chola wrote:Karan ji, thank you for a well thought out post which details a lot of the items in chini aircraft development that I too had looked at hard and long.
But I had come to a far different conclusion based on what I know of the chini practices known on Wall Street. And Wall Street has a huge amount of past and present experience with Cheen with unmatched intelligence in the ground in country.
Sorry the Wall Street stuff is nothing special, many of us here have dealt with PRC practises in detail & know about it first hand.
The crux of your view is this:
We want to maintain IP rights, maintain an equitable relationship with all our technology suppliers
You assume 1) that Cheen does not have equitable relationships with the OEMs that partner with it. And 2) you assume that Cheen “took risks” by “reverse engineering” the Flanker and its subsystems.
Sorry, both assumptions are exceptionally wrong and they are very clearly wrong in the case of Cheen’s aircraft development. The PRC would still be flying 1960s MiG-21s and 1950s Mi-4s if they had pissed off the French or Russians.
Sorry, but it is you who are completely and totally mistaken and you haven't followed their development enough.
There is still a huge ban on PRC from buying complete weapons systems from Europe and the US.
Multiple organizations in the civilian space have to jump through hoops to export to PRC.
PRC got around this by buying subsystems with dual-use permissions (and often a wink-nod-nudge from the host governments who wanted to follow the US led embargo on PRC but wanted to make dinero as well) and hence got access to many technologies and subsystems.
The PRC also accelerated its ties with Israel, South Africa, Russia - anywhere & everywhere it could buy out complete designs or projects.
Because after their tanks rolled over students at Tianenmen, the PRC was embargoed. Firms that stayed in China (including even many Amreeki ones) were given a privileged position. And why would Cheen take risks with the few aviation firms still available to it? It DIDN’T.
Of course it did take risks. And you don't know this! Look up sometime US aero firms deposition to the US Govt about how PRC illegally shifted technologies from ostensible civilian programs to military ones. And how they were censured in turn for lax oversight.
Heck, I personally attended a seminar where one of the speakers went into eye-opening detail about how PRC's beg-borrow-steal program continued unabated & they literally threw mountains of cash at people to make inspections disappear or make ostensibly mouth-watering civilian deals which transferred crucial production technology, which would end up in military factories.
US companies were part and parcel of this effort.
The PRC has taken risks, give them credit where it is due.
For all the endless variants of the Dauphins and Super Frelons and Flankers, the French and Russians are neck deep in the latest and most critical chini projects today. That alone should be clear evident that there were no breach of contract.
Again, you seem to be doing selective reading.
The Russians are under an international - read western - embargo today.
PRC offers them cold hard cash & barter, for cooperation in weapon systems while ripping off their earlier Flankers. Russia has chosen to look the other way, and counting on its belief that by the time PRC offers its Flanker variants on the WW market, their own Su-35S and Su-57 will still have pole position.
France wants to but cannot sell Rafales to PRC since the weapons embargo remains. Their dual-use subsystems are of course available to PRC researchers & trade continues. But there is a huge difference in being neck deep in the next gen PRC fighter (which France would have done) as versus offering dual-use items or "commercial contracts".
In short, PRC has strategic aims and has muscled its way to where it can be.
Whether it is Russian engines for the J-20, JF-17 or French components for the Z-15 or C919, the proof is overwhelming that the Russians and French were not screwed with by the PRC attempting to reverse engineer their IP. If it did, both the French and the Russians, no weeping willows, would have left Cheen to wallow in its sanctions.
Sorry, but the French and Russians are perfectly willing to look the other way to make more dinero. They are traders not some utopian idealists as you make them out to be.
The French offer us cooperation with MBDA not out of the goodness of their soul but because IAI will take the deal otherwise AND they need the revenue for their next gen designs, every bit helps.
Similarly, if Almaz Antei is working with PRC, its because they know selling tons of S-3XX to PRC will give them good money for developing S-4XX and S-5XX.
Which brings us to your second assumption — reverse engineering of highly sophisticated modern fighters and helos with their thousands of moving parts of different mayerials and tolerances.
I wrote about this ad nauseum. If you can RE a Fkanker then already have the damn ability to make a Flanker equivalent and would never have needed to buy the damn thing in the first place.
You may have written about this ad nauseum but clearly you don't have a clear understanding of what they are doing.
India RE's parts for its MiG-29s, do you know this? They are flying today because of this. Yet India has issues with making a full MiG-29. There goes your claim that if you can "RE a Flanker then you have the damn ability to make a Flanker equivalent and would never have needed to buy it in the first place".
The Flanker is the results of decades of Russian work in aerospace, in aerodynamics, in structures, in defining form, fit and function.
The PRC needs to do none of this, to systematically strip a Flanker & replace whatever systems it cannot obtain a basic TOT from Ukraine or the original Russian deal, and replace it with Chinese analogues developed from the J-10 and other projects. And at a fraction of the effort, get a fighter similar in performance to a proven platform, that flies well and is proven to work!
FYI, its called subsystem - designing for the same function. It need not be the same within. Different alloy, marginally different performance - the PRC doesn't care if the domestic Flanker is 80% of the original, much better in avionics & nearly 100% local in support! Its a better deal.
Ukraine makes a ton of components for the Flanker, many ex-SU companies do. PRC has good ties with most of them and routinely sends delegations to buy jigs and manufacturing equipment lying unused.
Guess what, even India has explored the same but gave up, taking the easy way out of dealing directly with Russia, and does not want to antagonize Russia either & does the easier "legal way".
PRC gives two hoots about all this.
Much ballyhoo on BR about 5 regiments of S-400 from Russia.
Anyone here counted how many S-3XX and S-4XX regiments PRC has purchased?
Each time Russia throws a minor fit, PRC has more orders ready and the promise of more. And anyhow the Russians have the Su-35S/Su-57 programs. They get what the PRC is doing and have a deliberate Nelson's eye, because strength respects strength and its not like what the PRC is doing is something the Russians didn't do, with their extensive history of espionage and reverse engineering concepts or borrowing design elements.
In contrast, India's establishment, does not fund its own programs, has no clear coherent strategy to indigenize, its services keep rejecting local programs & we keep running back to Russia. So Russia, France can all arm-twist us and they do so.
We are not cent per cent dumb. We indigenize subsystems. HAL even publishes the numbers.
That is not however equal to a strategic decision to make all-new build airframes using these local subsystems and with near complete localization and flipping a birdie to the original agreement. PRC does this, we don't.
Those Flanker variants were not RE but were straight ToT agreements where the OEM worked with them to build and integrate all the local components.
Err not really. The Russians only have a limited level of view of what's going in China. Their manufacturers are sought out by China on case to case basis and they jump at the chance because its easy money.
Phazatron was working with China for its radar designs. Do you think they knew there was a J-20 or J-16?
It seems you don't understand technology development.
China needs to give nothing to its Russian partner other than basic specifications about the system in question and get its cooperation. The Russians can guess about what is going on, but thats all.
If China says it needs to build a wave guide assembly able to handle 1.5KW average power in the X-Band, does that mean its only for the Flanker or it can't be used for a domestic program?
That is not to say Cheen do not RE. They do and you can tell when something is reverse engineered on the sly and when something was done above board with the OEM. m
For one, without OEM blueprinted parts the RE stuff do not look exactly like the original while the OEM sanctioned ones do. But more importantly, RE takes a LONG time.
Again, you are completely confused about what RE'ing is.
RE'ing does not mean you have to copy everything down to the last element.
All you need is form, fit and function. It needs to fit in the same area, it needs the right connectors, and it needs to function as well as the original. If you copy the design within to the last mm, very easy nowadays with digital tools & systems, you can actually do old style RE'ing even easier, with all sorts of capabilities if you have a decent metallurgical industry (the PRC does). But even better, if you have an aerospace industry which is busy making stuff for western companies, you can even give them the order for a device that does likewise & fits in the same place!!
This is how India makes subsystems for its MiGs. They are not out of Russian alloy but commercial Indian ones. They are aerospace grade but don't always correspond to Russian GOST. India runs these items through jigs which show they often perform better than the original Russian ones. And yeah, they do what the aircraft requires them to do.
Where this approach is limited is in engines & specific avionics, where the original Russian components cannot be mixed and matched with non Russian ones. An Indian COTS processor running a local firmware is not going to be able to run the Russian programming on it, because we dont have access to the Russian code! An Indian alloy to replace the Russian one will have to go through all sorts of painstaking certification & its easier to just buy the Russian one or swap the darn engine once its used up.
Now do you understand why the PRC is busy replacing the avionics on its own Flankers and is so interested in changing the engine?
Give them credit, and don't underestimate them - the J-10 has allowed them to literally build an aircraft from the ground up, by buying out Israeli tech and also developing their own.
The Sinic Flanker is basically a Chinese plane, with all the rough dimensions of the Russian one, with all the "function" being carefully evaluated and stored in dozens of PRC databases, with Chinese systems replacing whatever they can.
And if Russia whines, offer them more AL-31 F orders for J-10s and Klimov for FC-1 for TSP, this order that order, that JV.
I wrote about this in the Cheen Mil thread:
This might be a real reverse-engineering project. Unlike the Flanker which took less than a decade for an exact version to be made, the Z-20 took close to 30 years to clone from Blackhawks imported during the 1980s and is not an exact copy owing to lack of OEM support.
Time comparison of a TOT with OEM support versus RE without:
initial access — 1998 (Su-27SK license)
first flight of copy — 2004 (J-11B with AL-31)
induction — 2007 (J-11B in PLAAF with WS-10 engine)
You are mixing up apples and oranges here. The basic fact is the PRC has had the J-10 program to leverage tech from. The Z-series does not.
initial access — 1984 (import of S-70C-2 Blackhawk)
first flight of copy — 2013 (Z-20 with P&W PTC6)
induction — 2017? PLA eval unit? at best LSP not mass production
So Karan ji, I suspect I am correct. There are desi assumptions about the PRC that are easy and stereotypical to make. But they very wrong for someone looking at them from the pov of Wall Street analytics. (Heck, I just read a post from TKiran that he knows of no Amreeki firm that profited from Cheen. The PRC is THE most profitable market for a vast number of the US Fortune 500. Profit margin for American products from cars to baby formula are two times or more of that in the US.)
Dude spare me the wall street analytics stuff, please. It sounds pretty bizarrely pompous and detracts from any sort of argument you seek to make.
Forget desi and stereotypical. Your post is full of the usual erroneous assumptions about what technology is, how its developed and what can and cannot be done.
Many WW firms are getting hammered in PRC. Each time I read about how "profitable the PRC market is for x US firm" from you, I have to grin, because quite frankly, you have no idea about the street level reality about what is happening & how agile & also thuggish PRC Govt is, and the amount of desperation in many firms to show "growth" in PRC whatever the price to their own strategy. Some are making money because of the sheer size of the PRC market, many others are getting taken to the cleaners. The smart ones even have ringfenced SOPs in place to deal with their own Chinese teams.
There is nothing special about Wall Street analytics or wutever - I can count a dozen people on this board, on my fingers who are working on so many technology domains, that if they were to spend the time, they can easily point to a zillion ways PRC or India or any country does things in reality far more than what "wall street analytics" can ever tell you.
The PRC is not where it is because it had some super ability to copy modern systems so they could take risks rupturing their relationships with the few partners they had.
The PRC is where it is, because it spent and took risks, period.
They are methodical and invested in their people, in their MIC and the amount of resources they deploy speaks for itself. As inefficient as it may seem to an Indian babu who sneers at spending so much money on "weapons", the PRC recognizes military strength as core to the communist party's legitimacy domestically and internationally and hence prioritizes it.
I have a dozen amusing stories about PRC copying - they are hilarious and frightening at the same time.
PS: We Indians are no better. Indians have often beaten the PRC at their own game. Indian delegations to PRC are often chaperoned for a reason.
No, Occram’s Razor tells us that their advancements were based on the mundane premise of properly negotiated TOT where the OEMs transferred them technology for a fee — not some super human copying ability.
Your premise is flawed. There is no "properly negotiated TOT" as anyone who has seen these issues for a long time would realize. Here is one more example to show how flawed your premise is.
The Russians kept the Su-27SK equivalent running in service by adding a bypass filter to its N-001V radar, and new DSP, which with new software enhanced its range by a huge amount, allowed active BVR missiles to be used, plus added A2G modes.
PRC had to replace its radars in its fighters to even employ basic equivalents. NIIP went on record stating these were Russia only modifications.
In contrast, our Bars radar on the MKI, was widely noted by NIIP to be superior to anything in Russian service till many years later, the Su-30SM was purchased.
So much for Russia gave PRC "proper TOT" and India didn't get it.
The difference is not in some negotiation, but what both countries did with it.
PRC took its 40% made it 60% by working with Ukraine and others, hired Russian contractors & begged borrowed and stole IP for the J-10 and other programs and is now at the point of a 99% PRC Flanker even if it is nowhere near as capable as a Rafale or Su-35S. For the next generation design, they will again do everything for a J-20.
India will get 80% TOT for an advanced Flanker, stick to it, and will only look towards buying the next generation Su-57 design as versus churning out its own Flanker variants and going all-out on its own AMCA.
There is a fundamental difference in strategy and as an Indian I see no shame in acknowledging there is a significant strength to PRC's high risk high reward strategy which is backed by copious investment and solid support from its establishment.
No public whining about how J-10 is inferior to Gripen or F-16.
That is where I have my issues. Getting “technology” to make maintenance better is nothing but subcontracting to make parts (and parts for a particular production run onlee.) And for all the gadgets you listed of us having planned for the MKI, they are all accessories, not variants. We cannot make a Flanker that flies off a carrier. Hell we cannot make one extra MKI beyond some number set by the Russians. That is the real reason why we could not have a Su-30 engine testbed. Why should the IAF give up a plane? HAL could just build an extra specialized craft — if we had negotiated real ToT.
But we didn’t and we don’t.
We don't and we won't because we are not willing to jeopardize an easy ride with Russia supplying us spares for all our Russian systems and we don't have the financial gumption to replace the T-90 with Arjun if Russia plays hardball on that if we RE the Su-30 MKI and start churning them out.
PS, all the systems i listed for the MKI include the very items you were claiming made the PRC Flankers variants. So India putting EW pods and configuring the Flanker is accessorizing, whereas PRC doing that is making a Growler.. funny how that works.
This is what I mean when you are doing selective cherrypicking to win arguments versus actually understanding what PRC is doing and giving credit where it is due.