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November 11, 2022- Stealth War 110: China Makes Progress in Efforts to Develop Electromagnetic Propulsion Systems; China’s Top Chipmaker Reports Flat Revenue; China Approves Brazilian and Franco-Italian Airliners, but Keeps Boeing out of the Market; Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and Coast Guard to Hold Exercises Simulating Attack on Senkaku Islands; China Showcases New Aviation Advances

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri November, 2022, Age: 1 year


November 11, 2022

Welcome to the Stealth War Newsletter, a collection of the top 5 recent news items, collected on The Jamestown Foundation’s website, To continue to receive this weekly collection, click the button below to subscribe. 

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Stat Du Jour 
This issue’s number to watch58.4Million tons of methane emitted by China in 2021. The next closest emitters, India and the U.S., produced  31.8. and 31.5 million tons, respectively. Last year, the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan and many European countries signed the Global Methane Pledge to drastically reduce methane emissions by 2030, but three of the world’s top five producers, China, India and Russia, abstained. 

This Week: 

* China Makes Progress in its Efforts to Develop Electromagnetic Propulsion Systems

China’s Top Chipmaker Reports Flat Revenue as U.S. Export Controls Bite 

* China Approves Brazilian and Franco-Italian Airliners, but Keeps Boeing out of the Market

Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and Coast Guard to Hold Exercises Simulating Attack on the Senkaku Islands 

China Showcases New Aviation Advances at Zhuhai Airshow 

Top Stories

(source: Global Times)

China Makes Progress in its Efforts to Develop Electromagnetic Propulsion Systems

Beijing has made new headway in its efforts to develop electromagnetic propulsion systems. State media claims that a recent test of an “electromagnetic lever” at the nation’s new purpose built facility “accelerated more than one ton of weight to a speed of 1,030km/h (640 miles per hour), setting a new world record.” Additionally, they report that “five key technologies involved in the test, such as high-thrust high-speed linear motors and 100-megawatt wide-frequency inverter power supply, have also reached world-leading levels.”

Such tests enable advancements in “fighter jet catapults, maglev trains, space launches and other advanced technologies,” including rail guns, which use magnetic force to propel munitions at very high speeds. The PRC tested its first rail gun in 2018, which was mounted on a ship. Of immediate interest to the PRC however, is the application of electromagnetic propulsion technology to develop jet catapults for aircraft carriers. Currently, only the brand new Fujian aircraft carrier is being outfitted with an electromagnetic catapult, making it the only non-US carrier to employ such a system. However, the installation of the Fujian‘s electromagnetic propulsion launch system has yet to be completed, let alone tested. As the U.S. has experienced, the technology is prone to malfunctions and requires more research and development, with the U.S. expecting to achieve reliable use in the 2030s.


China’s Top Chipmaker Reports Flat Revenue as U.S. Export Controls Bite 

This week, China’s top chipmaker, Semiconductor International Manufacturing Corporation (SMIC) reported flat revenue as recently imposed U.S. export controls and declining demand have been a drag on business this past quarter. Although SMIC’s year-on-year revenue rose, the Shanghai-based technology giant failed to meet earnings projections, disappointing investors. SMIC also faces growing domestic competition from China’s second largest chipmaker, Hua Hong, which recently gained approval for an initial public offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in which it expects to raise around $2.5 billion in investment.

SMIC lags behind leading international competitors such as Samsung Electronics and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation in its capacity to manufacture advanced chips, but is nevertheless the only semiconductor manufacturer in Mainland China that can undertake 14-nanometer node in scaled production. In December 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce placed SMIC and numerous other Chinese technology companies on its Entity List, which bans the export of U.S. technology to these businesses without a government license. Specifically, the ban applied to technologies that are uniquely capable of producing advanced semiconductor nodes of ten nanometers or smaller.

(source: Wikipedia)

China Approves Brazilian and Franco-Italian Airliners, but Holds off on Boeing 

On Thursday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a type certificate for Embraer’s E190-E2 twinjet, which will enable the Brazilian manufacturer to sell the plane on the Chinese market. The announcement, which coincides with China’s annual Zhuhai Airshow, is significant as the second approval this week for a Western-produced airliner, at a time when the Chinese air transport sector now has locally made Chinese alternatives available. Earlier this week, CAAC approved the Franco-Italian ATR 42-600 twin turboprop. Despite the aforementioned approvals, Beijing has yet to approve the use of Boeing airframes, which is perhaps due to the poor overall relations between Washington and Beijing.

The E190-E2 is a Brazilian model that can carry between 114 and 146 passengers depending on the design, offering complementary seating potential to China’s indigenous ARJ21 and C919 aircraft. The decision to approve the Embraer reflects China’s deepening relationship with Brazil through the BRICS partnership and other trade agreements. Also, the fact that China is allowing a foreign, western-made airframe to serve its commercial airline interests indicates that Chinese domestic airbus production will not be able to meet current demands for rapid fleet expansion and modernization. According to Embraer Commercial Aviation president and CEO Arjan Meijer, “the E2 will not only provide the best in class economics and emissions reductions for airliners, but also help to accelerate the implementation of China’s essential air service program to connect more secondary and tertiary cities.” Despite its merits, there are still concerns that political tensions with Western countries will impact whether international suppliers can export key systems such as engines and avionics to China.

(source: U.S. Navy)

Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and Coast Guard to Hold Exercises Simulating Attack on the Senkaku Islands 

Earlier this week, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) announced plans to hold drills simulating an invasion of the Senkaku Islands. The exercise, which will be held before the end of the fiscal year, is intended to enhance the services’ ability to cooperate and undertake joint military operations.

The timing of the announcement of the exercises is notable, as it follows a new pattern of unprecedented large-scale intrusions by the Chinese Coast Guard into the Senkaku Islands’ territorial waters since July. Chinese vessels have long probed Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around the Senkaku Islands, but have generally refrained from crossing over into Japan’s territorial waters. In response to Chinese Coast Guard vessels’ recent intrusions into the Senkaku Islands’ territorial waters, Defense Minister Taro Kono stated that “the SDF will act firmly when necessary while joining hands with the Japan Coast Guard” to safeguard Japanese territory from this threat. Kono’s comments reflect the overall increase in China’s maritime activity around the southeastern Senkaku and Ryukyu island chains. For example, from April to August, Japan reported 111 consecutive days of Chinese Coast Guard activity in the contiguous sea adjacent to Japanese territorial waters surrounding Okinawa.

(source: China Military Online)

China Showcases New Aviation Advances at Zhuhai Airshow 

From November 8-13 the 14th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, commonly known as the Zhuhai Airshow, is underway in the Southeastern Chinese city of the same name. In addition to the new planes and helicopters, highlights are to include a mobile lightweight system to launch unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV; aka drone) swarms from sea-based platforms (which is touted as useful for “future” amphibious missions), upgrades to various models of the CASC Rainbow family of UAVs (e.g. longer ranges, improved stealth capabilities, increased altitude, higher speeds), the first flight demonstration of the GJ-20 UAV—the People’s Republic of China’s version of the United States’ Reaper—and what may be other large scale drones.

Such technologies are intended to perform a variety of functions, ranging from “reconnaissance, area denial and control, precision strike, cluster strike and damage assessment.” The CASC systems in particular are being integrated with the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) relatively new Type 075 amphibious assault ships (the third was commissioned at the beginning of October), which are now capable of forming task forces with aircraft carriers, and can support attack helicopters.

Such task forces also enable the use of larger UAVs, which may include drones controlled by or working in tandem with the new J-20B fighter jets, also referred to as “loyal wingmen” (e.g. the Hongdu GJ-11), or older fighter jets repurposed as UAVs (e.g., the J-16). In regard to this latter point, while the phrasing is ambiguous, it may be that the air-to-air refueling tanker based on the Y-20 strategic bomber, known as the YY-20, has also been fully automated. In the meantime, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been flying its UAVs over and around Taiwan, indicating the initiation of “systematic tests” to determine the effectiveness of various UAV models.