Thursday, November 6, 2008

Airshow China 2008: First Impressions

The on-going aerospace expo in Zhuhai from November 4 to 8 will be remembered for the sheer new types of UAVs, UCAVs and air defence systems—all indigenous—that have been unveiled by China’s gigantic military-industrial complex. No less than three new types of MALE UAVs and an equal number of MALE/HALE UCAVs were showcased at the expo. The most interesting exhibits—however—the indigenous J-10A medium multi-role combat aircraft now in series-production at Chengdu Aircraft Corp’s (CAC) facilities in Chengdu; and scale-models displayed by Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp/Sukhoi Aircraft Corp of the Su-35MKK and Su-33MKK heavy multi-role combat aircraft that are due to be acquired by the PLA Air Force and the PLA Navy in the near future. Present plans of the PLA Air Force call for the acquisition of 38 Su-35MKKs whose primary armaments package will include Novator’s KS-172 long-range air combat missile as well as the Yakhont multi-role supersonic cruise missile from NPO Mashinostroineyie. Interestingly, the Yakhonts will be upgraded will an all-digital navigation-and-guidance system developed by Russia’s JSC Konstern Avionika. Therefore, it is now a distinct possibility that the Yakhont-equipped Su-35MKKs will become operational much earlier than the BrahMos-equipped Su-30MKI. The Yakhonts will also be on board the Su-33MKKs, eight of which are on the verge of being ordered by the PLA Navy. These aircraft will also be armed with the 220km-range C-705 subsonic anti-ship cruise missile, which was unveiled by CPMIEC at Airshow China 2008 and which bears a close resemblance to the Novator-built 3M14E Club. The Su-33MKKs will be based at a newly upgraded air base in Inner Mongolia, where a land-based ski-ramp was recently commissioned by the PLA Navy for imparting flying training to the Su-33MKK aircrew.

The J-10A, two of which are giving daily flying displays, will be joined by a tandem-seat J-10B at Chengdu after the conclusion of the expo and these three aircraft will be evaluated by a seven-member team of test-pilots and ground crew hailing from the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), which has already confirmed its intention to procure an initial 34 J-10As and four J-10Bs. The PAF will designate this aircraft-type as the FC-20. The J-10As showcased at Zhuhai are equipped with a comprehensive defensive aids-suite comprising radar warning receivers, missile approach warning system, an internal EW jammer, as well as a SATCOM system used for both communications as well as navigation. In fact, the on-going deployment of the ‘Beidou’ regional constellation of GPS navigation satellites by China has resulted in both the PLA Navy and PLA Air Force beginning to induct in large numbers a variety of GPS-guided precision-guided munitions, including the FT-3 and FT-5 small diameter bombs, LT-3 PGM, and LS-3 glide bomb. Needless to say, such PGMs will also be specified by the PAF for its FC-20s.—Prasun K. Sengupta


Anonymous said...


i saw j10 video it was flying like a brick or its pilot didn't want to show manouverability of aircraft

Anonymous said...


when will india have Novator’s KS-172 long-range air combat missile

and no contender v r considering for MRCA is able to carry KS-172

MRCA is for medium aircraft but acquiring cost of rafale and typhoon is more than su35bm and same for lifecycle cost

and v already have infra for su30
so having some su35bm not going to
create problems rather than acquiring all new fighter with all new infrastucture

and capability su35bm provides which no other can provide.

chinks already have 400 flakers and they want to buy more su35,so y not consider su35bm for in our MRCA as well its worth looking at.

Anonymous said...

Therefore, it is now a distinct possibility that the Yakhont-equipped Su-35MKKs will become operational much earlier than the BrahMos-equipped Su-30MKI
what is the difference between yakhont and brahmos

and china acquiring 8 su33 after some time they will unveil their own naval narient of su33

Prasun K Sengupta said...

The J-10A's aerobatic routine lasts 20 minutes and it is a very manoeuvrable aircraft and its STOL capabilities are impressive.

As far as the Yakhont is concerned, the variant for China is as advanced as the BrahMos in ALL respects. And it is also this version that will enter service with the Russian armed forces well, not the BrahMos. This variant of the Yakhont is also likely to be exported to Venezuela and Syria. That's why Russia has developed it as the BrahMos cannot be sold to the above-mentioned countries. This is what the Rosoboronexport officials at Zhuhai told me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun, given Pakistan's balance of payment situation ($6.9 Billion in forex reserves and declining at @ $500 million per week) where will it get the funds for this procurement ( and the new F16's; SAAB AEW's; Il-78 Refuelers) ????? and that's only the PAF, there are no funds for the new Defense HQ where construction has been stopped, what about the Navy (Frigates and Subs) and Army ??

Anonymous said...

What about the Arjun tank?

Anonymous said...

to anon above

don't worry about funds

if pakis can say "they will eat grass to get nukes"

their GOVT. is a prostitute and has been and will b fucked by their ISI and army and these three paki agencies can/will sell themself to buy all these weapons mentioned above to rival india , u will c it shortly

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Sengupta,

Congrats on an excellent blog.

I have a few questions, I hope you can answer them?

1. What is the difference in capabilities viz a viz Su 30mki and Su35/33/30mkk as heard you mention that only Su 30mki is MR.

2. Is there a MLU-type plan to fit Su 35BM engines in Su-30mki & if not what will be the fate of Irbis-E which India co-developed.

3. What is the purpose of developing Brahmos If Yakhont is equal in all respects? And what is the Indian contribution to Yakhont? And why is Yakont compatible with SU 33/35MKK and Brahmos still after so many years not integrated with Su 30mki?


golam678 said...


Su-33 / 35MKK: is it better than su30 mki?

JF17: Any information you obtained on that sino-porki piece of trash? Will PLAAF accept it into service?

Thanks in advance for your ever prompt replies.

curious whether.. said...

J10 and Tejas in the same league??

- Selva

su33 is a naval plane. why base it at landlocked inner mongolia? and what other missiles r in the same class as ks172? tq ------- said...


su33 is a naval plane. why base it at landlocked inner mongolia? and what other missiles r in the same class as ks172? tq ------- said...

su33 is a naval plane. why base it at landlocked inner mongolia? and what other missiles r in the same class as ks172? tq -------

Anonymous said...

to anon at 6.09 AM

. What is the difference in capabilities viz a viz Su 30mki and Su35/33/30mkk as heard you mention that only Su 30mki is MR.

2. Is there a MLU-type plan to fit Su 35BM engines in Su-30mki & if not what will be the fate of Irbis-E which India co-developed.

3. What is the purpose of developing Brahmos If Yakhont is equal in all respects? And what is the Indian contribution to Yakhont? And why is Yakont compatible with SU 33/35MKK and Brahmos still after so many years not integrated with Su 30mki?
su33,su30mkk,su30mki all r MULTI role aircraft means all can carry standard russian air to air missiles,air to ground weapons,standoff weapons, anti ship weapons,SAR IMAGERY(RECCE),AND BEST FOR long range and with excellent payload.

moreover there is naval varient
su33 used from aircraft carrier and if equipped with irbis e radar it beats all carrier based aircraft
in all parameters

but new su35bm is much ahead cuz its rcs is much better than mki and much better thrust/weight ratio than mki cuz its supercruising 117S engine has 3% larger diameter than original
AL31 engine and so there is need to increase the air intake if 117S engine to b fitted on MKI

and about yakhont/brahmos i am not sure that how yahkont is available before than brahmos

Anonymous said...


just c this picture it shows that a indian navy sea harrier carrying israeli jammer

does it mean it was trying to get frequencies from f18 radar

Anonymous said...

i think drdo's baby 'arjun' is f**k by great indain army.......

Anonymous said...

arjun tank is already tested many times,no other country test tanks so long like this,this shows curruption in armed forces

arjun has better armour than t90,its engine is world class made by MTU which was sabotaged by army offcials(sons of bitches)

Anonymous said...

same thing for IAF they can't even choose MRCA contender no country does like ours

Anonymous said...

not only in mrca but also light helicopters, akash induction,naval dhruv, infrantry....all r on a same path......i think no 'humans' in our army......big challenges to design & produce products,,,but army has no time to induct it which had already can we proud on products which r "made in india"?

chex said...

prasun sir...v all appriciate ur affort by this blog....but sir their is a REQUEST to u.,to make ur article not in too much techical....becoz v r only common ppl who r only interested in things(indian defence)...v dont know technical things . it can make us more borring sir...dont write to much in brief.....yes, after publishing article when u get comments, then answer it in technical by discussion, article made more by bcoz of too much technical data, u cant get too much compared to shiv or ajay's first make ppl confuse then, correct it by discussion....i think thats the way to more luck

kabluey said...

not enough anonymous........u have to sought more.and more...and more......................for arjun tank........nobody hiring u.......once more anonymous!!!!!!!!!majja aa gaya

rim said...

dont waste time to discussion on foreign products......make discuss on indian products.will help to wake up our army!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

aakaash missile is not a point defence sysce system like TOR,SPYDER,BARAK its more like shtil missile,

trishul missile was a pint defence system but it didn't come to fuctify but IAF want point defence from akaash missile which is simply impossible

just like army screwing up arjun tank IAF is screwing up akaash missile despite knowing that its not built for point defence

Anonymous said...

new Project 22350 (Admiral Sergei Gorshkov class frigate) offered from russia just take a look

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@7:35PM: As far as payments go, it is not all settled as a one-off lump-sum. payment is made in progressive tranches that are usually carried out over a 10-year period. As far as Pakistan's immediate financial crisis is concerned, I'm sure the Chinese, Saudis and the UAE will have the requisite funds in place for an immediate bail-out.

To Anon@6:09AM: There is a well laid-out plan for increasing the thrust rating of the existing AL-31FP and chances are that this very uprated turbofan will also become the FGFA's powerplant. The same also goes for the AESA destined for both the Su-30MKI and FGFA. Lastly, as for the BrahMos/Yakhont, the BrahMos is India-specific and contains not only India-developed hardware, but also some critical Israeli hardware like highly miniaturised tweo-way data links. Secondly, the BrahMos is multi-role and is capable of maritime strike as well as land attack, which the Yakhont (destined for export customers) is not. The PLA Navy has specified an air-launched variant of the Yakhont and that is exactly what Russia has developed. It is this variant of the Yakhont that will also be exported to Venezuela. The problem with co-developing weapon systems is that either of the two partners may sometimes disagree in terms of export strategies. Fpor instance, India is not agreeable to exporting the BrahMos to some countries, while Russia is not agreeable to to exporting the BrahMos to some other countries. Therefore, India has no other choice but to live with this reality.

To Golam678@7:06AM: Both the Su-33MKK and Su-35MKK for the PLA Navy and PLA Air Force will have 98% Russia-sourced hardware, unlike the Su-30MKI. But Don;t be surprised at all if these aircraft are modified by the Chinese into highly network-centric platforms. I for one was amazed to see the rapid strides made by Chinese aerospace industry OEMs in developing such technologies and ALL their frontline combat aircraft, transport aircraft and even LIFTs like the L-15 have SATCOM antennae on board! The single biggest advantage China now has over India is that the former now has its own regional constellation of GPS navigation satellites, while India is still to deploy one. India's access to GLONASS' Py-codes is conditional and is therefore not always desirable.
Regarding the JF-17, it will not enter service with either the PLA Air Force or the PLA Navy. It is very much for export, just as the Northrop Grumman F-5 was. But R & D work is now underway to develop a stealthy variant of the JF-17 as well as a tandem-seat OCU variant of this aircraft.

To Selva@7:08AM: The J-10A is a M-MRCA and is therefore heavier than the Tejas LCA, which is a light MRCA like the JF-17. Also, the J-10 was designed a decade ago and less than 10% of its airframe is made of composites. The Tejas on the other hand has more than 45% of its fuselage made of composites.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

It is in Inner Mongolia that most of China's experimental flight-test establishments (for both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters) are located and the other advantage of this region is the unrestricted airspace available for training flights. These are the two main reasons why the land-based STOBAR facility of the PLA Navy is located there.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@11:50AM: The jammer on board the Sea Harrier FRS Mk51 is ELTA's EL/L-8222 jammer. Jammers are not used for building up electronic threat libraries. For that you require ELINT sensors, which the EL/L-8222 is not.

To Anon@1:07PM" Are yaar, why are you jumping to conclusions? Maybe this time it will be the T-90S that will get fucked by the Arjun Mk1 during the comparative trials. Have faith. Even Army HQ now knows very well that the problem with Arjun Mk1 MBT is not its design or performance parameters. They are merely QC-related production problems that is always the case with any low-rate production venture. The Arjun Mk1 MBT's production facility in Avadi is no exception.

Anonymous said...


Some questions:
Is India even trying to reverse-engineer or develop from scratch, the engines for Brahmos? (Export has been seriously hampered due to Russia promoting the sale of Yakhont as a competitor)

What about the HSTDV testing? wasnt it scheduled for late 2008?

dr. blogger said...

prasun...........whats will special about that trials..which will be carrying within sm months??????...any head or VIP? to observe arjun performance this time?.......or as per every will reply that arjun have that problem..this problem........may be this time they coming out with more defects in arjun.......prblm is that they dont have intention to induct it....

Anonymous said...

nowdays tanks r easier targets

all tanks have one weakness their hulls and suspension,cuz if turret can't b defeated the hulls of tanks can b defeated or even their can c b destroyed and this is enough to make a tank useless

all say russian tank r inferior,the main difference is only turret,western tanks have heavier turret compared to russian tanks but what about hulls

biggest weakness of tank is its hull,engine,tracks all these things r vulnerable, engine and track can b destroyed even by older RPG and its enough to make a tank useless

and israeli merkava4 has been destroyed by lebanese using russian kornet anti tank missiles

and today especially vulnerable to cluster munitions

fuck t90 fuck army said...

t90 is a mother fucked tank son of bitch army only wants it watta joke n they complaint that arjun's turret is not sharp shaped this and that for the sake of complaining. hey prasun friend, y not u give a run down on Arjun?

Max said...


Yes it's high time you give a run down on Arjun

Anonymous said...

DRDO has successfully flight-tested state-of-art 600 Km canisterised surface-to-surface missile system named ‘SHOURYA’ from ITR Balasore on12th November 08 at 1125 hours. This developmental flight trial of ‘SHOURYA’ missile system is a part of ongoing technology development work undertaken by DRDO. This is still not a user requirement yet.

The Missile system has a unique feature of simplicity of operation and maintenance. The canisterised missile system can be easily handled, transported and stored within the canister for longer shelf life. The high manoeurability of the missile makes it less vulnerable to available anti missile defence systems

prasun my dear defense pro friend,

1. is this shourya a surface2surface missile or a version of the K2 slbm?

2. will it altogether be a new missile complementing agin and prithvi?

3. Is it a ballistic missile?

4. What's the point of developing a new 600km missile at this point of time?

ok. in general, please share whatever u know about this missile.

warm regards

Anonymous said...

Reports that it is a land based version of K15 has been denied by DRDO.

But since we have Agni-I and prithvi series which currently covers this range, we would like to know the difference. May be this is solid propellant version with higher mobility and accuracy. But wont it take time for testing and mass production - enuff numbers to replace existing missles?

asin said...

knock knock prasun are you there?

Anonymous said...

Please give us something on the Arjun Tank



Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Max, Asin, Anon et all: As expected, I’m totally overwhelmed by the sheer size and complexity of Airshow China 2009, especially in terms of the new products (PGMs, VSHORADS, E-SHORADS, UCAVs, mini- and micro-UAVs, avionics, etc) that were showcased. Have just finished captioning the more than 1,500 photos of exhibits (and their info posters) and now comes the hard task of writing the narrative (show report). Therefore, kindly bear with me for another week at least for the next update on the blog. Now, to answer your queries:
1) The forthcoming comparative trials of the T-90S and Arjun Mk1 will primarily involve putting both MBTs through identical operational scenarios in which their firepower and mobility parameters will be compared. It will actually be competitive trials.
2) Direct reverse-engineering of any component of BrahMos is ruled out as it will be clear violation of the bilateral industrial cooperation agreement between India and Russia. India will have to live with the reality of the BrahMos being deployed with only India’s armed forces and not being exported. However, ‘incorporation’ of some of the technologies (like the directional thrusters seen on the warhead casing of the Shourya missile) from the BrahMos remains a distinct possibility.
3) Turning now to the Shourya, both the photos of the test-launch and the accompanying DRDO statement reveal everything. Let’s take this a step further. Firstly, you need to put this development in context by bearing in mind the recent Indian Army disclosure that it wants to construct a series of underground tunnels. What was not said, however, was that these so-called tunnels are in fact going to be hardened caverns to be used for storing tactical strike missile systems (and their command-and-control systems) like the Shourya, similar to what the Chinese have done in Sichuan and what they are now doing in Tibet. Going by past practice, it is up to the DRDO to first demonstrate the technologies required for such missile systems and their command-and-control networks before a user-requirement is drafted and this explains why the Shourya has been classified as an on-going technology development effort. Hence, the DRDO had to develop a missile system that is mobile (both by road and by air) and which can be quickly deployed and fired and this explains the missile’s solid propellant-based rocket propulsion. The reason why the missile has been canisterised is that it is totally insulated from the vagaries of the weather when deployed on board a 12 x 12 transporter-erector-launcher (SLBMs in contrast are not canisterised, but are loaded directly into their vertical launch silos and therefore the Shourya has nothing to do with the K-15 or Sagarika Project office). Next, as the DRDO statement says, the Shourya is a surface-to-surface missile, and not a ballistic missile. This is further proven by the existence of directional thrusters, which are used primarily to shape the cruise trajectory of the missile in the post-boost phase. Therefore, expect the Shourya to have the same type of non-ballistic (but cruise) flight trajectory as the BrahMos in the post-boost phase. For purposes of accuracy, also expect the Shourya to have on-board GPS receivers for the second-stage’s terminal guidance. Now, when you put all these inputs together, what you have is a precision-guided surface-to-surface missile that can be used for both pinpoint conventional strikes as well as nuclear strikes when using tactical nuclear (neutron) warheads. It needs to be borne in mind that the majority of nuclear warheads presently deployed by China and Pakistan against India are of the tactical nuclear type, and not the kind of boosted-fission or thermonuclear warheads. Therefore, India too needs to deploy a missile tipped with a tactical nuclear warhead, and which can also survive interception by ballistic missile defence systems. All this explains why the Shourya is being developed and demonstrated as a manoeuvrable, land-mobile surface-to-surface missile (not ballistic) for tactical conventional/nuclear strike and that too primarily against targets inside China, like those in Sichuan and the Tibet Autonomous Region. In my view, it is highly unlikely that the Shourya will be deployed against Pakistan as the Prithvi and BrahMos are more than enough for delivering highly destructive and lethal conventional strikes deep within Pakistan. But when it comes to deploying tactical missiles in mountainous terrain and against high-value targets in depth (between 300km and 600km) what one needs is a system that can be rapidly deployed and launched without too large a logistics tail, and this is where a system like the Shourya comes into play. It is thus a China-specific precision-guided weapon.

maurice said...


Why the IAF taking so long to fit the Brahmos on their Su30 multi-role aircrafts?Is it due to lack of funds or DRDO having technical difficulties to integrate the Brahmos missiles on the aircraft?

Anonymous said...

Is there info about the warhead capacity versus distance for shourya?

Shourya means?

Anonymous said...

shaurya means courage.
there is a military medal called shaurya chakra.

how many times do you guys have to ask ?

Max said...


Wow, an explanation like that (on Shourya) was what I was seeking! Thanks!

1. Are the tunnels you're talking about in Sichuan a.k.a missile silos? Is it the same thing? If India's contemplating some of those, do you have any idea of the location (i.e. which state)? Please elaborate on the Army's tunnel plan.

2. Do you have information whether this is just a technology demostrator for a longer range system or is it gonna be the definitive design (in a series)? I'm asking because if what you say is true, 600/700km wouldn't be enough to be China specific. At the same time, why officially name a technology demostrator (i.e. Shourya)?

3. Thirdly, do you have information when it will / is expected to be deployed / inducted by the army?

4. Regarding the Arjun "controversy", will the army opt for more Arjuns over and above the order of 124 units, and shelve their plans for additional T90s in case the results of those tests are in favour of Arjun? I highly doubt it.


Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Maurice: The reason why the Su-30MKI has not yet been armed with the BrahMos is because the IAF has not yet specified an operational requirement for it. Money isn't the problem.

To Max: The hardened tunnels of the type the PLA has are storage areas within mountain ranges from which the missile TELs emerge and proceed to nearby pre-surveyed areas for missile launch. They are not silos. The Indian Army wants to have a similar network of hardened storage and launch sites all along the Sino-Indian border, especially in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
At the moment the Shourya is a technology demonstrator but its operational variant will have a range of up to 900km. The idea is not to hit targets deep within the PRC, but within the tactical depth areas within the Sichuan Province and Tibet Autonomous Region only. As regards the probable time of induction, the missile has to be further test-fired (another 5 more launches at least) and only then will it be accepted for service induction by 2011. Mind you, it will be inducted into service only once the hardened runnel infrastructure is ready and by Indian standards it can take a long time due to the tortorous and cumbersome process of acquiring land and getting the necessary environmental clearances. Sounds silly and ludicrous, but it's true, nevertheless.
Regarding the follow-on order for 124 Arjun MBTs, yes it will come through but the Army is also likely to stick to its plan for acquiring 900 more T-90M MBTs.

Max said...


Would it be a big problem acquiring land in the hilly areas of Sikkim and Arunachal? They're hardly populated.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Max, it's not just about acquiring the land but also completing the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and addressing the enviromental concerns. Just to give you an example, post-Kargil in early 2000 the MoD authorised funds for the Border Roads Organisation to build six major roadways in Sikkim & Arunachal Pradesh. As of today, nothing has moved and road construction has yet to begin, all due to the yet-to-be-completed EIA! That's how serious the MoD is about strengthening India's northern borders!

max said...

Talk to me about EIA.. I'm in that trade!!

Thanks anyway