Thursday, September 01, 2011

Best J-20 comment this month

Paul made this observation in an email;
If this is for real, it makes the Tomcat look petite
He's got a good point. Look at the size of the people relative to the aircraft. More importantly; check out that weapons bay.

Unlike other internal weapons bays for internal air-to-air missiles - the J-20s is massive. Give it a look.

Looks deep. That almost seems less a weapons bay than an old school bomb bay with plenty of room for all sorts of toys. How far back does it go behind that huge access door that is down?

Perhaps, because it is a single, vice a folding door like the F-22, it just seems big. But ... the J-20 is a big bird. Are we really looking at what people think we're looking at?

Here is the Chinese J-20, Russian Sukhoi T-50, and the USA F-22. The F-22, no small bird, looks nimble by comparison.

I don't know about you - but the J-20 looks less like a fighter and more like a penetrating attack aircraft; almost an update of the F-111 concept.

Even with allowances for Chinese technology not being as compact as Western technology (which I think is slightly a bogus argument in 2011) - that bird is big for a reason. I don't think air superiority is it.


  1. Old Soldier18:22

    I remember seeing a cartoon of the F-111 in all its versions - the tanker version, the paratrooper transport version, etc. - versions that parodied the "this plane can do it all" philiosophy.  Maybe the same thinking has infected the Chinese.  Did someone slip them MacNamara's notes?

  2. James18:45

    I think they are going more for the F/B with this more missiles and bombs per plane.

  3. DesScorp19:15

    <span>Carrier killer? Deep strike heavy bomber? Regardless, it seems to be built for first strike, first day of the way scenarios. No way that thing is a fighter.</span>

  4. Scott Brim, USAF Partisan20:08

    <span><span>I'm with DesScorp in thinking the J-20 is built for first strike, first day of the war scenarios.  It will carry a variety of payloads, including long range stand-off guided munitions of various types.</span></span>

    <span><span>I also think the J-20 has another primary role, one as important as any individual combat role it might be assigned, and that is to be a learning tool for improving the knowledge base and the industrial skills base for building advanced 5th-generation aircraft, be they fighter aircraft or penetrating strike aircraft.

  5. SouthernAP20:33

    I wonder what its unrefuel combat radius is and I wonder if it could get far enough out in the NorPac from the northern air bases to hit Guam. If not that then to penetrate into the Eastern IO from bases along the Indo-China border region again without tanker support. It so I also wonder if the PRC hasn't been developing some long range PGM's in the same way that Soviets had short squat but long range and powerful air to ground missiles (like the AS-17 or AS-14)

  6. Surfcaster21:10

    What did they say in the fiction books about the F-111? Perfect aircraft to bomb Canada?

    This looks like it is made for Guam. Guam, carriers, surface fleets, attacking AEW.

    Or it could simply be a big long range AAM truck. Lots of potential targets one aerial refueling away from the PLA coast.

  7. kmadams8521:35

    There are two separate doors on the right side of the airplane in the area of the weapons bay.  You can see the upper door opening at about 1:28, and one of the ground crew/engineers with his hands leaning on it at 1:57.  That door looks big enough for a couple AMRAAM-sized weapons.  Look again at 4:42 and you can see a couple of guys with their heads in the upper bay.
    The second door starts to open at 1:32.  That one is monstrous, looks big enough to mount about 4-5 AMRAAM-sized birds.  I can't tell from this angle if the arrangement is symmetrical left/right, but have to assume it is.  That would mean something between 10-12 long range weapons carried internally, without using much of the available volume.  I think there is an awful lot of volume in that bay - look between the 3:45 and 4:00 marks, you can see a whole gaggle of uniformed sightseers who appear to be standing up in the bay.

    The comparison the the Tomcat may be inappropriate.  This looks more like a Whale.

  8. The Usual Suspect22:35

    Size wise it reminds me of the B-47 parked at the south end of Boeing Field.  Definitely not a defensive weapon system platform.

  9. Surfcaster22:40

    How big is the bay, really?

  10. ewok40k23:32

    take out AWACS, aerial refuelling with a couple of those birds and you have shattered standard US air tactics...
    plus, if it can deliver PGM downtown Taipei, it can be used for a whole lotta useful purposes...

  11. James00:01

    So Giant stealthed missile fighter. If they can get links from either a AWACS plane, ground assets, ships or other fighters they can send smaller more nimble fighters to the for and then the J-20s can launch all those birds.....swarm of cheap ass underperforming f35's compromised stealth...........swarm of cheap missiles to take out a good portion of the f35s then the other assets take them on and irradicate them.

    Meanwhile Boeing is throwing its all into the ring. From what i've heard the F-18 out performs F-35s in air-to-air this would make it better in prett much every other way.

  12. CharleyA00:24

    Nope - it's meant to carry long range ASuM's - the ASBM is a fantasy.

  13. steeljawscribe09:35

    w/r, SJS

  14. steeljawscribe09:44

    Think YJ-82/C-802, AS-17 and *maybe* CLUB-A as potential for the big bay.
    Just, you know, saying...
    w/r, SJS

  15. steeljawscribe09:46

    "the ASBM is a fantasy"
    Trust me - it is not a "fantasy"
    w/r, SJS

  16. AW1 Tim10:24

    Does China have an air-ro-air refueling ability?  THAT, to my mind is the first consideration regarding what and/or why this platform was built to do.

    I would agree completely with a first-strike assessment. I would also say that this may also have a dual-purpose bomb bay that can carry either weapons or fuel.  I'd run some rough calculations of bomb bay capacity and see what volume of fuel might be hung in there and add that to any range capabilities just as as precaution.

    It looks to me like they wanted to be able to lift a whole assortment of weapons from their inventory, so as to be able to reach out and touch someone way over the horizon, as it were.

  17. steeljawscribe10:35

    Short answer - yes.
    w/r, SJS

  18. UltimaRatioRegis10:40

    Yep, have heard people posit JUST that, SJS.  J-20 is not intended for an air superiority fight, but to carry CLUB-A or C-802 in the LR ASuW role. Key part of the A2/AD strategy.

  19. Salty Gator11:13

    CharleyA: respectfully disagree with you.  Personally I'd like to see if they end up targeting one of their own carriers underway as a demonstrator, but so far as I can tell from what I see on the High side, NOT a fantasy.

  20. James16:28

    Glad we are going for the best long range strike planes and interceptors. Really glad we have all those new minehunters and ASuW platforms as well as the new frigates.

  21. ewok40k16:30

    One thing has struck me... could it be the Chinese are trying to copy a Phoenix secretly? Or do they have newest Russian heavy/long range AAMs copied?

  22. AW1 Tim16:43

    Interesting. Thanks for that link.

  23. phrank14:54

    Why not have it both ways. Long range strike and if needed Long range interceptor like the Mig 31. I think the size could be do also to the lack of air refuelers. One of the things we count on is being able to refuel if we couldn't then maybe our aircraft would be larger. If we designed larger aircraft maybe we would need less bases overseas. I do not know how we decide how much range we want one of our aircraft to have. I do know that the carrier airwing has lost a great deal of range in the last few decades. 

  24. Horde18:44

    The length of the F-111 design is ~75.5 ft.  Estimates from IMGINT put the overall length of the J-20 somewhere between 72 to 74 ft.  This is a big muther of an aircraft. However, preliminary analysis of the J-20 configuration strongly suggests this machine has been designed to have extreme to extreme plus agility.  Putting this in context, the F-22A Raptor with its 2D TVC and advanced flight control system has Super Agility; agility being defined as the combination of manoeuvrablity and controllability.  The Sukhoi Su-35S (not your Father's Flanker) with its 3-D TVC and the refined, enhanced aerodynamics from its Flanker pedigree, has been designed to have Extreme Agility.  Meanwhile, the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA will likely have Extreme Plus Agility.

    The Chengdu designers appear to be targeting this level of agility, using aerodynamic control, only.  However, the employment of TVC, particularly 3-D, on the J-20 design should not be ruled out.

  25. Horde22:03

    As for the J-20 missions and roles, here are some thoughts: