The following is based on translations from reports on Chinese websites:
Chinese website mil.huanqiu.com describes in its report the difficulties in developing a VTOL fighter jet but concludes that for China at present, development of a VTOL fighter jet within a short period time is not a simple task.
Though China has started the project for such a fighter jet, Chinese military industrial workers still have a long way to go to fulfil that arduous task.
Another Chinese media of similar status, xinhuanet.com, describes in its report the following shortcomings of a VTOL fighter jet: 1. larger fuel consumption; 2. smaller load of ammunition; 3. difficulties to produce and operate; 4. relatively high requirements for takeoff and landing environment (sand, soil taken into engine may cause serious problems); and 5. longer duration of maintenance.
However, xinhua says that China still wants such a fighter jet as it has the following advantages, 1. no need for runway; 2. increase in the number of fighter jets an aircraft carrier can carry; 3. ability to make highly difficult moves such as stopping in midair to dodge an attacking missile; 4. and quick response.
Therefore, VTOL fighter jets are useful for China when:
1. China’s runways along its coast or on its islands have been destroyed in a war related to Taiwan or the South China Sea so that fighter jets that require a runway cannot take off to fight, VTOL fighter jets that do not need a runway may take to the sky to enable China to have time to repair the runways; and
2. VTOL fighter jets replace helicopters on China’s amphibious attack warships, China’s amphibious warships may play the role of aircraft carriers.
The report continues that China has mastered the technology and made three Type 071 amphibious attack warships with displacement of 20,000 tons. It is confident it can also make large ones with displacement of 40,000 tons. Such warships are much easier and cheaper to produce and operate than aircraft carriers.
China’s amphibious warships are equal in quality to their US counterparts, but its aircraft carriers are much inferior.
The report concludes that it will take at least a decade for China to catch up in mastering the technology to make aircraft carriers comparable to their US counterparts. It will take even longer and greater effort for China to learn to operate the carriers and train pilots.
Sources: mil.huanqiu.com “Research and development very difficult, does China have the opportunity to learn from Yak-141 in developing its VTOL fighter jet?” and news.xinhuanet.com “In-depth Military Information: China’s VTOL fighter jets will be its core strength in the South China Sea and supplement to its aircraft carrier” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the reports in Chinese)
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