China copies obsolete Russian fighter

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik) - Earlier this year reports appeared in the media that China had copied Russia's Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker fighter, and that its J-11 version, now manufactured in China, would be sold to third countries, undermining Russia's positions on the global arms market.

Although China has made some progress in adapting Russian designs and technology, it is still far from posing either a military or commercial threat to Russian aviation.

The Chinese aircraft industry evolved in the late 1950s with Soviet assistance, and soon mastered production of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 Fagot and MiG-17 Fresco fighters, the Ilyushin Il-28 medium-range bomber and other warplanes. Later China got more modern aircraft from the U.S.S.R. - Tu-16, MiG-21, An-12 and others.

By cooperating closely with the Soviet Union, China managed to create a modern air force by the mid-1960s. However, this progress was squandered, and the national aircraft industry began to stagnate, after the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s.

Throughout the 1960s and the 1970s, China failed to develop any new aircraft, instead manufacturing the Q-5 and J-8 - revamped versions of the MiG-19 Farmer and MiG-21 Fishbed fighters.

Meanwhile, both the Soviet Union and the United States were developing fourth-generation fighters by that time. By the mid-1980s, the Chinese Air Force was lagging behind Russia and the United States by some 15-20 years.

Beijing mostly sold its obsolete warplanes to the poorest Third World countries, including Albania, Uganda and Bangladesh. China also exported its aircraft to Pakistan, a potential ally against India.

Chinese leaders eventually resolved to rectify the situation by purchasing up-to-date aircraft production technologies. In 1988, China bought production forms and records for Israel's Lavi multi-role fighter. Sixteen years later, in 2004, China mastered production of the Chengdu J-10 - an essentially Israeli warplane featuring Russian avionics.

Moscow and Beijing mended relations in the late 1980s, leading in 1989 to the signing of several military-technical cooperation agreements that facilitated technology transfers.

Most importantly, Beijing received production forms, records and assembly kits for the Su-27, as well as several Su-30-MKK fighters from Russia. By mastering these advanced warplanes, China obtained superiority over its neighbors and gained an insight into the latest aviation technologies.

Nevertheless, Chinese engineers have so far failed to master production of the Su-27's AL-31F power-plant. Its Chinese copy, the WS-10A, is less fuel-efficient and has a shorter service life. On the other hand, the J-11B, an upgraded J-11 version, has a pilot-friendly cockpit with color LCD screens.

A new Su-27 radar reportedly developed by China has better specifications than the Soviet-made N-001 radar, but is inferior to Russia's more modern Irbis radar.

To sum up, China has managed to copy an aircraft developed in the early 1980s 15 years after the initial Su-27 deliveries, and 10 years after the first Chinese-assembled Su-27 performed its maiden flight.

But the prototype Su-27 and the J-11 are no match for the revamped Su-27SM fighters now being adopted by the Russian Air Force and the new Su-35BM, which has entered its testing stage.

Although the J-11 will carve out its own market niche, this does not mean that Russian-made aircraft will lose their popularity. Nor will China pose a greater military threat to Russia. It is evident that neither Moscow nor Beijing wants an open military conflict. Even if such a hypothetic conflict ever flared up, it would be decided by weapons other than advanced fighters.

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Pavel be proud of your legacy!!!!

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