Chinese Aviation Industry


FriedRiceNSpice

Senior Member
In the last thirty years, China has made major strides in nearly all fields of manufacturing. As the economy expanded, progress was made in nearly all industries, though unevenly at first. As China moved towards market integration with the global economy, a combination of foreign capital as well as domestic investments have provided with the manufacturing and industrial foundations for a modern state. In the first twenty years, most of this progress was seen primarily in labor-intensive and low-value fields such as textile manufaturing. During this stage, wealth accumulation and infastructure investments set up the stage for Chinese industries to move up the value-chain. In the last ten years, China has made strides in more capital-intensive sectors such as auto-manufacturing and shpibuiding that perhaps is even more impressive than the nation's metoeric economic rise as whole. China's move up the value-chain can also be seen in electronics, where it may stand to rival the global giants of Japan and Korea in the next half decade.

In parallel, the nation has also embarked on an amibitious program of military modernization. Although uneven across fields, for the most part I am sure we can agree that China is within half to one full generation behind Western nations in most systems and platform today.

With China's thriving civilian shipbuilding, auto, electronic, and commercial space sectors, I am very confident in China's ability to continue to catch up in fields such as radar, naval, ground-vehicles, and missile technology over the next decade and a half. However, in the field of aviation China may find itself confronted with a more challenging task. Sure the J-10 was a monumental step for China, but the reality is the Chinese aviation industry is not in any better shape than it was 30 years ago. Sure, China has the ability to manufacture some parts now thanks to deals with Boeing and Airbus, but in terms of manufacturing capacity as well as tech level, it is light years behind Europe and the United States.

With China's current economic development first approach, any military field that doesn't see growth in its civilian counterparts will be left behind. While China may field a variety of new naval and ground platforms, develop a capable LACM and better SAMs, and upgrade the avionics and missiles on its current aircraft fleet in the next decade, we might be in for dissapointment when it comes to the J-XX/XXJ projects. China suppposedly began its next-gen fighter project in the late nineties- yet not even a full-scale mockup has been shown. Not only have we yet to see the Super-10, current J-10s are still dependent on Russian engines.


Here are some of the thoughts I have gathered after viewing the Chinese Commercial Aviation thread, the Zhuhai Airshow thread, and some research on the side. What do you guys think?
 

tphuang

Brigadier
VIP Professional
Registered Member
I'd agree with you on this. J-10 no longer has to rely on AL-31FN, but everything else is valid. I wrote about it on my blog
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Basically, the issue is technology and manufacturing. They are weak on both right now. And they are almost incapable of producing large transport or even mass producing medium sized transport. Not exactly good signs for building a modern air force.
 

FriedRiceNSpice

Senior Member
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  • #3
What do you think is China's best option for dealing with this?
Adopt a military-first approach where large-scale investments is made directly into expanding manufacturing capabilities for military aircraft and increasing military-related R&D (for fields such as material science and airframe)?
Pour massive amounts of resources into giving the commercial sector a much needed boost by aiming to attract a larger talent pool of AE, ME, and EE graduates and expanding commercial manufacturing capacity?
Provide indirect aid through subsidies and tax policies on a much smaller scale than direct investment (which seems to be the government's general across-the-board policy for dealing with the current economic situation)?

Also, how much do you think of a spillover naval-application materials science has? There was a thread on materials science that dealt with certain aspects of materials science development in China.

ps- great blog! Very informational- treasure trove of info!!
 
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tphuang

Brigadier
VIP Professional
Registered Member
thanks.

I think everything is helping it. I would say what they are doing right now by pouring a lot of money into it + buying assets, investing in improving management practices, adopting western QA standard (like 6 sigma), buying the best possible machinery for production is the right way to go. Military research is obviously needed, but if you want to be able to consistently mass produce high quality aircraft, civilian production has to improve.
 

Engineer

Major
When people in China cease taking shortcuts whenever a problem is encountered, that would be an improvement.
 

AssassinsMace

Brigadier
It seems the military doesn't take short cuts. They certainly don't take short cuts in regards to the space program. The ones in China that take short cuts are the ones in the commercial sector that are out for a quick buck.
 

FriedRiceNSpice

Senior Member
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  • #7
It seems the military doesn't take short cuts. They certainly don't take short cuts in regards to the space program. The ones in China that take short cuts are the ones in the commercial sector that are out for a quick buck.
Well for their future fighter programs, they can't just buy a Russian engine any time they hit the wall with their own indigenous engin developments. So far they've been succesful with using existing technology to create capable platforms, but to be truly cutting edge they must be completely self reliant.
 
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Engineer

Major
I'm not as confident as you are concerning the aviation industry, seeing China's impressive list of variants of J-8, Y-8, and H-6. J-8 first took off back in 1969, and over the past 40 years, the only major change it has was the switch from frontal intake to side intakes. Y-8 is now a 50 years old design and was first produced in China in 1972. After so much work in reverse engineering the design and spending three decades in building it, you'd think Shaanxi would know the design inside and out. Instead, they went straight to Antonov when modifying the design to Y-8F600. It has been six years and the other redesign of the Y-8 -- the Y-9 has yet to have a prototype in sight (unless they used up their only prototype on the ill-fate YJ-200). H-6 is basically the same situation, a 50 years old design which only recently has its major modification.

ARJ-21 is a kit bash of American's DC-9 body, with Russian Antonov designed wings, and American's GE engines.

It seems whenever they encountered a problem, a shortcut is taken, and by not solving the problem, the problem is solved.
 

AssassinsMace

Brigadier
Pardon, I misunderstood the context of "short cut" in this conversation.

Doesn't virtually every commercial aircraft manufacturer buy their engines from the reputable few that make them? Yeah for China they should completely be independent especially in regards to the military. But everyone in fact takes "short cuts" in this manner. The difference with China though as to say Japan is China knows the need to be independent while an allied country of the West doesn't place that as a priority.
 

Hendrik_2000

Brigadier
I'm not as confident as you are concerning the aviation industry, seeing China's impressive list of variants of J-8, Y-8, and H-6. J-8 first took off back in 1969, and over the past 40 years, the only major change it has was the switch from frontal intake to side intakes. Y-8 is now a 50 years old design and was first produced in China in 1972. After so much work in reverse engineering the design and spending three decades in building it, you'd think Shaanxi would know the design inside and out. Instead, they went straight to Antonov when modifying the design to Y-8F600. It has been six years and the other redesign of the Y-8 -- the Y-9 has yet to have a prototype in sight (unless they used up their only prototype on the ill-fate YJ-200). H-6 is basically the same situation, a 50 years old design which only recently has its major modification.

ARJ-21 is a kit bash of American's DC-9 body, with Russian Antonov designed wings, and American's GE engines.

It seems whenever they encountered a problem, a shortcut is taken, and by not solving the problem, the problem is solved.
I don't know where you got the idea that the wing is design by Antonov My understanding is Antonov did windtunnel peer review with 3 other windtunnel establishment. In engineering is quite common to do peer review Since Aerospace company in China capable of doing review on large plane is limited, they choose overseas partner I don't see anything wrong with that

Your critic is unwarranted because China didn't start in earnest of modernization until early 90's that is only 18 years. And for decade after that the budget for military are minimal because there are other urgent need. Only in the last 8 years is the budget growing at respectable pace

Let face it unless you have highly developed civilian technology you are not going to get sophisticated Military Technology. You should read the book by the designer of Leopard tank in which he said that after the war The German who designed the best tank has completely lost the ability to design tank .So he has to start from scratch but the German highly developed Automotive technology saved the day.

The same with China they have to start from scratch and if you watch the designer of JF17 and Space program They are all people in 30's and early 40's Give them some time they will matured

Now that they finally go through the process of designing J10 and JF17 I have no doubt that you will see original design in the future
 

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