27 December 2010

It's the Fuzzy Aircraft Photo Home Game

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Note the Insignia

Note the lack of insignia

A ¾ rear view

A frac34; front view

PLAAF (Chinese) Insignia

Soviet Era Insignia

Current Russian Insignia
So, the late Ted Stevens' "Series of Tubes" is abuzz with what purports to be fuzzy photographs of a Chinese stealth aircraft.

I don't think that these are raw photos, and that some photo-shopping has been done, most notably the oversize tail insignia, which is most assuredly NOT a PLAAF symbol, as Stephen Trimble observes.

Some other oddities, to my (very) untrained eye:
  • The wing has anhedral, and the canard dihedral, which would be a no-no in stealth design, you would want the surfaces more or less parallel.
  • The same goes for the drooping wing tips, which are absent on the front view but present in the rear view.
  • Pictures 1 and 3 of the aircraft appear to be with the power and the hydraulics unpowered, but there is no gravity caused droop in what are supposed to be axisymmetric thrust vectoring nozzles.  (They pretty much have to be with the small tail size).
  • On the top picture, it appears that the observers in the rear are about 1½ feet taller than the ones around the front of the aircraft.
While I think that it is clear that the Chinese are looking at developing some sort of stealthy fighter or attack aircraft, I really don't think that it has gotten to the point where a 70 foot long demonstrator of some sort is flying.

It's possible that the pictures are real, though there appears to be at least a bit of  digital wizardry involved.


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