China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 05 Nov 2020, 03:25
by talkitron
This article by Justin Bronk of the UK's RUSI is the best writeup of the current level of combat air power in Russia and China that I have read. He concisely explains the tech levels and military capabilities of existing Chinese and Russian fixed wing combat aircraft far better than anyone else I have read. I recommend reading the entire document.

https://rusi.org/publication/whitehall- ... and-future

Here are some quotes from the conclusion.

China has started to build a clear technical lead over Russia in most aspects of combat aircraft development. Moreover, Russian industry is unlikely to be able to regain areas of competitive advantage once lost, due to deep structural industrial and budgetary disadvantages compared to the Chinese sector.


The effects of this trend can be seen in the fact that even in the case of the archetypal Russian fighter line, the Flanker, the most capable variant currently in service is Chinese. Compared to Russian equivalents, the J-16 features a more modern cockpit layout, more advanced use of structural composites, access to more advanced and longer-ranged missiles, an AESA radar and operational targeting pods for more efficient and flexible employment of modern PGMs. The only area where Russia retains a lead in Flanker development terms is in engines, with the AL-41F series powering the Su-35S still providing superior thrust and reliability compared to the WS-10B series.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 05 Nov 2020, 06:31
by Corsair1963
Plus, that gap is only growing........ :?

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 05 Nov 2020, 17:43
by mixelflick
Honestly, who would be surprised by this?

USAF (air to air) squadrons have been training for years vs. advanced, Chinese Flankers as the main threat. That's what an F-22 pilot told me years ago anyway. I mentioned the Russian equivalents and it didn't even register, like it wasn't even in the calculus.

If anything is a surprise in this report, it's that they're still behind the Russians in jet engine technology. That probably won't last long though. I still think AESA radars, cyber and their AAM's are a much bigger threat. As long as those are flying on Flanker types, we should be OK. The danger though is if/when they start producing stealth iighters in F-35 like numbers, then marry those radars/weapons to them.

Having a stealth platform (in numbers) plus things like the PL-15 and AESA could make for a long day for USAF/USN squadrons. That's why its imperative to get the AIM-260 to F-22's, F-35's and other front line jets ASAP, to restore the overwhelming advantage they currently hold..

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 05 Nov 2020, 21:24
by milosh
Is there any info when we will see AIM-260?

I mean we even saw R-77M not so ago:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EjiG3dkVgAU ... =4096x4096

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2020, 02:39
by talkitron
mixelflick wrote:Honestly, who would be surprised by this?


Even if you aren't surprised, the report is a good discussion of what matters in modern air combat and what aircraft have those features.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2020, 07:58
by hornetfinn
It's pretty clear that China will pretty easily overtake Russia in most military areas simply due to having far larger population and economy (both absolute and PPP). In both areas China is something like 5-10 times bigger and their economy is growing at much faster pace. Currently Russia still has advantages in many areas. For example Russian bomber and attack aircraft are quite significantly superior in both numbers and technology. I bet that might well change during the next decade and China likely will get significantly superior 5th generation force during that time also.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2020, 13:15
by mixelflick
milosh wrote:Is there any info when we will see AIM-260?

I mean we even saw R-77M not so ago:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EjiG3dkVgAU ... =4096x4096


No, and its been said that this is one of the most sensitive programs in all USAF (and probably all of DoD). There was at one time talk of it being operational in 2021, but that's unlikely IMO. Unless all the testing, tweaking and fixes have been done in complete secrecy, its hard to see F-22's, F-15C's or F/A-18E's/F's carrying it so soon.

If we assume it can "out stick" the latest Chinese AAM's, it's going to be a quantum leap in capability. AIM-120D has a reported 180km range, and most reports put the PL-15 at nearly 200km. In late 2016, a new AAM spotted under the wing of a J-16 was speculated to have a 400km range. Certain Russian AAM's also quote absurd ranges, although most consider them less credible. I would expect then AIM-260 will be a 300 to 350km range weapon, but more importantly have a much larger (no escape zone). Probably via some combination of different seekers, active AESA guidance, home on jam and a large warhead.

Let's hope I'm wrong though, and the AIM-260 is rolled out to front line units next year. For commanders in the SCS, I'm sure it can't come fast enough...

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2020, 21:00
by marauder2048
mixelflick wrote:
milosh wrote:Is there any info when we will see AIM-260?

I mean we even saw R-77M not so ago:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EjiG3dkVgAU ... =4096x4096


No, and its been said that this is one of the most sensitive programs in all USAF (and probably all of DoD). There was at one time talk of it being operational in 2021


Since the program reveal they've been guiding to IOC in 2022.

It is a Special Access Program so you aren't likely to see it anytime soon which is helped by the fact
that it's only going to be internal carriage for the AF and a war reserve asset for the Super Bug out at sea.

I'm guessing the testing is going to be done strictly out at sea.

I don't expect this missile to have a large warhead. In fact, I would think Lockheed would trade warhead for
less inert mass and greater agility in conjunction with a multi-mode seeker. It's not really
possible to equip a high loadout A2A missile with a warhead big enough to hit the aircraft if its
pulled off by a towed decoy.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2020, 23:28
by wrightwing
marauder2048 wrote:

It is a Special Access Program so you aren't likely to see it anytime soon which is helped by the fact
that it's only going to be internal carriage for the AF and a war reserve asset for the Super Bug out at sea.

I'm guessing the testing is going to be done strictly out at sea.

I don't expect this missile to have a large warhead. In fact, I would think Lockheed would trade warhead for
less inert mass and greater agility in conjunction with a multi-mode seeker. It's not really
possible to equip a high loadout A2A missile with a warhead big enough to hit the aircraft if its
pulled off by a towed decoy.

Where did you read that the AIM-260 was only for internal carriage in the USAF, and a war reserve asset for F-18s, or was that just a hunch?

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2020, 23:41
by marauder2048
wrightwing wrote:
marauder2048 wrote:

It is a Special Access Program so you aren't likely to see it anytime soon which is helped by the fact
that it's only going to be internal carriage for the AF and a war reserve asset for the Super Bug out at sea.

I'm guessing the testing is going to be done strictly out at sea.

I don't expect this missile to have a large warhead. In fact, I would think Lockheed would trade warhead for
less inert mass and greater agility in conjunction with a multi-mode seeker. It's not really
possible to equip a high loadout A2A missile with a warhead big enough to hit the aircraft if its
pulled off by a towed decoy.

Where did you read that the AIM-260 was only for internal carriage in the USAF, and a war reserve asset for F-18s, or was that just a hunch?


Because the Air Force only mentioned F-22 and F-35.
And there is MILCON expenditure to build new JATM storage facilities because it's a Special Access Program.

SAP doesn't change at sea so these weapons would be in the special weapons spaces on the CVNs.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 07 Nov 2020, 00:56
by wrightwing
marauder2048 wrote:
wrightwing wrote:
marauder2048 wrote:

It is a Special Access Program so you aren't likely to see it anytime soon which is helped by the fact
that it's only going to be internal carriage for the AF and a war reserve asset for the Super Bug out at sea.

I'm guessing the testing is going to be done strictly out at sea.

I don't expect this missile to have a large warhead. In fact, I would think Lockheed would trade warhead for
less inert mass and greater agility in conjunction with a multi-mode seeker. It's not really
possible to equip a high loadout A2A missile with a warhead big enough to hit the aircraft if its
pulled off by a towed decoy.

Where did you read that the AIM-260 was only for internal carriage in the USAF, and a war reserve asset for F-18s, or was that just a hunch?


Because the Air Force only mentioned F-22 and F-35.
And there is MILCON expenditure to build new JATM storage facilities because it's a Special Access Program.

SAP doesn't change at sea so these weapons would be in the special weapons spaces on the CVNs.

Well given that the AIM-120 production line will be shutting down in ~2025, and F-15/16/18s will be in service till 2040 or later, I suspect that's not the case, especially if they plan on having parity/superiority to Su-30/35, J-10/11/16 armed with K-77/PL-15/PL-21.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 07 Nov 2020, 01:39
by marauder2048
Well given that the AIM-120 production line will be shutting down in ~2025, and F-15/16/18s will be in service till 2040 or later, I suspect that's not the case, especially if they plan on having parity/superiority to Su-30/35, J-10/11/16 armed with K-77/PL-15/PL-21.


The AIM-120D-3 (F3R) Raytheon will produce through 2028 will just get reallocated to the
non-Super Bug teen series.

Between NGAD, F-35, F-22 and Super Bug I doubt that it will be desirable or necessary or qualify
JATM on the F-16 or F-15; the latter will mainly be pulling CONUS or CMD duties where JATM isn't needed.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 07 Nov 2020, 04:07
by edpop
milosh wrote:Is there any info when we will see AIM-260?

I mean we even saw R-77M not so ago:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EjiG3dkVgAU ... =4096x4096


2022 according to this article (
https://www.iiss.org/blogs/military-bal ... -air-force
AIM 260 comparison.jpg

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 07 Nov 2020, 14:38
by jessmo112
This strat page article got me thinking (watch out).
https://www.strategypage.com/qnd/russia ... 01105.aspx

If the Chinese decided that they wanted to take back what was stolen in the past, are they advanced enough to succed over Russia?
If the wanted to take Vladivostok by force could the Russians stop them? Is Russian airpower a threat to China?

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 07 Nov 2020, 15:19
by icemaverick
Russia can punch above its weight but it’s still a country will a GDP around that of Italy. China is a rising super power. That being said, Russia has a massive nuclear stockpile. Even if China achieved overwhelming conventional superiority, they would be unlikely to militarily confront Russia.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 07 Nov 2020, 16:59
by milosh
jessmo112 wrote:This strat page article got me thinking (watch out).
https://www.strategypage.com/qnd/russia ... 01105.aspx

If the Chinese decided that they wanted to take back what was stolen in the past, are they advanced enough to succed over Russia?
If the wanted to take Vladivostok by force could the Russians stop them? Is Russian airpower a threat to China?


Very little benefits even if Russia decide it isn't not worth of fight and lot of problems.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 07 Nov 2020, 22:56
by marauder2048
edpop wrote:
milosh wrote:Is there any info when we will see AIM-260?

I mean we even saw R-77M not so ago:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EjiG3dkVgAU ... =4096x4096


2022 according to this article (
https://www.iiss.org/blogs/military-bal ... -air-force


Which just lifted from the AFA article without attribution.

https://www.airforcemag.com/air-force-developing-amraam-replacement-to-counter-china/

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 08 Nov 2020, 03:27
by madrat
You can scratch AIM-260. Budget is a target come January.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 08 Nov 2020, 03:47
by jessmo112
This man seem like a far out fantasy, but thete is history here.

https://eurasiantimes.com/fact-check-ha ... adivostok/

At this point in time, and under XI, anything that Han Chinese lived on could be on Chinas list.
They seem obsessed with digging up past wrongs real or imagined.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 13 Jan 2021, 12:20
by basher54321
Everything you always wanted to know about Chinese air power (but were afraid to ask) – Interview with Andreas Rupprecht

Few have written more on the subject of Chinese air power than Andreas Rupprecht. We grilled him on the hottest topics in that most dynamic of subjects, Chinese warplanes.

https://hushkit.net/2021/01/11/everythi ... rupprecht/

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 16 Jan 2021, 03:57
by element1loop
madrat wrote:You can scratch AIM-260. Budget is a target come January.


What amazes me is AMRAAM-ER has not been adopted if longer burn for greater speed and higher apogee with much higher terminal energy and greatly reduced flight time was the aim of AIM-260.

Oh, with much greater range as well.

Plus has same length as AIM-120, just 3 inches more diameter, and less than twice the weight. That will fit inside an F-35 or F-22A bay. Better gliding body and control fin area in thinner air. I struggle to see how AMRAAM-ER would not be a major step up from the AIM-120D. Terminal speed plus continuous target data is what kills in long-range BVR. And AMRAAM-ER would certainly be a hypersonic glider past apogee, and probably all the way past 200 km to terminal phase as well. Will another A2A missile be faster or more deadly at longer-range?

I suppose for 5th gen verses 5th gen other important factors will need to be included in design, but an AMRAAM-ER can't be adapted to that too?

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 16 Jan 2021, 06:24
by boogieman
I think the goal is as much about the guidance/seeker stack as kinematics. An AESA seeker with complementary/backup IIR ought to do nicely.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 16 Jan 2021, 08:47
by element1loop
boogieman wrote:I think the goal is as much about the guidance/seeker stack as kinematics. An AESA seeker with complementary/backup IIR ought to do nicely.


You'd think so, but I'm doubting it's IR.

First, more range is not better than say an average 1,500 knots higher fly-out speed than AIM-120D, to shorten the time and prevent the target moving too far (thus prevent forcing the missile to loose too much energy leading it, at long-range).

Second, even if bled at long range, a much faster missile has a lot more energy to bleed, and can also fly higher to lose less energy in gradual turns against jinks. Plus a really fast heavier missile can come down almost vertically and much faster than the AIM-120D could, with a lot more energy stored. Especially if it dropped the engine and fuel section just before terminal phase.

Third, to be worth pushing much past the radius of the AIM-120D the replacement missile will need to coast at a hypersonic speed and close to hypersonic at terminal range, with little loss of velocity in the descent.

Fourth, this makes for a very heat-soaked nose cone material (glowing hot) and an IR emissivity/transmissivity window in the nose material may still impair IR sensitivity.

Fifth, the initial target tracking can not be IR, it would have to be a very capable fighter radar.

The plan is to go on 4th gens first after the F-22A. So how many combat-loaded 4th gens can get the altitude and speed to hit past 200 km? Or could lock and guide a missile that far against lower RCS, and against a long-range counter-launch? Few, to none.

So I'm doubting that the range advantage is as important as the speed advantage, for 4th gens. And IR will be even more affected at lower altitude, of a high parasitic-drag 4th-gen launcher.

So I'm thinking this is more about a faster initial radar-guided self-defense for shorter or else same range as AIM-120D's range limits, with a very fast missile at even shorter loft ranges, especially when using an IRST-cued shot, and datalink guidance, for a 4th verses 5th defense.

Obviously I'm missing important considerations here, but overall this seems to be more about kinematic performance and the datalink, than a possible IR sensor for terminal redundancy. I'm wondering if a high sensitivity short-range LIDAR terminal guidance sensor against a transonic J20 with a hypersonic missile would not make more sense than IR? Both are affected by WX, but hard to see how IR can work well with such a fast missile. And I can't see why an AMRAAM-ER couldn't be adapted to this also.

Or has it been?

But then again, if the premise is A2A missiles are expensive, and money is tight, so new missiles will be cut. Then the same logic applies to producing AIM-120Ds in numbers. So I doubt anyone will be cutting A2A missiles with J20s in growing numbers.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 16 Jan 2021, 10:11
by boogieman
You may well be right. I think I remember marauder talking about using the dual pulse SRM to:

boost -> coast & slow for IIR volume search -> acquire -> handover to onboard AESA -> boost again to impact

...or something to that effect.

Re: China is Superior to Russia for Combat Air

Unread postPosted: 16 Jan 2021, 16:06
by wrightwing
element1loop wrote:
boogieman wrote:I think the goal is as much about the guidance/seeker stack as kinematics. An AESA seeker with complementary/backup IIR ought to do nicely.


You'd think so, but I'm doubting it's IR.

First, more range is not better than say an average 1,500 knots higher fly-out speed than AIM-120D, to shorten the time and prevent the target moving too far (thus prevent forcing the missile to loose too much energy leading it, at long-range).

Second, even if bled at long range, a much faster missile has a lot more energy to bleed, and can also fly higher to lose less energy in gradual turns against jinks. Plus a really fast heavier missile can come down almost vertically and much faster than the AIM-120D could, with a lot more energy stored. Especially if it dropped the engine and fuel section just before terminal phase.

Third, to be worth pushing much past the radius of the AIM-120D the replacement missile will need to coast at a hypersonic speed and close to hypersonic at terminal range, with little loss of velocity in the descent.

Fourth, this makes for a very heat-soaked nose cone material (glowing hot) and an IR emissivity/transmissivity window in the nose material may still impair IR sensitivity.

Fifth, the initial target tracking can not be IR, it would have to be a very capable fighter radar.

The plan is to go on 4th gens first after the F-22A. So how many combat-loaded 4th gens can get the altitude and speed to hit past 200 km? Or could lock and guide a missile that far against lower RCS, and against a long-range counter-launch? Few, to none.

So I'm doubting that the range advantage is as important as the speed advantage, for 4th gens. And IR will be even more affected at lower altitude, of a high parasitic-drag 4th-gen launcher.

So I'm thinking this is more about a faster initial radar-guided self-defense for shorter or else same range as AIM-120D's range limits, with a very fast missile at even shorter loft ranges, especially when using an IRST-cued shot, and datalink guidance, for a 4th verses 5th defense.

Obviously I'm missing important considerations here, but overall this seems to be more about kinematic performance and the datalink, than a possible IR sensor for terminal redundancy. I'm wondering if a high sensitivity short-range LIDAR terminal guidance sensor against a transonic J20 with a hypersonic missile would not make more sense than IR? Both are affected by WX, but hard to see how IR can work well with such a fast missile. And I can't see why an AMRAAM-ER couldn't be adapted to this also.

Or has it been?

But then again, if the premise is A2A missiles are expensive, and money is tight, so new missiles will be cut. Then the same logic applies to producing AIM-120Ds in numbers. So I doubt anyone will be cutting A2A missiles with J20s in growing numbers.


For extremely long range shots, the sensor and shooter need not be the same platform. As for speed, the AIM-260 should have plenty of that, while still allowing for a 6 missile load out.