World's 5th gen fighters - relative strengths and weaknesses


dankris

Junior Member
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Yeah, I reviewed some old posts yesterday and have drawn the conclusion that a J-20B revision might be more substantial than I originally expected. It would follow that we would see some hardware change substantially, and it’s entirely plausible the current J-20s aren’t even going to get an MLU if the changes are extensive enough...
Wait, wouldn't that put the current J-20s at the awkward position just like early F-35s that couldn't accept further upgrade? I will be very surprised if they didn't at least account for retrofitting future advancements/refinements (like guns and engines) to current J-20s. Did PLAAF decided to accept the planes because they need a stopgap to train their pilots and refine the tactics for stealthy jets before getting the "real deal"?
 

ansy1968

Junior Member
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I’m not ruling out MLUs for the current batch of J-20 frames, just saying it would be plausible that they don’t receive one. After all, we never saw this sort of upgrading process with J-10s and J-11s (except maybe now with potential J-11BGs). I think whether the current batch of J-20s do receive some retrofitting in the future largely depends on a number of factors:

1) Just how different will the next J-20 iteration be compared to today’s, and how modular are those changes, given that the next iteration is probably built on further improvements in China’s technological base.

2) Will there be spare production capacity of parts (especially engines) for an MLU

3) Does the budget for upgrading older J-20 frames make sense given that that same money could be used some other way to deliver the same or equal capabilities/force improvements, either through procurement of new frames for potential mid sized fighter, if one is inducted into the PLA), master turnover toward a next generation design, or perhaps something lateral like A2A capable UCAVs, etc.



There probably isn’t going to be a “final” version of the J-20. Rather they will probably continue to introduce new iterations, improvements, and variants over the lifespan of the design, at least so long as they follow a batch production process rather than a scale production process.
Hi latenlazy

it may include the tailless J20, an interim 6G/5.5G stealth fighter.
 

latenlazy

Colonel
Hi latenlazy

it may include the tailless J20, an interim 6G/5.5G stealth fighter.
Extremely doubtful. Small aerodynamic refinements are pretty normal for iterations of a fighter design but total deletion of essential aerodynamic features constitutes an entirely new aerodynamic configuration. The amount of development work that would require, given the potential benefits, would be better spent on a clean sheet design, especially since a clean sheet design wouldn’t have to deal with complications of altering downstream design dependencies that would be endemic to such drastic modification of a mature design. Aerodynamic configurations are highly integrated dependent systems, not highly modularized systems.
 

dankris

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There probably isn’t going to be a “final” version of the J-20. Rather they will probably continue to introduce new iterations, improvements, and variants over the lifespan of the design, at least so long as they follow a batch production process rather than a scale production process.
So it is kind of like the Sukhoi family in Russia where they just keep upgrading it? That does sound workable, but wouldn't it result in quite a bit of capability differences and constitute a headache for sustainment with all the different iterations?
 

Figaro

Senior Member
Registered Member
In retrospect, I think the current J-20As do not have established gun ports given what was mentioned by yankee before about future J-20s intending to have guns which suggest the current ones do not.

I do think those drawn positions are fine locations for where a gun port could be placed but are not ports themselves
So the current J-20s cannot be retrofitted with a gun? That sounds surprising given that even relatively underpowered J-20s are still designed to compete in WVR engagements.
 

s002wjh

Junior Member
i'm sure none of 5th gen was designed for dogfight, but sometime the plane could be force into a dogfight situation. since stealth are hard to detect, there could be situation when 2 stealth plane encounter at close range, and when the short range missile is out of stock, the only thing left is the guns. same reason there are bayonet on a rifle.
 

ougoah

Captain
Registered Member
i'm sure none of 5th gen was designed for dogfight, but sometime the plane could be force into a dogfight situation. since stealth are hard to detect, there could be situation when 2 stealth plane encounter at close range, and when the short range missile is out of stock, the only thing left is the guns. same reason there are bayonet on a rifle.
F-22 and Su-57 are both competent dogfighters probably in many flight envelopes but dogfights generally almost always trend towards lower speed and altitude as time progresses. So supersonic dogfighting isn't really a thing (depends how you define it) but supersonic agility to position yourself is key to winning dogfights if it's guns only. There's plenty of indication that the J-20 is quite a capable dogfighter, perhaps only let down by its size if anything. Watching its turns in the most recent showing where the PLAAF really still held back, is enough to know. Long arm canards, high thrust to weight with WS-15 (assuming net mass around 18 tonnes), extremely high lift generation, and low drag, no known aerodynamic shortfalls = at least a decent dogfighter. Anyway it's all on the pilot when it comes to WVR.

The short range missiles on 5th gens are really a last ditch in case they somehow get into a dogfight. They're also mildly capable of shooting down air to air missiles apparently. At least approaching that level. PL-10 also has pretty long range for a SRAAM. Sneaking up on targets as a stealth fighter is possible. There's a lot of cloud covering visual ID chances so it's not exactly out of place at all for 5th gens to carry at least 2 SRAAMs.
 

banjex

Junior Member
Registered Member
So it is kind of like the Sukhoi family in Russia where they just keep upgrading it? That does sound workable, but wouldn't it result in quite a bit of capability differences and constitute a headache for sustainment with all the different iterations?
There's a degree of unification among the Flanker family. I would think it's somewhat easier to maintain the Flanker family than creating a dedicated platform for each role (air superiority - Su-35, fighter bomber - Su-34, striker - Su-30). That being said, Russia is pursuing an MLU program to further unify the Su-30SM and Su-35.
 

Pmichael

Junior Member
Not a lot of things changed. It's expected that BVR missiles only have a low efficiency against peer to peer conflicts, so once you are in WVR regime you are only a stone throw away from needing something when your WVR missiles are all used.
 

kriss

Junior Member
Registered Member
Even back in vietnam war fighters with guns still achieve vast majority of kill using missile.
 

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