Chinese Aviation Industry production rates ...


Totoro

Captain
VIP Professional
No way to know the current procurement rates for PLAAF and PLANAF with images being tight lately. So this is just a guesstimate based on previous production rates of various producers and some of the visible or logical requirements, as well as news of some of the older units getting second hand planes. Which suggests some other unit got new planes.

A dozen J-15 per year
Two dozen J-16 per year
Two to three dozen J-10C per year
4-6 J-10S per year
A dozen J-20 per year
8-10 H-6 per year

72 to 88 airframes per year.

Out of those, J-20 is plausible target for production increase in the next few years.
Whether that will influence other types to lower their production rates is unknown, but possible.
I've already lowered the J-10C production rate from the once known high of 40+ airframes per year. Which is pure guesswork, of course. It's just erring on the cautious side. Of course it's possible that (due to still so many old planes left to be replaced) J10C is chugging along at a very high pace, despite the J-20 ramp-up.
 

sinophilia

New Member
Registered Member
I think that at least in terms of quantity, by far the biggest gap between China and the US is in military aircraft.

According to Flight Global 2020 just released last month, the difference is about ~10,000 aircraft.

This difference is huge, and exists everywhere from transports to special mission aircraft to trainers to utility and attack helicopters etc.


1. Wondering if anyone knows if/when China will surpass the US in annual military aircraft production? Obviously China won’t catchup in total numbers for at least 30-40 years, but when will the gap at least start to be cut?

2. Why hasn’t China begun mass producing almost any aircraft type in quantities at least close to US production numbers when they produce a new aircraft?

Part of the reason is due to engines correct? But, there are plenty of aircraft that don’t have those bottlenecks. Lots of military helicopters like the new attack and utility helicopters, 4th gen fighters etc.

So I don’t understand why China lags so badly in its Air Force when it doesn’t nearly as much with its Navy (sans Naval Air Force) or Army.
 

2handedswordsman

Junior Member
Registered Member
Probably it's their doctrine.US armed forces are supposed to be able to attack and maintain a full scale war even with a capable defender anywhere on the planet.PRC doctrine seems that it hasn't the same goals. Given that in Vietnam war, USAF and USN suffered great, i mean GREAT, losses of aircrafts (multiple carriers involved during VIetnam war) , facts say that numbers solely are just numbers.

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sinophilia

New Member
Registered Member
Probably it's their doctrine.US armed forces are supposed to be able to attack and maintain a full scale war even with a capable defender anywhere on the planet.PRC doctrine seems that it hasn't the same goals. Given that in Vietnam war, USAF and USN suffered great, i mean GREAT, losses of aircrafts (multiple carriers involved during VIetnam war) , facts say that numbers solely are just numbers.

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That doesn’t explain why the tonnage is only 2.5x higher for US ships commissioned by 2018 vs Chinese (so the ratio is a little lower now) or the 2.2x higher # of battle force missiles, or the ratio for MBT’s or surface ships of almost any class etc etc etc

Ratio in aircraft is literally over 4 to 1
 

sinophilia

New Member
Registered Member
Consider the qualities differences as well, being the most significant as compared to the differences in other US-Chinese platforms.

The differences are really shocking overall.
 

Totoro

Captain
VIP Professional
I think that at least in terms of quantity, by far the biggest gap between China and the US is in military aircraft.

According to Flight Global 2020 just released last month, the difference is about ~10,000 aircraft.

This difference is huge, and exists everywhere from transports to special mission aircraft to trainers to utility and attack helicopters etc.
Firstly, I would advise not to use Flight Global's numbers as their publication is sometimes years behind the actual situation. While not perfect, I would recommend IISS's Military Balance, for more up to date figures.

Here's what the recent Military Balance publication says on US and Chinese numbers (fixed wing aircraft only, does not include trainers, uavs or passenger airliners and small form light planes):

USA
stealth bombers: 20
non stealth bombers large: 137
non stealth bombers medium: zero

stealth planes: 422
non stealth planes with phased radar array: 901
other non stealth planes of 4th generation: 1782
other non stealth planes of 3rd generation (and earlier): 325
elint: 42
AEW: 111
ASW: 152
non combat EW: 14
ISR various: 67
tanker small: 104
tanker large: 431
transport 3-5 tons: 33
transport 6-9 tons: 218 ospreys
transport 10-39 tons: 345
transport 40+ tons: 274


China
stealth bombers: zero
non stealth bombers large: zero
non stealth bombers medium: 203

stealth planes: 12
non stealth planes with phased radar array: 219
other non stealth planes of 4th generation: 1017
other non stealth planes of 3rd generation (and earlier): 636
elint: 17
AEW: 29
ASW: 8
non combat EW: 14
ISR various: 51
tanker small: 15
tanker large: 3
transport 3-5 tons: 53
transport 5-9 tons: zero ?
transport 10-39 tons: 53
transport 40+ tons: 27

Total US combat planes 3587
Total Chinese combat planes 2087.
US has 72% more combat planes.

US stealth planes: 442
Chinese stealth planes 12
US has some 37 times more stealth planes


US non stealth planes with phased radar array: 901
Chinese non stealth planes with phased radar array: 219
US has some 400% more such planes.

Other US non stealth planes of 4th generation: 1782
Other US non stealth planes of 4th generation: 1017
US has some 75% more such planes

US 3rd generation planes or older 274
Chinese 3rd generation planes or older 636
China has 230% more such planes

ASW planes: US has 19 times more.
AEW: US has 380% more planes.
ELINT: US has 240% more.
non combat EW: both have the same
ISR various: US has 31% more
Tanker small US has 7 times more.
Tanker large US has 143 times more
transport 3-5 tons China has 160% times more
transport 5-9 tons China doesn't have any. US has 218 aircraft.
transport 10-39 tons US has 650% more
transport 30+ tons US has 10 times more

OF course, some of these figures are 1-2 years old. China has more J20s, etc. US has more stealth planes as well. And so on. But in most part, the figures do represent the state of two countries' air force circa end of 2018/start of 2019.

Yes, the gap is quite, quite big. Not just quantitatively but also qualitatively. Even within certain categories the US aircraft are usually superior. ASW planes includes larger, jet planes. When it comes to large transport planes, US planes are bigger on the average. Various EW and ISR platforms are usually bigger and jet engined in the US fleet, while most of Chinese ones are turboprop platforms. Which is good for flight endurance but does make the platform more vulnerable. US bombers are on the average bigger and with more range. US tanker planes are on the average much bigger, holding much more fuel.




1. Wondering if anyone knows if/when China will surpass the US in annual military aircraft production? Obviously China won’t catchup in total numbers for at least 30-40 years, but when will the gap at least start to be cut?
Actually, for quite a few years China was procuring more combat planes than US was. Since early 2000s or so up until 2018 or so. During that time, right after F-16 procurement ended, there was perhaps 70 planes procured per year. F-22 and Superhornets. Later on, F-22 production ended and F-35 production started. Superhornet production went down per year. So it was only recently that US started procuring almost 90 F-35 per year (and some Superhornets on top of that) that we can talk about US overtaking Chinese production.

Chinese procurement during that period was pretty steady actually. 20-30 flankers per year, 30-40 J10s per year, 20-ish JH7s. Later on JH7 procurement ended and H6 bombers were procured, around 10 or so per year. J10s possibly went little over 40 in some years. J20 evidently started getting procured half a dozen or a dozen per year lately.

So i'd say China procured some 75-85 combat planes per year during that period, with the higher number being the approximate current production.

As to when will it Chinese production surpass the US one - i don't think anyone knows. F-35 procurement is going up still, it'll go over 120 for the US per year within just a few years. Some say it will even reach 160 in certain years but those aren't signed contracts so who knows. Superhornet production is still ongoing, even though at small figures. It may very well cease by the time F-35 goes over 120 per year. But F15 procurement for USAF will happen at some small quanitities. But still, perhaps a dozen per year for some years ? And then we're probably looking at a dozen B21 bombers per year from 2025 onward.

So i don't think US procurement will drop under 130 planes per year before 2035 or so. Obviously, that's so far into the future that it's silly even trying to predict that far.

Chinese procurement has been ramping up, though at a more steady pace. Will it ramp up even more, quickly - who knows. Frankly, unless we see a total arms race and a very clear new cold war (so far what's been happening isn't close to that) I don't think China will even try to outspend and/or outproduce the US.

2. Why hasn’t China begun mass producing almost any aircraft type in quantities at least close to US production numbers when they produce a new aircraft?

Part of the reason is due to engines correct? But, there are plenty of aircraft that don’t have those bottlenecks. Lots of military helicopters like the new attack and utility helicopters, 4th gen fighters etc.

So I don’t understand why China lags so badly in its Air Force when it doesn’t nearly as much with its Navy (sans Naval Air Force) or Army.
I doubt engines are the reason. They could always be bought from russia and frankly, WS10 production does seem mature enough so it's not a bottleneck.

I would say the reason is one of the following:
Either the Chinese military said they don't need any more planes procured per year (and they don't need more than 2000-2500 combat planes in the near future)
Or the government said they will not give more money. And the Chinese military said they have other things to spend money on instead of planes, within their budget.

I would say China will be expanding some of their fleets, where they had very few planes previously, quite quickly.
Such as large transport planes, ASW planes, ELINT, AEW, ISR, Tankers etc. That being said, we're talking about adding dozens of planes to where there were a dozen or two to begin with. So that's a big increase for China, but compared to US fleets, it will merely change the US advantage to, say, 3 times instead of 6 times as many planes.
 

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