Air Platforms

China marks aviation milestones with J-10B production, second Y-20 prototype flight

22 December 2013
This image of a production series J-10B at the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation's test field appeared in December. Source: via CJDBY web page

China marked the end of 2013 with milestones for two major military aircraft programmes: the start of series production of the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) J-10B fighter and a maiden flight for the second prototype of the Xian Aircraft Corporation's Y-20 heavy transport.

In early December, images of two new Chengdu J-10B fighters with temporary tail numbers 101 and 103 appeared on Chinese military websites. Together with images of the J-10B production line that first appeared in July 2013, it is credible that serial production has started for this advanced version of the J-10, which first appeared in March 2009.

Chengdu has also produced more than 250 J-10A and twin-seat J-10S fighters, which are in service with the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and the PLA Navy Air Force (PLANAF).

The J-10B's key differences to the J-10A include a redesigned chin intake, with the lower edge now angled forward and movable ramp replaced by a smaller, fixed, diffuser bulge that also contributes to reduced weight and radar cross-section; a longer nose radome that is believed to house an NRIET active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar; and an electro-optic (EO) targeting sensor (IRST and laser rangefinder) mounted just forward of the windscreen, offset to starboard. It also has a new electronic warning or countermeasures pod atop the vertical stabiliser.

The J-10B will carry the same array of air-to-air and ground-attack weapons as the J-10A, to include a new twin-missile pylon for the Luoyang PL-12 active radar-guided air-to-air missile (AAM). Its more powerful AESA radar may also enable use of a new larger AAM first seen on a Chengdu J-20 prototype fighter earlier in 2013 and the new CASIC CM-400AKG near-hypersonic ground-attack/anti-ship missile.

A screengrab showing the first flight of the second Xian Aircraft Corporation's Y-20 prototype. (via CJDBY web page)A screengrab showing the first flight of the second Xian Aircraft Corporation's Y-20 prototype. (via CJDBY web page)

The new-production J-10Bs, however, still use the same Russian Saturn AL-31FN turbofan as the J-10A. A prototype of the J-10B equipped with a version of the Shenyang-Liming WS-10A turbofan appeared in July 2011. However, limited access to this powerplant may mean that Shenyang Aircraft Corporation fighters such as the J-11B and J-15 carrier fighter have priority.

Meanwhile, a second prototype of Xian's Y-20 transport flew for the first time on 16 December, following the initial flight of the first prototype on 26 January 2013. Video of the flight posted on a Chinese military website suggested no outward differences between the two prototypes.

The second prototype is also powered by Russian 12-ton thrust Soloviev D-30KP turbofans. China is developing at least three high-bypass turbofans, although the reported 13-ton thrust WS-20, a derivative of the Shenyang-Liming WS-10A fighter turbofan, may be the first to power the Y-20. With the WS-20 installed, the Y-20 is expected to reach its full potential payload of more than 60 tons.

A report from a Hubei City television news programme noted that the PLA may take delivery of initial production versions of the Y-20 in 2017. The report also claimed that China had started discussions for the Y-20 with an unidentified foreign customer.



(488 words)
By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and our Terms of Use of this site.

RELEVANT PROFILE LISTINGS

  • Cyber Technology CyBird

    Type Recoverable aerial target. Development Designed as a reusable platform for a variety of payloads. Typical applications include R & D of payloads for target tracking, fire control systems, and radar or EW range trials. The most recent version appears to be the Cybird VX. Description

  • Dirgantara Gandiwa

    Type Attack helicopter. Programme Project revealed early 2012, but no further reports by mid-2014, and no mention on company website, thus status uncertain. (Name specifically refers to Gandiva, the bow of Hindu deity Arjuna [Rajuna].) Design Features Based on Bell 412. Slimmed fuselage;

  • IAMI (HESA) Ir.An-140 Faraz

    Type Twin-turboprop airliner. Programme Licence-built Antonov An-140. Selected by Iran in 1995, against competition from 12 other contenders; initial agreement leading to Iranian manufacture signed February 1996; first stage is assembly from imported KhGAPP CKD kits (first two kits received by

  • Meggitt Voodoo

    Type Recoverable aerial target. Development Designed to utilise proven aerospace/motor sport manufacturing techniques to provide high performance at low cost. Public debut at Paris Air Show, June 2001, following maiden flight early that year and further testing in desert conditions. Description

  • SAIRC Shahed 278

    Type Light utility single-engine helicopter. Programme Locally redesigned Bell 206 JetRanger. Three prototypes, first of which made maiden flight late 1997 or early 1998; most-flown prototype had accumulated 200 hours by March 2001. Public debut at Iran International air show in October/November

ADVERTISEMENT

Industry Links

IHS Jane's is not responsible for the content within or linking from Industry Links pages.
ADVERTISEMENT