J-XY - maybe J-35 - next generation carrier-borne fighter


Bltizo

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The FC-31 has been reappearing in military media and fan forums since October.

But this time there has been very few real photos disclosured, most of which are in very low resolution and blurry.

There are full of CG art like these. But I have a question: Is this new 'naval variant' for real?

It's almost three months since its last showing up in late October, nothing new was seen again. No new test flight, no new photos in the runway, nothing with more detail.

When J-20 debuted eleven years ago in 2011, although the max resolution of the camera of most phones at that time were no more than 2-4 meg pixels (iphone 4 was released as a high-end mobilephone six months ago with a 5 meg camera), fans still took lots of high quality photos of J-20, detailed and clear.

How could it happen that in 2021 when most phones were equipped 12-15 meg pixel camera with built-in image stabilization,digital zoom and software digital processor, there were only a few very low quality photos taken for the new FC-31 variant, and only one test flight witnessed in three months, if it's really the choice of PLAN-AF as the next carrier-borne fighter aircraft?

We've had a fair few photos, multiple being irrefutable, and all emerging after years of expectation and rumours and all with the usual suspects saying "this is it".

I don't see why there would be any doubt about its existence.

Pictures at SAC have always been harder to come by and less consistent than CAC (think about getting FC-31V1 and FC-31V2 photos taken at SAC and how infrequent it was, or even Flankers) and with the overall greater security sensitivity, this should be expected too.

For the next few years I think we will be lucky to get a couple of pictures per year of it, taken from the ground.


In other words, the pictures we've been getting of it and the frequency and quality of it, is entirely normal and expected for SAC and for the current strategic environment.


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Kich

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Registered Member
It's just that space and volume can be limited and structure for multiple weapons bay become a bigger loss in smaller planes. You can design some swing arm like j-20 side bay on the main bay or trapeze if its indeed needed. But going in visual combat with a stealth aircraft mean that you failed already...
I can never understand this argument. Just because a VLO (stealth) has to engage in WVR combat doesn't mean the pilot or jet failed. There can be many reasons for this to occur. One example can be heavy EW environment causing jets to visually id aircraft before firing to avoid friendly fire. There are many other situations that cause 5th gen stealth to engage in WVR.

Reminds of when US not including guns on their F-4s only to go back later and mount guns on them. J-35 or J-XY not having a side bar to include IR missiles for potent WVR engagement is a mistake IMO and just because the designers studied this and reached a conclusion the benefits for excluding this feature outweighs the option of including it still doesn't change the possibility they reached a wrong conclusion that will only be evident years down into the future. There's a real possibility that in the long future with everyone operating 5th gen and VLO aircraft that BVR engagements ranges will be reduced to the point where some outcomes will be decided in WVR performances of jets, missiles, and pilot.

I'm very surprised J-20 side bar design wasn't included into the J-35 or J-XY. It's such an ingenious design that it's shame J-35 has gone away from it.
 

Scchwerter_

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I can never understand this argument. Just because a VLO (stealth) has to engage in WVR combat doesn't mean the pilot or jet failed. There can be many reasons for this to occur. One example can be heavy EW environment causing jets to visually id aircraft before firing to avoid friendly fire. There are many other situations that cause 5th gen stealth to engage in WVR.

Reminds of when US not including guns on their F-4s only to go back later and mount guns on them. J-35 or J-XY not having a side bar to include IR missiles for potent WVR engagement is a mistake IMO and just because the designers studied this and reached a conclusion the benefits for excluding this feature outweighs the option of including it still doesn't change the possibility they reached a wrong conclusion that will only be evident years down into the future. There's a real possibility that in the long future with everyone operating 5th gen and VLO aircraft that BVR engagements ranges will be reduced to the point where some outcomes will be decided in WVR performances of jets, missiles, and pilot.

I'm very surprised J-20 side bar design wasn't included into the J-35 or J-XY. It's such an ingenious design that it's shame J-35 has gone away from it.
Yes, and another possibility could be that they are right and a stealth carrier jet designed around carrier defense and knocking out high-value targets (awacs, ew jets, etc) has better use for its internal space, say carrying more fuel for increased time on station, or additional sensors/ ew suites to help with its dedicated role. These may very well be more important than having a pair of side bays.

The side weapon bay doesn't automatically make a jet better, it adds to its capabilities as well as takes away from it, and it's the design team and the military's JOB to figure out what is best.

p.s. one can always carry IR missiles in the main bay, or just use bvraam (which are becoming increasingly capable in close-range engagements) for when the need arises.
 

james smith esq

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Yes, and another possibility could be that they are right and a stealth carrier jet designed around carrier defense and knocking out high-value targets (awacs, ew jets, etc) has better use for its internal space, say carrying more fuel for increased time on station, or additional sensors/ ew suites to help with its dedicated role. These may very well be more important than having a pair of side bays.

The side weapon bay doesn't automatically make a jet better, it adds to its capabilities as well as takes away from it, and it's the design team and the military's JOB to figure out what is best.

p.s. one can always carry IR missiles in the main bay, or just use bvraam (which are becoming increasingly capable in close-range engagements) for when the need arises.
Aren’t stealth aircraft on carriers intended more for strike roles?
 

Scchwerter_

Junior Member
Registered Member
Aren’t stealth aircraft on carriers intended more for strike roles?
Thanks for pointing that out, I kind of forgot about the possible strike role of the J-XY. However I feel like that is somewhat up to debate whether the main mission for all stealth carrier jets are ground-attack and anti-ship, since we have exactly one sample (AKA F-35C) that has entered service to talk about... Considering how hard it is to sqeeze any large anti-surface munitions into the weapon bay of a stealth jet, my personal take is that the J-XY's anti ground/ship capabilities would be relatively limited. btw I mean limited in the sense of the types and size of ammo its able to carry internally, not necessarily how effective it is.
 

james smith esq

Senior Member
Registered Member
Thanks for pointing that out, I kind of forgot about the possible strike role of the J-XY. However I feel like that is somewhat up to debate whether the main mission for all stealth carrier jets are ground-attack and anti-ship, since we have exactly one sample (AKA F-35C) that has entered service to talk about... Considering how hard it is to sqeeze any large anti-surface munitions into the weapon bay of a stealth jet, my personal take is that the J-XY's anti ground/ship capabilities would be relatively limited. btw I mean limited in the sense of the types and size of ammo its able to carry internally, not necessarily how effective it is.
Well, the LRASCM is mounted externally on the F-35. However, as the combat radius ratio of the F-35:F-18 is inverse to that of the J-35:J-15, it may be likely that their roles would be inverted, as well.
 

Scchwerter_

Junior Member
Registered Member
Well, the LRASCM is mounted externally on the F-35. However, as the combat radius ratio of the F-35:F-18 is inverse to that of the J-35:J-15, it may be likely that their roles would be inverted, as well.
yeah the LRASM is carried externally, but imo there is the JSM which can be carried internally. That comes down in large part to F-35's unusually deep weapon bays tho, I'm having a hard time imagineing something that size being internally carried by J-XY. Also, just to be cautious, we don't actually know what the combat radius of the J-XY would be, and when talking about strike missions, we need to take into account that external stores adds a lot of drag as well as weight, but internally carried stores has no additional drag, so I guess we should except strike mission radius of stealth (or just anything that carries its payload internally) jets to be somewhat larger than we anticipate based on 3rd gen fighter stats.
 

Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
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I can never understand this argument. Just because a VLO (stealth) has to engage in WVR combat doesn't mean the pilot or jet failed. There can be many reasons for this to occur. One example can be heavy EW environment causing jets to visually id aircraft before firing to avoid friendly fire. There are many other situations that cause 5th gen stealth to engage in WVR.

Reminds of when US not including guns on their F-4s only to go back later and mount guns on them. J-35 or J-XY not having a side bar to include IR missiles for potent WVR engagement is a mistake IMO and just because the designers studied this and reached a conclusion the benefits for excluding this feature outweighs the option of including it still doesn't change the possibility they reached a wrong conclusion that will only be evident years down into the future. There's a real possibility that in the long future with everyone operating 5th gen and VLO aircraft that BVR engagements ranges will be reduced to the point where some outcomes will be decided in WVR performances of jets, missiles, and pilot.

I'm very surprised J-20 side bar design wasn't included into the J-35 or J-XY. It's such an ingenious design that it's shame J-35 has gone away from it.

Any product, including a fighter aircraft, is a reflection of the competing requirements and factors competing with each other and prioritizing the ones which are most important.

In a medium weight 5th generation fighter like J-XY, the benefits of dedicated side weapons bays for WVR weapons has to be weighed up against other factors.
If they had to work within a set of fuselage dimensions/volume, as well as requirements for weight, and internal fuel capacity and volume for avionics/electronics, then the question is simple -- if they want side WVR bays, then what are they giving up?

For example, if we assume that J-XY's main ventral weapons bay is capable of accommodating 4x PL-15 sized weapons currently, then the main ventral weapons bay will likely have to be the one that is cut down in size to allow for sufficient space for side WVR bays.

Great, but then you have to begin facing some basic consequences, arising from the fact that the side WVR bays will only be capable of carrying WVRAAMs and that you are going to have to give up main ventral bay size. That leads to some obvious consequences.
- For a 5th generation fighter, given the current trends of aerial combat, and given the technologies, supporting force multipliers and supporting friendly air and naval forces that a 5th generation fighter will likely be fighting alongside, how likely are WVRAAMs likely to be utilized compared to BVRAAMs? That is to say, on the list of higher priority weapons that are likely to be utilized in modern aerial combat, where do WVRAAMs sit compared to other A2A weapons that a fighter could carry?
- How much smaller will the main ventral bay be? That is to say, for being able to carry 2x WVRAAMs in your side WVR bays, what payload options are you giving up in the main ventral bay, how does the space/volume work out? For example, if the main ventral bay has to be halved in width to allow your side WVR bays, then is it would only be able to carry 2x PL-15 sized weapons now, would that be a worthy trade off to get the ability to have side WVR bays that are only capable of accommodating 2x WVRAAMs? Remembering that the main ventral bay is capable of carrying PL-15 sized weapons as well as future smaller BVRAAMs (potentially up to 6x slightly reduced dimension BVR weapons), as well as the ability to carry PGMs, SDB type weapons, and also even powered standoff missiles (think JSM and Kh-59MK2) in the ventral bay.
- Is the main ventral bay able to carry WVR missiles in the first place? Modern WVRAAMs have LOAL capability, meaning they are perfectly capable of being launched from a ventral weapons bay, and what would be required would be a new pylon to be developed and integrated into the ventral bay. This is all assuming that the ability to internally launch WVRAAMs is deemed to be such an important capability in the first place.


.... and that is why I am saying, that for a medium sized 5th generation aircraft like J-XY, I believe:
1. It is more sensible to have a larger primary ventral weapons bay that prioritizes BVRAAMs and strike weapons in light of modern trends of air combat and dimensions of said aircraft size.
2. The costs to reducing the size of the primary ventral weapons bay, if one seeks to have dedicated side WVR bays for WVRAAMs, is likely not worth the marginal benefits of having internal carriage of WVRAAMs.
3. If the ability to internally carry WVRAAMs is deemed to be of such high need or priority, contemporary WVR technologies means it is far more reasonable to simply develop new pylons to allow for launch from the ventral weapons bay, which allows preservation of a larger primary ventral weapons bay (and the benefits for BVRAAM and strike weapon capacity and flexibility), while allowing for WVRAAM carriage if the mission demands it.


Which is in turn, a longer way of saying, for J-XY, I absolutely and categorically believe that having a large ventral weapons bay is logical and preferable, and that it would be a poor decision -- and frankly a stupid decision -- to have dedicated WVR side weapons bays in an aircraft of its size and weight category and internal volume.
 

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