China's transport, tanker & heavy lift aircraft


Bltizo

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I think everyone's talking past each other a little bit.

I think what Foxmulder is saying is that if the PLA really wanted to, they could develop an entirely domestic military specific C919 for the sake of military only use, whereby all of the foreign subsystems are replaced with domestic equivalents.
The engine of C919 until now was arguably the most significant "bottleneck" to this, however if/when WS-20 emerges as viable and enters production, this bottleneck could be removed.
I think it is reasonable to argue that Y-20's development and other work on larger sized aircraft (H-6K, Y-9 etc) would have provided a sufficient base of experience such that key subsystems such as cockpit, flight control system, navigation and avionics etc, could all be developed for a "military specific" C919 airframe.


I think "military specific" C919 would really be the key word here -- because it would be accepting that a "military" C919 base airframe would be basically an entirely different aircraft from the current C919 as we know it and in many domains it would likely be less capable (e.g.: WS-20 for one is of significantly older technology than LEAP).
A "military specific" C919 would not be intended for civilian airline use, but only exclusively for military tasks, and it goes without saying that a military specific C919 variant would be less economical to operate than the current civilian C919.
Such an aircraft, essentially taking the C919 airframe, changing its engines to WS-20, ripping out its internals and substituting newly developed indigenous equivalents -- is within the scope of the Chinese aerospace industry if they wanted to pursue it.
4-5 years to develop such an aircraft -- if they really wanted to throw money, urgency and aerospace resources at it -- IMO is not impossible, but it would be a tight schedule.


..... but the big question is whether the PLA would see that as useful.

One of the reasons why there are military aircraft like E-7, P-8, which are derived from 737s, is because the 737 family are mature, in widespread use, proven and with substantial commonality and established supply and support networks by virtue of having common subsystems between the military and domestic aircraft.

However, a "military specific" C919 will not enjoy that benefit between itself and a standard civilian C919, and it will require time and money and aerospace industry resources that might be better spent elsewhere.

After all, it might be better just to wait for a "domestic civilian C919" (using CJ-1000A engines among other systems) to be developed, and then to take that as the basis for whatever military variants (AEW&C, MPA, EW etc), to achieve that kind of military-civilian commonality, which a "military specific" C919 will not be able to achieve.


-- personally I don't see the rush.
I think the Y-9 platform can serve for the AEW&C, EW, ELINT/SIGINT roles adequately that any "military specific C919" would be intended to do. There is no pressing, short term need for a "military specific C919" that I can see. It would be nice to have, but far from essential.
Better to spend those aerospace resources on developing a "domestic civilian C919" variant instead, or on other projects.
 
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Tirdent

Junior Member
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I think it is reasonable to argue that Y-20's development and other work on larger sized aircraft (H-6K, Y-9 etc) would have provided a sufficient base of experience such that key subsystems such as cockpit, flight control system, navigation and avionics etc, could all be developed for a "military specific" C919 airframe.

That is no doubt true, but given the breadth and depth of international participation in the C919, it's simply a big task in terms of scale (if not so much skill). Furthermore, if it took much more than 5 years, the availability of the WS-20 could become a moot point, as by then the CJ-1000A may well be just around the corner.

I think that's what crash8pilot wanted to express - while it's hard to overstate the significance of this milestone for the Y-20, the relevance to the C919 is much more limited than foxmulder is suggesting.
 

Bltizo

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That is no doubt true, but given the breadth and depth of international participation in the C919, it's simply a big task in terms of scale (if not so much skill). Furthermore, if it took much more than 5 years, the availability of the WS-20 could become a moot point, as by then the CJ-1000A may well be just around the corner.

I think that's what crash8pilot wanted to express - while it's hard to overstate the significance of this milestone for the Y-20, the relevance to the C919 is much more limited than foxmulder is suggesting.

I understand where you are coming from -- however I think there's nothing incorrect about foxmulder saying that if China for some reason wanted a "military specific C919" aircraft (as described in my last post), that the engine out of all of the various foreign subsystems on the aircraft, would have easily been the biggest impediment to it... and that the emergence of WS-20 is massively consequential to a hypothetical "military specific C919" if they wanted to pursue it in the near term.

IMO I don't think there's anything technically incorrect in such a position and is largely unassailable.

The only reason in which that position could be "critiqued" is from the perspective of whether it makes sense for the PLA to desire a "military specific C919" aircraft in the next 4-5 years... which is an entirely different topic.
edit: the other major avenue of critique would be questioning how long such a project might take... i.e.: as you suggested if it takes more than 4-5 years.
 

SpicySichuan

Senior Member
Registered Member
Calm down ... with the WS-20 the C919 will surely be able to fly but it takes times, money and even more with the WS-20 it won't reach its performance parameters since it is an older generation engine. As such, to be competitive, they need to wait for the CJ1000A
To be frank, as much as WS-20 marks a remarkable progress in China's aviation industry, the engine is still on part to the Boeing-737 engines of the 1980s and 1990s. It is at least a generation or more behind the LEAP. Nonetheless, it still marks a significant progress by Beijing, and I will not rule the possibilities of militarized C919 platforms using the WS-20. Yet, civilian airliners require much higher standards.
 

gelgoog

Captain
Registered Member
...
There are tankers in the same size-bracket as the C919 (MTOW around 80t), but these are invariably derived from tactical transports rather than airliners (KC-130J, KC-390). Their market is small air forces which cannot afford a separate fleet of dedicated, heavy tankers or countries with a requirement to refuel helicopters - neither applies to China.

I agree that it makes little sense to use the C919 as a tanker. The C929 would make much more sense for that.
Given the timescales involved the C929 will not be available any time soon. Perhaps even only in two decades.
So it is plain to see the Y-20 is the aircraft which makes most sense for this application.

The C919 could still be used for radar, electronics warfare, and sea patrol however. Similar to E-7 or P-8.
In those circumstances the WS-20 engine would be good enough performance wise. E-7 and P-8 use CFM56 engines.
The question is the reliability of the WS-20 at least in its initial versions.
 

TerraN_EmpirE

Tyrant King
Seriously? One is produced like 5 from old airframes as "just in case" option, the other is a brainstorming exercise. H-6 example would be slightly better for your point I guess... :D lol.
7 built and used. 2 in Canada 5 German. They are useful as not every mission or nation needs a large tanker. They cost a lot of money, time and man hours. Even a small tanker for a nation that badly needs them can be significantly useful. H6 conversation like other bombers conversations tend to be a stop gap. Mostly built until better options become available.
My main point here is that the Comac line all of it ARJ21, 919 and CR929 have potential for military use both domestic and export. This can be seen when compared to peer classed aircraft globally.
 

Godzilla

New Member
Registered Member
Great to see the WS-20 on the Y-20. I think for the likes of CR919 & 929 though the options should remain for the customers to chose the engine, i.e. maintain GE & whatever else in the market as engine options along with the WS-20. That way it keeps the carrot in play for western corporations to continue to work with Chinese companies to work out the kinks in these aircrafts in the Chinese market first. I mean, end of the day, these are essentially first and second gen wide body commercial airliners for China, and there is no shortcut to catch up. It'll keep the ecosystem open and competition alive much like what Tesla is doing to the electric car system. As long as we have demonstrated that we can achieve technological advances in these fields, there won't be no shortage of corporate suitors lobbying the western governments to lift the sanctions/restrictions for the pieces that China has already developed so they can gain a bigger piece of the commercial pie. As big as China is, it is still in its best interest to be able to cooperate with the rest of the western world on technologies. Its not a zero sum game between having the technology to build everything by oneself, or pick and chose components from others for the best commercial gains for oneself and their customer.
 

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