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Chinese Army Buys American

Sunday, 04 December 2005 12:00 AM

China is quickly adding advanced Western technology to its military, often in violation of trade agreements made with America and her allies.

The latest additions include U.S.-made electronic navigation systems from America, Canadian aircraft engines, British propellers and an advanced heavy-duty truck produced in China with technology from DaimlerChrysler.

The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is working hard to add significant radar surveillance to its warfighting capabilities. In response to this need, the Shaanxi Aircraft Industry Corporation has developed a new type of airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft based on its Y-8 turboprop transport aircraft.

The new Chinese Y-8 is truly an international effort. The Y-8 is a Chinese version of the Russian AN-12 military transport. The aircraft was developed with the assistance of Ukrainian Antonov Design Bureau. The new Y-8 Chinese airborne radar plane includes navigation avionics from U.S. maker Honeywell, four Pratt and Whitney Canada PW150B turboprop engines and British Dodi R-408 6-blade propellers.

The new radar plane, code-named "Balance Beam," is fitted with a linear-shape electronically steered phased-array (ESA) radar. The radar is similar in shape and size to the Swedish Ericsson PS-890 Erieye airborne radar. The radar is to be manufactured by the PLA 38th Institute.

The first Y-8 "Balance Beam" prototype, converted from a Y-8F-200 transport aircraft, flew on November 8, 2001. The second production version began test flights in late 2005.

The "Balance Beam" radar has the capability of being used in "spot" mode, illuminating a single site similar to a searchlight, or wide search mode. The multi-mode radar means the Y-8 can be used for ground mapping and target acquisition.

The Y-8 "Balance Beam" will provide the PLAAF with a platform for tactical airborne early warning and electronic intelligence missions. The "Balance Beam" is designed to coordinate Chinese fighters, bombers and strike aircraft via datalinks in air campaigns against Taiwan, Japan, India or the U.S.

Meanwhile, the PLA has placed an order for western technology on wheels. The PLA has issued new orders to North-Benz for 1,500 heavy-duty trucks.

The heavy-duty trucks are based on German Mercedes-Benz truck designs. North-Benz heavy-Duty Truck Co. Ltd, a joint venture formed by China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) and DaimlerChrysler, is building the truck.

NORINCO is currently on a U.S. ban list for all imports and exports. The ban imposed by the Bush administration was in response to NORINCO sales of advanced missile and chemical warfare technology to Iran.

The PLA was able to try out the trucks on a special basis during the 1990s. A limited number of North-Benz trucks entered military service with the PLA, serving in artillery and missile units as heavy-duty cargo carriers and towing vehicles. The North-Benz trucks are also employed by the PLA for heavyweight workshop shelters and missile weapon systems.

However, the delay in ordering the trucks in quantity by the PLA has worked out in favor of Beijing. The Chinese military will not have to pay DaimlerChrysler for the sale. The co-production agreement between NORINCO and DaimlerChrysler expired in 2003. As a result, DaimlerChrysler stopped the supply of parts and withdrew its advisers from North-Benz.

North-Benz went through a major restructure within NORINCO in late 2003 and merged with Chongqing Tiema to form the new North-Benz Truck Corporation.

China is also in the market to export its newly acquired military technology. The PLAAF is working hard to sell its newly developed Chengdu FC-1/JF-17 jet fighter.

China is seeking to boost the fighter's performance in what is seen as an effort to make the FC-1 more attractive to export customers. The new version of the FC-1 aircraft incorporates design changes including a larger air-inlet to boost its top speed. The center and aft fuselage configuration has also been changed to help flight control characteristics.

Chinese officials say the higher speed was of interest to Pakistan and is considered important to maintain the fighter's export attractiveness. Although the program is still in its early fight testing stage, Beijing has announced that Iran, Egypt and Malaysia are interested in purchasing the FC-1.

The FC-1 draws its design lineage from the Super-7 fighter program, a cooperative development between Chengdu and then Grumman Corp. The agreement was signed in 1988, but fell apart after Beijing's violent reaction to the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989.

However, the FC-1 incorporates many features from the U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon design. The F-16 features appeared during the 1990s after Pakistan transferred a single F-16A fighter to China in exchange for DF-11 missile technology.

Russia has also contributed to the FC-1 project. The FC-1 reportedly incorporated several features of the now defunct MiG-33 lightweight fighter project rejected by the Russian Air Force.

The Russian MiG design bureau dedicated several teams of engineers to the Chinese fighter after the fall of the Soviet Union.

A single modified MiG-29 engine, the Klimov RD-33, dubbed the RD-93, powers the FC-1. The Russian Klimov RD-93 engine powers the aircraft with 11,340 pounds of thrust. Maximum take-off weight is 28,066 pounds.



Charles Smith will be on: The Jerry Hughes Show on Friday, 12/9/05, at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Show information at http://www.cilamerica.com.

The George Putnam Show Friday 12/9/05 at 1 p.m. Pacific time (4 p.m. Eastern time) on KCAA 1050 AM in Southern California; WPYT 560 AM in Pittsburgh; WLTH 1370 AM in Gary, Ind., and Chicago; and CRN Radio Network, WWW.CRNI.NET.


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China is quickly adding advanced Western technology to its military, often in violation of trade agreements made with America and her allies. The latest additions include U.S.-made electronic navigation systems from America, Canadian aircraft engines, British propellers...
Sunday, 04 December 2005 12:00 AM
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