1008
1009
until 2002

… still not 100% sure for 1008 + 1009 as both pictures are of quite bad quality and the reports of 5 prototypes + 2 improved ones (would fit only to 01 + 1002 – 1005 and 1006 + 1007 improved (albeit 1007 never confirmed ... 2. static test maybe or the one damaged by confirmed accident in May 2002 (?) with a fire destroying the entire right flank fuselage)

Pre-production models 101x-numbers at 3rd Test Regiment at CFTC
1010 first pre-serial confirmed 1. flight 28.6.2002
1011
1012
1013
1014
1015
1016
... at least until 1016 confirmed during mid 2003
1017 -1019 ?? … and 1020 ???

Two Seater prototypes, both confirmed
1021 2003
1022 highly likely static test airframe
1023 2003/2004 (?)


FTTC 13th Trials Regiment - Beijing MR … reported as first operational regiment on 30.3.2003
01
02
03
04
05
06
07
08
09
10 … already delivered on 30.3.2003
11 – 18 maybe 20 … maybe delivered until the end of 2003 (18 confirmed at 15.8.

44. FD at the beginning of 2004 with also 10 machines later to the complete regiment strength !


Table of number of aircraft per year:

1989 2 (01 + 02)
1999 2 (1002 + 1003)
2000 3 (1004 – 1006)
2001 3 (1007 – 1009)
2002 10 (1010 – 1019/1020) … until end of first engine contract (unconfirmed numbers)
2003 23-24 (1021 – 1023 + 01 – 18 .. maybe 19 / 20) … fits to reports of 2 aircraft/month + some for ...
2004 for 44. FD similar number until end of second engine contract (54)


Oh god, I love the J-10-mystery !!

Cheers, Deino :D
 

Tam

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Anyone knows the story of the Boeing 908?
 

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overscan (PaulMM)

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According to some reports it placed second in the LWF contest after General Dynamics' Model 401 on a pure merit basis but was too similar to the General Dynamics design to offer enough of a contrast. Therefore the two engined Northrop P-610 was selected instead.

Relevance to J-10 is very hard to see?
 

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