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F-117 Nighthawk

Downed F-117 may have been used by China for J-20  (Source: AP)
J-20 may use tech from F-117 downed in 1999

The Chinese have been showing off their military prowess lately.  The communist nation has trotted out its first stealth aircraft dubbed the J-20. To many observers, the aircraft looks similar to the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor, but the J-20 is a larger aircraft that appears to be more appropriate for a mixed role fighter and ground attack mission than a pure air superiority fighter like the Raptor.

Many have speculated on how far along the Chinese are in getting the aircraft into its Air Force fleet. Some predictions have put the aircraft as far out as nine years from entering into service. However, some in the U.S. government have already conceded that China is further ahead than they originally thought. The J-20 has already had its maiden flight.

However, the stealth technology China uses in the J-20 is the subject of debate and some think that the technology China is using may have come from American aircraft. Specifically, many think that the some of the technology that China is using in the J-20 came from an Air Force F-117 that was shot down and crashed in Serbia in 1999. The aircraft was the first of the stealth fighters to have even been hit by enemy fire.

The aircraft was hit on March 27, 1999 and the Pentagon chocked the downing of the aircraft up to sheer luck and clever tactics. The pilot of the aircraft ejected safely and was rescued. The aircraft crashed over a wide area of farmland in the area and apparently, parts from the fighter were collected by local farmers as souvenirs. 

The AP quotes Adm. Davor Domazet-Loso, the Croatian military chief of staff during the operations in Kosovo, "At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents crisscrossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the plane from local farmers."

A Serb military official did confirm that some of the parts of the downed F-117 did end up in the hands of foreign military attaches. Of particular interest to the foreign military forces according to repots was the coating the F-117 used to absorb radiation to prevent the aircraft from bouncing back radar signals.

Parts of the F117 are in a Serbian aviation museum today. The deputy director of the museum, Zoran Milicevic said, "I don't know what happened to the rest of the plane. A lot of delegations visited us in the past, including the Chinese, Russians and Americans ... but no one showed any interest in taking any part of the jet."

The Chinese were known to keep an intelligence post in the embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo war. Alexander Neill, head of Asia security program at the Royal United Services institute in London, said, "What that means is that the Serbs and Chinese would have been sharing their intelligence. It's very likely that they shared the technology they recovered from the F-117, and it's very plausible that elements of the F-117 got to China."

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By Yaos on 1/25/2011 11:01:26 AM , Rating: 4
The US is letting the F-35 be sold to foreign countries, it is more stealthy than the F-117. Any of those countries could backwards engineer a plane and sell the information to another country.

RE: So?
By Flunk on 1/25/2011 11:21:50 AM , Rating: 4
Friendly foreign countries, not China and Russia. You sound paranoid.

RE: So?
By ChugokuOtaku on 1/25/11, Rating: 0
RE: So?
By dgingeri on 1/25/11, Rating: 0
RE: So?
By NAVAIR on 1/25/2011 1:48:39 PM , Rating: 3
I will attest to the fact of an Iran still flew the Tomcat (at least until 2006,) one flew over my head in 2006 in the Persian Gulf. They regularly buzz the ships with their P-3 Orion's. It sent willies’ through the change of command because of the presumption that the Tom's were no longer flyable (because of the lack of consumable/repairable parts for the aircraft.) If they can enrich uranium, they can repair a 1970 vintage fighter. Even if a country possesses a 5th generation fighter; do they employ the tactics to facilitate the advantage of the platform and do they have the structure (command @ control, training, support aircraft, etc.) this little widget fits into in place to achieve the advantage the fighter will give them. When you reply to these posts in Dailytech, beware that this is a broadly viewed forum and don't make yourself look stupid with factually baseless claims. I think, I feel, and in my opinion are ok. groundless statements are laughable at best. my 2 cents...

RE: So?
By NAVAIR on 1/25/2011 2:11:59 PM , Rating: 3
In my humble opinion, based on professional aeronautical experience, the F-117 was determined to be irrelevant based upon improvements in technology in fire control and airborne early warning RADAR. Analogist with "Moore's Law," so too are the improvements in the electronic detection systems. This rendered the 80's era attack aircraft to a lesser and lesser degree of stealth advantage as technology improved over time. The weight to ordnance performance of the aircraft was like using a city bus to deliver 2 hand grenades; the F-117 was used in combat to deliver (2) 2000 pound bombs. Contrast this with what other platforms deliver; vice the cost and performance of the platform. The gravest loss technology I can remember was the downing of the EP-3 (spook aircraft) by the Chinese over 10 years ago and that one was not a pile of ashes…

RE: So?
By eggman on 1/25/2011 3:44:04 PM , Rating: 2
All true, but it was the coolest ugly plane to experience and it was able to place those 2000 lb. bombs with unbelievable precision. Although is was several years after my experience with the F-117 I still felt sadness when they were retired.

RE: So?
By peebee on 1/25/2011 9:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
A technology considered outdated by us could still prove valuable enough to the Chinese to advance their technology closer to ours.

And theft will always be black and white. You don't "kind of" steal something.

RE: So?
By peebee on 1/25/2011 9:45:30 PM , Rating: 2
A, I meant to add that I completely agree about the EP-3... By far the largest breach of intellectual property to date.

RE: So?
By Calin on 1/26/2011 3:34:26 AM , Rating: 2
The F-117's place was taken by cruise missiles - the day when you needed a plane to deliver ordnance against SAM sites or high value targets protected by anti air defences is gone, you now send a ground-hugging cruise missile (or several of them at once).
As for weight to ordnance ratio, it was much better than what a flight of B-52 bombers would have been able to achieve - delivering even one 2000-pound bomb for one flight, with the plane returning to base, is better than not delivering hundreds of thoudands of pounds of bombs from a wing of B-52, with none returning to base due to anti air missiles, top air cover, enemy interceptors and so on.

RE: So?
By kingius on 1/26/2011 7:24:46 AM , Rating: 2
Only a fool would consider a weapon in the hands of an enemy to be irrelevant.

RE: So?
By Crank the Planet on 1/26/2011 6:49:10 PM , Rating: 2
So does this mean the Iranians are playing beach volleyball in their tight '80s era shorts and listening to Kenny Loggins?

RE: So?
By 67STANG on 1/26/2011 7:10:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure, but Ahmadinejad is taking Iran right into the danger zone. Zing!

RE: So?
By monkeyman1140 on 1/27/2011 5:35:52 PM , Rating: 2
Does that mean Ahmadinejad is "Playin' with the boys?"

RE: So?
By Desslok on 1/25/2011 12:39:38 PM , Rating: 2
After the Shaw was ovethrown the F-14's were sabotaged by the departing Grumman techs so they could not fire any missles(some say only the Phoenix missle). Because of the paranoid nature of the radicals all the pilots who could fly the Tomcat worth a damn were "purged" out of the Air Force.

So technically you are correct that the Iranians did fly the F-14, but they were mostly used for long range radar platforms during the Iran/Iraq war.

Are they still flying them? No one is sure there is alot of conflicting info.

RE: So?
By pukemon on 1/25/11, Rating: -1
RE: So?
By jjmcubed on 1/25/2011 5:29:35 PM , Rating: 2
He was talking about the Iranian navy...

RE: So?
By zmatt on 1/25/2011 4:52:59 PM , Rating: 2
It is widely known that at least one Iranian Pilot attained "Ace" status in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's flying an F-14. Iraq pilots have gone on the record on more than one occasion stating that they did encounter F-14s and were very afraid of them. if they could fly them in the 1980's then unless their supplier stopped, there is not reason to think they still can't today.

RE: So?
By monkeyman1140 on 1/27/2011 5:34:36 PM , Rating: 2
Iran is still flying the F-14. They were not sabotaged, and flew hundreds of missions in the Iran-Iraq war scoring numerous kills. While the spare parts were embargoed, the Iran-Contra scandal resulted in Iran receiving a C-5 Galaxy full of Hawk missiles, TOW antitank weapons, and you guessed it....F-14 spare parts courtesy of Ronald Reagan.

Right now Iran flies them mostly for airshows and their staged military exercises, but they are now resorting to cannibalizing older planes for parts and the last upgrade they got was a new computer system installed by Russian engineers. Iran is moving much of their frontline hardware to new Russian Sukhoi and Mikoyan-Gurevich aircraft but their older stuff works fine so they are more than content with it for now. It includes the Cobra Attack helicopter, the Huey, and the Chinook. Iran has reverse engineered all 3 of them and has produced hundreds to replace older stock. Iran knows well engineered product when they see it.

RE: So?
By DPigs on 1/25/2011 12:15:44 PM , Rating: 1
Like Turkey?

RE: So?
By AssBall on 1/25/2011 11:53:50 AM , Rating: 5
The F-35 program is an international project from the beginning, Genius.

RE: So?
By nerdboy on 1/25/2011 12:16:29 PM , Rating: 2
AssBall is right, each country will get it's own flavor of the F-35. There will be systems on the US version that won't be sold to any other country.

RE: So?
By theArchMichael on 1/25/2011 2:13:44 PM , Rating: 3
AssBall is right,

HEY!!! There's no need for name-calli...

RE: So?
By VoodooChicken on 1/25/2011 5:57:54 PM , Rating: 2
A mother can be so pround

RE: So?
By Mouth on 1/25/2011 11:59:30 AM , Rating: 2
I would be willing to bet they have captured technology like this using more sophisticated means such as cyber exploitation. Why do the work when you can steal it? Saves on R&D costs.

RE: So?
By InsaneGain on 1/25/2011 2:49:23 PM , Rating: 2
Just yesterday a former Northrop B-2 stealth bomber engineer was sentenced to 32 years in prison for giving stealth technology to the Chinese. There are probably many more technology thefts by the Chinese that haven't been detected.

RE: So?
By FITCamaro on 1/25/2011 2:52:14 PM , Rating: 4
Most of the stories I hear about this kind of thing were from people trying to sell information to FBI operatives posing as Chinese officials or informants.

I suspect the ones who truly do sell technology, we never hear about it.

RE: So?
By Solandri on 1/25/2011 3:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
The case InsaneGain is citing went far beyond that. Gowadia was paid and visited China to help them build the thing.

RE: So?
By FITCamaro on 1/25/2011 2:50:51 PM , Rating: 2
Clinton gave them plenty in return for campaign contributions. Why steal when you can buy?

RE: So?
By monkeyman1140 on 1/27/2011 5:45:07 PM , Rating: 2
Actually Ronald Reagan was the first president to authorize american payloads on chinese space rockets, so the "data sharing" issue started long before Slick Willie.

RE: So?
By BurnItDwn on 1/25/11, Rating: -1
RE: So?
By Calin on 1/26/2011 3:27:41 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, the USA will sell planes to Britain and so on. On the other hand, the Britain and the rest don't even have their hand on a prototype, and it will take maybe 5 years until the production trickles to countries other than USA.
So, a less stealthy F-117 five years ago is better and a stealthier F-35 five years from now.

RE: So?
By monkeyman1140 on 1/27/2011 5:48:24 PM , Rating: 3
The F-35 is unwanted by our allies. The UK only buys them because of their long term economic commitment in our country and our special relationship.
France has the Rafale, they're too nationalistic to buy anything foreign. European nations have the Eurofighter, which will end up cheaper than the pricey F-35, and former Soviet bloc nations are more than happy with their familiar Russian stuff.

The USA will end up doing a lot of economic arm twisting to convince allies to pony up hard currency for this disaster of a plane.

Chinese embassy bombing? accident?
By ChugokuOtaku on 1/25/2011 11:04:10 AM , Rating: 5
finally... it all makes sense now!

RE: Chinese embassy bombing? accident?
By Klinky1984 on 1/25/2011 11:20:48 AM , Rating: 3
You know, now that you bring it up, that sounds more plausible than highly trained military personal going "we were stupid and messed up because we didn't know the area and used a 4yr old map, nor did we have any previous intelligence on where the Chinese embassy might be located".

RE: Chinese embassy bombing? accident?
By ChugokuOtaku on 1/25/2011 11:35:34 AM , Rating: 2
now that the J-20 is out, I guess that embassy bombing didn't really pay off

RE: Chinese embassy bombing? accident?
By FITCamaro on 1/25/2011 2:53:33 PM , Rating: 4
Time to step up the scope of the "accidents".

"Whoops we were testing a new nuclear weapon and didn't know your military base was there.

RE: Chinese embassy bombing? accident?
By Skywalker123 on 1/25/2011 8:59:56 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, because any country that threatens our world hegemony is deserving of nuclear attack.

RE: Chinese embassy bombing? accident?
By ekv on 1/26/2011 3:20:52 AM , Rating: 1
Too bad we can't "nuke" the enemy-within. The far greater threat imo [i.e. continued wasteful gov't spending...].

No worry, that jet will fail itself
By Kompass on 1/25/2011 9:29:26 PM , Rating: 1
No need to worry. This jet will go nowhere. It is probably plagued with fake parts and cheap design. Somewhere in that jet a critical part will fail because someone did something stupid to save $0.10 of manufacturing cost.

Give it time to do some more tests and you will hear things like, pilot seat cracks in half during flight. Pilot felt on the ground. Seat belt mal-funtions and maintained pilot locked unable to reach jet commands. Unmanned jet lost control and crashed.

By aegisofrime on 1/25/2011 11:49:15 PM , Rating: 5
I'm sure that's the Romans' opinion of the Visigoths right before they sacked Rome.

PS: To those who might want to rate me down, my point is don't underestimate anyone.

By Aloonatic on 1/26/2011 4:42:59 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe Daily Tech can just recycle some of the F35 articles then, when listing problems but just change the salient technical points while still keep the rest describing how the program has been dogged with faults, errors and problems...?

Seriously, how brainwashed are you? Do you sit on your porch waving Old Glory chanting "USA, USA, USA" at least once a week? Thought so.

By chick0n on 1/26/2011 11:30:04 AM , Rating: 2
Keep living in your "USA is the best" dreams.

when you wake up, the J-20 will be all over your head.

most chinese in the cities are richer than your sorry little ass sitting in your mom's house basement sucka.

I heard...
By Souka on 1/25/2011 7:52:37 PM , Rating: 2
I heard the tech came from Wikileaks....

RE: I heard...
By monkeyman1140 on 1/27/2011 5:50:19 PM , Rating: 2
The firewall condom broke?

By chromal on 1/25/2011 6:17:47 PM , Rating: 2
It's a ground-attack aircraft, not a fighter. It's subsonic only and not all that maneuverable.

Oh no!
By iluvdeal on 1/25/2011 7:30:13 PM , Rating: 2
Time to build that bomb shelter in my backyard!

By Raiders12 on 1/28/2011 6:55:08 AM , Rating: 2
How does China expect to be a true super power when they cannot develop or research anything for themselves. All you hear about is reverse-engineering everything from aircraft to sneakers to BMWs.

As we are economically tied to them, they are just as reliant on us for economic and technological needs.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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