“The J-35 is likely to represent another important milestone in Country X’s long-term pursuit of blue-water carrier-based naval aviation capabilities,” said Capt. James Fanell, a retired U.S. Navy intelligence officer.

Ruben Johnson

July 1, 2021

X Country J-35 carrier-based fighter jets appear: Towards the “most powerful navy”?

X country J-31 stealth fighter

Kyiv: Nation X’s navy has taken another step towards eliminating the last advantage enjoyed by the US Navy, the new stealth carrier-based fighter J-35.

What caught the attention of U.S. defense policymakers was the presence of the J-35 at the aircraft carrier building in Wuhan, Hubei province, where research was conducted for Nation X’s naval aviation operations. The photo is the latest image taken of the Wuhan facility by aviation enthusiasts in country X over the years, and then posted anonymously on various websites in country X. The photos were removed multiple times because they violated its secret and general military security guidelines.

“The J-35 is likely to represent another important milestone in Country X’s long-term pursuit of blue-water carrier-based naval aviation capabilities,” said Capt. James Fanell, a retired U.S. Navy intelligence officer. Reflecting on his long career as the most senior retired analyst in charge of naval assessments, he said: “As Nation X’s navy continues to transform into the most powerful navy, we are seeing the (now retired) goal of Admiral X’s victory moving forward. accomplish.”

The Shenyang Aircraft Company’s aircraft has existed as an actual flight platform since 2011, and has since undergone three major design iterations and several designations (F-60/J-31/FC-31) before reappearing as the J-35 aircraft. Configured wings and slender fuselage optimized for low radar cross section (RCS).

The J-35 made its public debut as the J-31 at the 2014 China X Airshow. This model is equipped with two underpowered Russian-made engines originally developed for the Mikoyan MiG-29. But even this earlier configuration appears to have been a twin-engine adaptation of the American Lockheed Martin F-35 design.

Another step in the long march

The emergence of the J-35 is not only an important step for the X country’s industry to march towards a modern aircraft carrier force, but also a two-generation leap for the X country’s navy to initially choose a fighter with carrier capability, another SAC-built aircraft, the J-15.

The J-15 is not a homegrown development of Country X, but a reverse engineered copy of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-33 carrier fighter. It also draws on an early pre-production Su-27K prototype obtained by SAC from the Naval Aviation Research Center in then-Ukrainian-controlled Crimea, which was used to develop many of the details of the Country X variant.

A 1980s design made almost entirely from traditional metal alloys, the J-15 also suffered from the heaviest carrier-based fighter in the world. (The weight factor was one of the reasons the Russians declared their Su-33 design obsolete in 2015.) With an unassisted, non-catapult takeoff, full fuel load, its 12-ton armament is limited to a two-ton capacity—two CASIC YJ-83K ASM and two older generation PL-8 IR guided AAMs.

An unnamed PLA military source said the J-15 is so overweight, “even the new-generation C13-2 steam catapult engine installed on the US Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carrier would have difficulty launching this aircraft. efficient.”

This prompted SAC to devote significant resources to the 22,000-pound J-35. It is lighter and carries missiles in the internal weapons bay to maintain the stealth characteristics of the aircraft.

More and stronger combat power

The other half of the equation is the general trend that Country X’s navy is gradually becoming a larger force than the US Navy. As one NATO national intelligence official and PLA expert explained, the reality is that U.S. naval aviation remains a “great equalizer”, easing the widening disparity in numbers. (The greater tonnage and lethality of the U.S. fleet is also an important factor.)

“The U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier — and its nuclear submarines — is what gives the U.S. Navy this technological edge and long-range strike capability. Over the years, this has made up for the growing digital mismatch between the two navies,” he continued.

Quantitatively, Country X’s navy currently has 400 warships and submarines. According to a recent assessment by the U.S. Naval War College, Country X’s navy will increase to a total strength of more than 530 ships. The pace of country X’s shipbuilding industry is relentless. Between 2015 and 2017 alone, Country X produced nearly 400,000 tons of naval ships, roughly double the output of U.S. shipyards over the same period.

Today’s U.S. Navy is sometimes described as shrinking and overextended compared to the rapidly modernizing State X navy; as of March, it operated 296 warships and submarines.

But when Nation X’s navy’s first aircraft carrier, the CV-16 Liaoning, entered service in 2012 and declared operational readiness four years later, the anxiety of U.S. defense policymakers went up several notches.

The Liaoning Type 001A is the sister ship to Admiral Kuznetsov of the Russian Navy (VMF) and is more than a generation behind any U.S. carrier. It relies on ski slope flight decks instead of the catapults installed on all US-designed aircraft carriers.

The second Type 002 carrier, the CV-17 Shandong, is a near-clone of the Liaoning. It entered service at the end of 2019 and is undergoing its final sea trials. Western analysts say both carriers are actually training platforms and will be replaced by a next-generation carrier using catapults, named Type 003.

The Model 003 will have a traditional “flat-roof” design. It displaces 80,000 tons and is 15,000 tons heavier than the CV-16 and CV-17 models. It is designed to be equipped with the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) – the next-generation catapult that the US Navy only now has for garrisoning.

Country X’s catapult reportedly does not have a nuclear reactor to power it and is supported by Integrated Propulsion System (IPS) technology. This is designed to significantly improve the fuel efficiency of conventional power plants on ships.

The question mark is the proficiency of the designers of country X with EMALS technology. It’s an innovation that the U.S. Navy has invested billions of dollars in and is based on decades of experience launching and recovering aircraft from decks. At the end of 2017, Major General Yin Zhuo, a senior researcher at the People’s Liberation Army Naval Equipment Research Center of Country X, said in an interview with CCTV that Country X had used EMALS on J-15 fighter jets for “hundreds of times” in the past few years.[陆基]test”.

A U.S. Naval Air Systems contractor who spoke to Breaking Defense said land testing and actual use at sea are still “two different realities. The U.S. Navy’s massive [海军航空] Expertise informs the design parameters and operating concept of the EMALS catapult. Country X is now trying to get first into the EMALS generation without any operational experience, nor the generation of steam powered catapults. This could prove to be a major technical challenge. “

With these two Chinese military innovations seemingly imminent, there have been calls for a reassessment of the relationship between the U.S. military and the military of Country X.

“The reason we’ve been ‘surprised’ by developments like the J-35 and these new carriers is the total lack of transparency on the X side — even though the U.S. has long emphasized that military engagement with Beijing should create something like that,” Fanell said. “It’s been a near one-way street, as the insight we’ve provided for planning has yielded little return. It’s time to re-evaluate this irresponsible arrangement.”

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