J11/Su-27 Fighter Jet
The Shenyang J-11 (Jianji-11 or Jian-11) is the Chinese copy of the Sukhoi Su-27 (NATo reporting name: Flanker) air-superiority fighter built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC). The basic variant J-11, built using Russian-supplied kits, is identical to the Su-27SK.
The “indigenised” multirole variant J-11B was based on the Su-27SK/J-11 airframe, but fitted with Chinese-built avionics and weapon suite. Future productions of the J-11 will also be powered by the indigenous FWS-10A ‘Taihang’ turbofan jet engine.
In 1992, China became the first non-CIS country to operate the Sukhoi Su-27 fighter. In 1995, Russian agreed in principle to allow the PRC to build the Su-27SK single-seat fighter locally under license. In 1996, Sukhoi Company (JSC) and SAC entered into a contract worth US$2.5 billion for the co-production of 200 Su-27SK fighters as the J-11. Under the terms of the agreement, Sukhoi/KnAAPO would supply the aircraft in kit form to be assembled in SAC. It was reported that Russia also agreed to help the PRC gradually increase the portion of Chinese-made content on the J-11, so that SAC could eventually produce the aircraft independently.
The first kit-built J-11 rolled out in December 1998, but the full-scale production did not commence until 2000 due to technical problems. Russian sources confirmed that 48 aircraft had been produced by 2002, and another 48 between 2002 and 2003. However, SAC hinted as early as 2000 that not all 200 J-11s would be built. In November 2004, Russian media reported that the J-11 production had stopped after about 100 examples were built. According to the report, the Chinese side had requested Sukhoi Company to stop deliveries of the assembly kits. The report citing a source within the PLAAF suggested that the basic variant Su-27SK/J-11 no longer met the PLAAF requirements.
A British magazine said on Monday that new Chinese single- and twin-seat J-11 fighters are probably being produced for the People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF).According to Jane's Defence Weekly, some pictures posted this month on Chinese military websites showed J-11s outside the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation factory.
The J-11s are in a very light grey livery consistent with the PLANAF's Sukhoi Su-30MKK2 fighters, 24 (one regiment) of which were delivered in 2004, Jane’s said.
An unexpected military cooperative exercise between China and Turkey has caught the eye of Washington-based analysts.
The two air forces were involved in a joint air exercise in the central Anatolian province of Konya, the first such exercise involving the air forces of China (People’s Liberation Army Air Force – PLAAF) and NATO member Turkey.
Part of the significance is that the PLAAF recently demonstrated major advances in long-range strike during their own “Peace Mission 2010.”
A number of reasons may have contributed to the stop of the J-11 production. Firstly, the co-production agreement did not include the transfer of avionics and engine technologies, and the Chinese-built J-11 would have to continue relying on the Russian supply of these systems. Secondly, the Russian-made fire-control system on the J-11 is not compatible with the Chinese missiles. As a result, the PLAAF had to import additional R-27 (AA-10) MRAAM and R-73 (AA-11) SRAAM from Russia to support the operations of its J-11s. Thirdly, as a single mission air superiority fighter, the Su-27SK/J-11 could only perform secondary attack missions, and only with “dumb” munitions that include a range of free-fall bombs and unguided rockets.
Sukhoi Company JSC actively marketed its Su-27SKM to the PRC in 2003. The Su-27SKM was a modernised multi-role variant derived from the Su-27SK, but with an improved Zhuk-27 (or N001VEP on the later variant) fire-control radar, and an upgraded cockpit featuring multifunctional displays similar to that of the Su-30MK. However, the aircraft was rejected by the PLAAF in favour of an ‘indigenised’ variant of the J-11.
In mid-2002, SAC unveiled its intention to build an upgraded multirole version of the J-11 by revealing a mock-up aircraft carrying various types of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. Russian sources also confirmed that SAC was pursuing a multirole variant of the J-11 designated J-11B with much greater Chinese-made content. At least three examples (#523, #524, and #525) of the J-11B have been delivered to the China Flight Test Establishment (CFTE) for flight test and evaluation since 2006. The aircraft was based on the Su-27SK/J-11 airframe, but with the following modifications:
* An indigenous multifunctional pulse-Doppler fire-control radar reportedly capable of tracking 6~8 targets and engaging 4 of them simultaneously;
The aircraft could carry the Chinese-made PL-8 IR-homing SRAAM and PL-12 active radar-homing MRAAM for air-to-air combat. While the PLAAF currently has the capability for two-target engagement using the Su-27/-30 and R-77 (AA-12 Adder) combination, successful integration of the PL-12 on the J-11B would likely provide a genuine multi-target engagement capability. The J-11B is also expected to have enhanced air-to-surface attack capabilities with the indigenous precision strike ammunitions such as LT-2 laser-guided bomb, the LS-6 precision-guided glide bomb, the YJ-91 (Kh-31P) anti-radiation missile, and the KD-88 air-to-surface missile.
The controversial J-11B is an unauthorised derivative of the Sukhoi J-11A/Su-27SK, built by Shenyang in China. The aircraft has been the subject of an ongoing dispute between Beijing and Moscow which has caused the suspension of production of the second batch on indigenously manufactured legally licenced J-11A/Su-27SK.
The J-11B is not an exact clone of the Su-27SK, despite the commonly held view this is so. The airframe and engines can be considered to be 'cloned' but the systems are mostly unique to this variant.
PL-12 active guided air-launched anti-aircraft missile
The new PL-12 active guided air-launched anti-aircraft missile uses the radar and data link from Russia's very capable Vympel R-77, combined with a Chinese missile motor. Some sources claim the resulting combination has a greater range than the Russian missile, and a fire-and-forget active guidance (from R-77) capability comparable to the modern U.S. AIM-120 AMRAAM.
The PL-12 is outwardly very similar to the US-designed AIM-120 AMRAAM. The two share a comparable aerodynamic configuration, although the PL-12 is a little longer, wider and heavier than the AMRAAM. The PL-12 has four rear-mounted control fins that each have a very distinctive notch cut into their base. These fins are longer and more prominent than those of the AMRAAM and are cropped at an angle (rather than in line with the missile body). Four larger triangular fins are fixed to the mid-section of the missile. Internally, the leading edge of the centrebody fins is in line with the start of the missile's rocket motor. That motor is a variable-thrust solid rocket booster, that offers two levels of motive power for different sections of the flight envelope.
CATIC is known to be developing X-band and Ku-band active radar seekers, which may be intended for the PL-12. However the latest reports confirm that China has been co-operating closely with Russia's AGAT Research Institute, based in Moscow, and that AGAT is the source of the PL-12's essential active seeker. This joint development effort (perhaps with the name 'Project 129') has reportedly seen the supply of AGAT's 9B-1348 active-radar seeker (developed for the Vympel R-77, AA-12 'Adder') to China for integration with the Chinese-developed missile. Alternatively, technology from AGAT's 9B-1103M seeker family may be offered to China. Russia is also the source for the missile's inertial navigation system and datalink.
The PL-12 has four engagement modes. To take the greatest advantage of its maximum range it will use a mix of command guidance (via a datalink) plus its own inertial guidance before entering the active radar terminal guidance phase. The missile can also be launched to a pre-selected point, using its strap-down inertial system, before switching on its own seeker for a terminal search. Over short ranges the missile can be launched in a 'fire-and-forget' mode using its own active seeker from the outset. Finally, the PL-12 has a 'home-on-jam' mode that allows it to passively track and engage an emitting target, without ever using its own active radar or a radar from the launch aircraft. This capability is the foundation on which the capability of anti-radiation missile is developed. The seeker is connected to a digital flight control system that uses signal processing techniques to track a target. The missile's warhead is linked to a laser proximity fuse.
The PL-12 is claimed to have an operational ceiling of at least 21 km, with a maximum effective range of 100 km and a minimum engagement range of 1,000 m. The missile has a 38+ g manoeuvering limit and, according to CATIC, it has been tested for a 100-hour captive 'live flight' life. According to Chinese claims, PL-12 is more capable than the American AIM-120 A/B, but slightly inferior than the AIM-120C.
During the 6th Zhuhai Air Show held between 31 October and 5 November 2006, China revealed first official details about the indigenously developed FWS-10A ‘TaiHang’ turbofan engine. The engine had already been successfully tested on a modified Su-27K fighter and possibly on some J-11 airframes too. The engine is understood to be similar to the Russian Lyulka-Saturn AL-31F turbofan engine in both technology and performance. However, it is unclear whether the FWS-10A has already been fitted on the 'indigenised' variant of the J-11.
China's production of J-11B fighters using Russian technology has become the latest bone of contention in the military cooperation between the two countries, following prolonged problems over an IL-76 transport aircraft deal.
An authoritative source from the Russian military industry says that Russia has officially notified China that the latter's production of J-11B fighters is a violation of the original agreement between the two sides. If Russia cannot get a satisfactory response from China, it reserves the right to take legal action to protect its property rights, the source said.
Many sources from the Russian military industry are upset over China's production of J-11B fighters. According to the Su-27SK Fighter Technology Transfer Agreement reached between China and Russia in 1995, Russia would supply to China first 95 then an additional 105 sets of parts to assemble Su-27 fighters. The domestic production of the Su-27SKs was to proceed with assistance from the Russian side through the transfer of technology.
The agreement explicitly outlined the specific areas of technology transfer and the corresponding schedule. In the course of assembling the planned 200 Su-27SKs, all the core component parts including the engines, radar systems and avionics equipment was to be supplied by the Russian company. Russia had already made preparations in 2004 for the delivery of 105 sets of parts for assembly and all the related equipment had been put in place.
Right from the start, the Russians noticed that China's practices were very different from those of India, with whom they were also conducting military technology transfers.
In the first place, the Chinese were very sensitive, and exhibited a strong distrust for their Russian counterparts. Russians were not allowed in the production workshops of the J-11 fighters.
Later in 2004, the Chinese abruptly notified the Russians that they no longer needed the 105 sets of Su-27 components. They complained that the fighter's radar technology was out of date. The Russians therefore upgraded 70 Su-27SKs and a small number of J-11s with RVV-AE active radar guided air-to-air missiles. The Russians proposed the same upgrade for the remaining batch of 105 sets of parts, but China did not respond.
Around the same time, a series of incidents occurred in which Chinese nationals attempted to acquire Su-27SK component parts and production blueprints through illegal means. They were caught in the Russian Far East by the Federal Anti-espionage Agency, according to one Russian source.
From 2005, China imported a number of AL-31F engines and some other parts, saying they needed them for repairs on the fighters. Soon after that, the Russians discovered that the Shenyang Aircraft Company was manufacturing a fighter called the J-11B. Though the Chinese claimed it was a newly designed aircraft, Russian experts believed the J-11B was an exact imitation of the Su-27SK. The Chinese had violated the terms of the technology transfer agreement by creating their own indigenous version of the Russian aircraft.
This is similar to what occurred with regard to the Z-10 combat helicopter China built after importing engines from Canada, claiming they were to be used for civilian helicopters.
The Russian military industry has not made clear what legal action it will take if it is convinced that China violated Russian intellectual property rights. However, a civil aviation technology analyst based in Moscow says that the J-11B incident will surely have a major impact on cooperation between China and Russia in the aviation industry.
Russia is now conducting a full assessment of the importance of the Chinese arms market to the Russian military industry. Some analysts believe that Russia is already switching its priority to other markets because of China's failure to fulfill its commitments. Under this circumstance, the likelihood that Russia will export Su-35 and Su-33 fighters to China is growing smaller. New obstacles may also interrupt the export of additional AL-31F engines and Su-27SK component parts to China.
Russia's economic recovery in the past few years means that money is no longer the only consideration in deciding where to export its military technology.
Even if Russia imposes sanctions against China over the production of the J-11B fighters, production of the aircraft is unlikely to be affected. China has already imported what it needs from Russia, including 180 AL-31F engines that will arrive later this year. Also, since beginning the J-11B production, China has reinforced its cooperation with the Ukrainian and Belarus aviation industries.
An upgrade of the Su-27SK's avionics equipment was assisted by technology from the Minsk No. 558 Factory, while the Ukrainian Migremont Factory helped China in the repair and maintenance of fuselages. A chart showing the production of the J-11B on open display at the 2006 Zhuhai Air Show revealed that already 80 percent of its parts were manufactured domestically.
A source from the Chinese aviation industry said the Shenyang Aircraft Company suffers from low production efficiency, unlike the Chengdu Aircraft Company, which has received a series of domestic awards. The Chengdu company has already manufactured 120 J-10A fighters. It had been building J-7Es until 2007, but that production line will be officially closed within this year so as to put full attention to the manufacture of additional J-10As. A second J-10A production line is expected.
The above information suggests that due to low production efficiency, the first phase production of J-11Bs is intended mainly to meet the demand of the PLA Air Force. The possibility that China will export the aircraft is very slim. This is what concerns Russia. Under the original Su-27SK production transfer agreement, the 200 J-11 fighters should not be exported to any third country. Yet Russia suspects that China's intention in suspending the J-11 production agreement ahead of time is to develop the J-11B export market independently.
There has been speculation that Shenyang is currently developing a two-seater version of the J-11B, possibly designated J-11BS. The aircraft was said to be similar to the Su-27UBK fighter-trainer, but fitted with Chinese-made powerplant, avionics, and weapon suite.
Click to view: J-11A Avonics