Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Shaanxi Y30 and Y9 Military Transport Aircraft in China

The Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation displayed the turboprop Y-30, a new medium transport aircraft, in model form at the 2014 Zhuhai Airshow. The Y-30 would succeed the current Shaanxi Y-9, which in turn succeeded the Y-8 in Chinese service.

Back in the late nineties when China first announced a replacement for the Y-8, the planned aircraft was known as the Y-8X. Over time this new aircraft gradually evolved into what is now known as the Y-9 from Shaanxi.

While the Y-9 is a significant improvement over the original Y-8, it's much less ambitious with less performance than what the Y-8X was supposed to be. The Y-9 is more like a radically improved Y-8 than a clean sheet design from the ground up.

With the new Y-30 design, Shaanxi comes closer to what the Y-8X was originally supposed to be and more. For instance, dimensions of the cargo hold will be more optimized and payload will be increased to above 30 tons. Shaanxi would go from a Y-9, which is comparable to the Lockheed Martin C-130J-30, to something that is somewhat below the Airbus A-400M.

This would make the Y-30 compatible with newer generation wheeled vehicles, which are becoming bigger and heavier. For instance, the Type 09 vehicles, which are set to become the backbone of China's land forces, would be able to utilize the Y-30 and not have to rely on the heavier Xian Y-20. The basic version of these come in at least 20 tons and more depending on the version.

The Xian Aircraft Corporation, which is now developing the Y-20, has also offered an alternative to the Y-30 from Shaanxi in the Y-19. The main difference is that the Y-19 will be powered by two turbofans and not turboprops as in the Y-9 and Y-30.

As for the Y-9 which has now entered service in China, it was displayed with a range of vehicles that are compatible with the Y-9 platform. Included were:
  • The Type 03 or ZBD03 (ZLC-2000), a light-weight, tracked infantry fighting vehicle which can be airdropped. The 8 ton ZBD03 is amphibious and is fitted with a one man turret armed with a 30 mm gun and anti-tank missiles. Somewhat comparable to the Russian BMD-3.
  • Norinco AH-4, a light-weight, 155 mm, 39 caliber towed  howitzer weighing 3 to 4 tons. Somewhat comparable to the American M777.
  • Norinco CS/SH-1, a self-propelled 122 mm howitzer mounted on a 4x4 vehicle.
  • Various other light vehicles such as the 4x4 CS/VN-3.
Also worth mentioning is that the Y-9s in Chinese service come with a Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) which should help during bad weather. Most other aircraft around the world only include it as an option on selected aircraft only.

Credit original poster, via Chinese Internet

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Egypt Is The First Buyer of French Rafale and the Second of FREMM Frigate

Egypt has agreed to buy 24 Rafale fighter aircraft from France, ending the French quest to find the first export customer for the Rafale which had its first flight all the way back in 1986.

Prior to this, France had lost in several countries against fighter aircraft from other countries, such as the F-16, Typhoon and the Gripen. This includes countries such as Morocco and Brazil where it had initially been considered the favorite to win, but in the end lost out to someone else.

Ironically, Egypt also happens to be the first export destination of the Mirage 2000, the predecessor of the Rafale. There are still about 18 Mirage 2000 in service with the Egyptian Air Force.

In the near future, France is looking at additional customers for the Rafale in Qatar and India, both of which have operated the Mirage 2000. Other countries where the Rafale is hoping to secure a contract in the more distant future is Malaysia.

Egypt also becomes the second customer of the French-Italian FREMM frigate after Morocco, which, like Egypt, ordered a single ship in 2008. This ship was delivered to Morocco in 2014 and is more similar to the French version of the FREMM than the Italian version.

Besides Morocco, France has two FREMM frigates and Italy has another four frigates. In all, Egypt has spent over 5 billion euros on new acquisitions. France is expected to provide loans to Egypt to help cover the purchases.


Monday, January 5, 2015

China's Gongji GJ-1 / Wing Loong UAV In Service and Equipped With Satellite Guided Glide Bomb

At the 2014 Zhuhai Airshow, the Wing Loong or Pterodactyl Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) from AVIC was again displayed. However, unlike in Zhuhai Airshow 2012, this time the display model carried the official emblems and insignia of the Chinese Air Force.

This confirms that the Wing Loong UAV has now entered service in China as the unit was pulled from service with number 76024. At the airshow, the UAV was also referred to as GJ-1 (Gongji) in contrast to the past where it was known only as the Wing Loong or Pterodactyl.

The Wing Loong / Pterodactyl / GJ-1 Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV is designed for persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) thanks to its extended range and endurance. It can carry out a wide range of missions, including battle damage assessment.

Depending on mission, the GJ-1 can be equipped with various electro-optical and other surveillance equipment, including the LE-350, YY-1 and YY-12 pod. The GJ-1 can also be used for precision attack in real-time as it can carry a wide range of precision guided munitions.