Wall Street Journal – China has reached a tipping point: It now can produce many of its own advanced weapons—including high-tech fighter jets like the Su-27—and is on the verge of its own aircraft carrier Chinese engineers cloned the prized Su-27’s avionics and radar but they are fitting it with the last piece in the technological puzzle, a Chinese jet engine. China is starting to export much of this weaponry, undercutting Russia in the developing world, and potentially altering the military balance in several of the world’s flash points. China accounted for 2% of global arms transfers between 2005-2009, putting it in ninth place among exporters, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The J-11B, a Chinese fighter that Russian officials allege is a direct copy of the Su-27, a one-seat fighter that was developed by the Soviets through the 1970s and 1980s as a match for the U.S. F-15 and F-16. The J-11B looked almost identical to the Su-27, but China said it was 90% indigenous and included more advanced Chinese avionics and radars.
From 1992-2008, Russia was China’s biggest arms supplier, providing $20 billion to $30 billion of fighters, destroyers, submarines, tanks and missiles.
Russia’s initial response was to suspend talks on selling China the Su-33, a fighter with folding wings that can be used on aircraft carriers. Since then, however, it has re-opened negotiations on the Su-33, although it rejected China’s offer to buy just two, and insisted on a larger order. Sukhoi also hopes to sell China the Su-35—a more advanced version of the Su-27. China may have reverse engineered an Su-33 prototype it acquired in 2001 from the Ukraine.
China is offering the JF-17 for $10 million less than Russia’s $30 million MiG-29.
China is 8-10 years from making a F22 like stealth fighter.
• ENGINE — Originally fitted with Russian AL31F engine, now being fitted with Chinese WS-10A
• RANGE — 3,200 miles (with one aerial re-fueling)
• SPEED — Mach 2.35 (1,600 mph)
• RADAR — Indigenous radar capable of tracking 6-8 targets, and engaging 4, simultaneously
• WEAPONS — PL-8 and PL-12 air-to-air missiles, LT-2 laser-guided bomb, LS-6 precision-guided glide bomb, 30mm cannon
• ESTIMATED NUMBER IN CHINESE AIR FORCE — 50
China has the DF-5 missile with 13,000 kilometer range (about 8000 mile range) and the DF-31A missile (7000-7500 mile range).
China is estimated to have under 15 DF-31 missiles and under 15 DF-31A missiles in inventory. It is designed to carry a single 1,000kT thermal nuclear warhead. It is a land-based variant of the submarine launched JL-2. The Dong Feng 31 is a long-range, road-mobile, three stage, solid propellant intercontinental ballistic missile in the Dongfeng missile series. The DF-31A is believed to have incorporated many advanced technologies similar to current generation Russian ICBMs, including the use of penetration aids such as decoys or chaff and maneuverable reentry vehicles to complicate enemy’s missile warning and defense system. DF-31A possibly has MIRV capability to hold 3 warheads each capable of a 20-150 kT yield, and penetration and decoy aids to complicate missile defense efforts.
Jane’s Defence asserted that the JL-2 missile can deliver 3 to 4 MIRVs, each with a yield of 90 kt or a single warhead of 25 to 1,000 kt yield. The JL-2 SLBMs are carried on the new Chinese Type 094 (Jin-class) submarine. It replaces the earlier first-generation JL-1 SLBM which were primarily deployed by the older Type 092 (Xia-class) nuclear submarine. The JL-2 missile is expected to provide China with its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent. The expected operational range of the missile (up to 8,000 km or 5,000 miles) will allow it to reach Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Russia, and India but not the continental United States from Chinese littoral waters (Bohai Sea or South China Sea).
The Type 094 nuclear submarine is capable of carrying 12 of the more modern JL-2s. The United States Department of Defense estimated that one Type 094 “may soon enter service”, and that “up to five” would be in service by 2010. The type 092, type 094 and type 096 are nuclear powered.
The Type 096 is under development and is expected to hold 24 missiles.
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