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J-20 takes flight
Further ahead indeed...

Numerous pictures of the Chinese Chengdu J-20 Black Eagle stealth fighter have surfaced online over the last few weeks. The aircraft has been seen conducting taxi tests at the southwest China Plant 132 facility. Plant 132 is the designation for Chengdu Aircraft reports Defense News.

After government officials initially dismissed the J-20, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted recently that the Chinese "may be somewhat further along" than was previously believed. As Gates is in China for talks with the Chinese government a new report comes out that the J-20 made its first flight. The maiden flight had reportedly been set for January 7, but poor weather forced the flight to be cancelled. 

According to Chinese media, the chase aircraft on the test flight was a Chengdu J-10S Vigorous Dragon fighter. Defense News reports that the test flight will surprise some analysts who though the aircraft wasn’t ready for flight. The maiden flight of the J-20 lasted 18 minutes and was conducted on January 11.

The first flight of the aircraft may be used as a bargaining chip by Taiwan to urge the U.S. to release 66 newer F-16C/D fighters that were requested. The aircraft have been on hold since 2006 due to Chinese pressure on the U.S. to not offer more military aid to Taiwan.

Chinese Minister for National Defense Gen. Liang Guanglie said, "On that, China's position has been clear and consistent - we are against it." He also said, "Because United States arms sales to Taiwan seriously damaged China's core interests and we do not want to see that happen again, neither do we hope that the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will again and further disrupt our bilateral and military-to-military relationship."

The F-16 aircraft that Taiwan wants aren’t likely to be approved by the U.S., but upgrades for the F16A/B fighters Taiwan may get a green light.

Updated 1/12/2011 @ 7:35am EST

Video has been posted of the J-20's first flight. The taxi/liftoff occurs around the 3:06 mark.

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Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Amiga500 on 1/11/2011 12:21:21 PM , Rating: 5
I see the web is littered with people lining up to declare this thing a fighter.

Something that size is never meant for close combat. The wing area is not big enough (and its got too much 1/4 chord sweep), the T/W ratio probably will not be high enough and basic inertia from that size is something that is very hard to overcome.

IMO, people should start thinking F-111, or mini-Tu-22M. Especially considering what the design Mach number of that thing is (going by the Mach cone).

Intercepting a supersonic penetrator with low radar signature will be very difficult in an F/A-18 or F-35; the speed of those two platforms coupled with a reduced reaction time simply makes getting to the J-20 difficult. The F-22, EF-T, Rafale and F-15 should both have a much better chance of forming a successful air defense against this, the F-16 and JAS-39 somewhere in between.

The J-20 may be many things; I'm quietly confident that an air superiority fighter is not one of them.

By MrTeal on 1/11/2011 12:43:12 PM , Rating: 5
You have to keep in mind who most of these web stories are tailored to. Small and looks like a fighter? It's a fighter. Really big? It's a bomber. Funky angles and painted black? Add "stealth-" to the front of it. Maybe it's not the best reporting, but it's meant for the biggest audience possible.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By mmp121 on 1/11/2011 12:45:27 PM , Rating: 2
Some fighter aircraft it turned out to be. It was always a bomber. J-20 looks the same way, especially with its large frame.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By mmp121 on 1/11/2011 12:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
Oops, something happened, I meant to append 'This could be their version of the US F-117A...'

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By gamerk2 on 1/11/2011 12:51:06 PM , Rating: 2
The SU-27, F-15, and F-14, not the mention the F-4 were large too, and at one point or another were air superiority fighters. And those didn't have the benfit of making extensive use of synthetic materials to cut down weight.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By zmatt on 1/11/2011 1:03:31 PM , Rating: 2
This thing is larger than all of those, it pretty obvious looking at the proportion of the cockpit to the rest of the plane.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By petpeeve on 1/11/2011 3:50:41 PM , Rating: 5
looking at the proportion of the cockpit to the rest of the plane

Resisting urge to make joke about how small their pilots would be..

By snakeInTheGrass on 1/13/2011 9:08:09 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, good job. I know I would have given in and said something like "Given that the pilots are 1/2 the size, of course the cockpit looks small."

And then I would have resisted making even more inappropriate comments about size as well as something related to driving...

Way to go, petpeeve, look what you've done now! ;)

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By nafhan on 1/11/2011 1:12:13 PM , Rating: 3
That's what I was thinking, too. It's actually very similar in length and width but probably a little heavier than the Su-35. The Su-35 uses the Saturn 117S engine that some are speculating the J-20 is currently using.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Bigginz on 1/11/2011 11:45:56 PM , Rating: 2
3 points

A: It's the F/A-22 not the F-22. The USAF has spent a lot of time, effort and money adapting this plane to the attack role. That's part of the reason it has taken so long to develop, produce and enter service. It was originally intended for the air superiority role just like the F-15, F-16 and F-14. At some point the USAF realized the F-22 might get cancelled altogether if they didn't adapt it for the attack role. When was the last time an F-15, F-16, F-14 or F/A-18 shot down an enemy airplane? 1991 (maybe 2003). When was the last time any of those jets dropped a bomb or fired an AG missile? Last month (probably last week).

B: It looks like a F/A-22 so people are going to assume it's in the same class as the F/A-22. Many more people would be complaining the US military doesn't know how to classify airplanes. The J-10 is a fighter and so is the J-20.

C: The F/A-22 and PAK-FA are supposed to be "stealth" fighters. And that means carrying weapons in internal bays. You must have a larger plane to carry missiles and bombs internally. The J-20 has canards and will probably have thrust vectoring in the future. This will make it more manueverable in a dog fight.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By kextyn on 1/12/2011 4:57:16 AM , Rating: 2
It IS the F-22. At one point in time they had called it the F/A-22 but since 2005 it has been known as the F-22. The F-22 IS an air superiority fighter... when was the last time you saw one doing bombing/strafing runs in the Middle East? Go ahead and keep calling it the F/A-22 if you want but you're just going to look stupid.

By Amiga500 on 1/12/2011 7:11:58 AM , Rating: 3
I believe they actually ended up calling it the F-22A.

Yeah, sensible I know.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Bigginz on 1/12/2011 11:48:02 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, you're right about the name changing back to F-22. I guess the "F/A" designation was too confusing. I often call the Hornet the F-18 instead of the F/A-18. However, the F-22 will be used for ground attack.

The F-15C remains the only fighter in the U.S. arsenal designed exclusively for air-to-air combat. The F-22 will be multi-role.

Air Force article from 2007 about the F-22 dropping small diameter bombs and JDAMs.

Pic of F-22 dropping JDAM.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Mudhen6 on 1/12/2011 11:45:53 PM , Rating: 2
You're right in that the F-22 is wired to carry bombs. You're wrong in thinking they actually will - nobody is going to risk a $182 million stealth fighter on a strafing run.

The whole "F/A-22" designation was an attempt by the USAF to buy more Raptors, by showing its critics that it's not just a Cold War relic dedicated to a role that no air force in the world is going to challenge.

For the record, USAF F-15Cs are capable of employing bombs as well - the ability to carry bombs is irrelevant. For a true measure of what the USAF is actually uses a particular fighter unit for, look at its training curriculum. Air-to-air combat is an extremely perishable skill, and air-to-air pilots tend to be trained only in air-to-air, all the time, in the USAF. For example, given two units of multi-role F-16Cs, it's more effective to dedicate training of one unit to air-to-air and one to air-to-ground rather than have both units do a mix a -air and -ground.

The training curriculum of F-15C and F-22 pilots reflect this mentality. These pilots spend 99% of their training for air-to-air.

By Calin on 1/13/2011 3:23:16 AM , Rating: 2
They might use insertion teams to "laser paint" high priority targets (like active SAM sites) and F-22A to launch laser guided bombs from an altitude of 20 km. Beats calling a real bomber (B-52, B-2) 20 hours in advance for the strike, and make him hover for hours until the target is ready.
And for effective "strafing runs" you need very slow speed and very good manoeuvrability - and F-22A has only manoeuvrability, not slow speed.

By Bigginz on 1/13/2011 11:30:43 AM , Rating: 2
Good to know the F-22 will focus on air-to-air combat. Maybe 1 day out of the year they will drop some bombs. Or get some practice on the simulator.

I think the only planes that do strafing runs are the A-10 and AC-130. On any other plane it's a last resort. The pilot would have to be desperate. Going low, slow and in a straight line is a great way to get shot down.

Also, I'm wondering what the Air Force will do without a medium range tactical bomber. The F-15E has a ferry range of 2,400 miles. F-22 = 2,000 miles. F-35 = 1,380 miles. I guess they'll have to rely on midair refueling. If it's in hostile territory they'll have to use cruise missiles or long range UAV's.

By skyyspam on 1/12/2011 8:31:51 AM , Rating: 2
The F-15 (minus the E model) is STILL an air superiority model. And, it does it damned well even today.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By nafhan on 1/11/2011 1:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
Lately it seems like new Chinese weapons are often developed around exploiting "chinks" in the US military's armor. A fast stealthy interceptor would be good at attacking things like aircraft carriers and AWACS. In other words, taking out our ability to effectively wage war at a distance, and keeping us out of their back yard.
Anyway, calling it a fighter isn't that big of a stretch. You mentioned the F-111 in your post... That's primarily a strike aircraft, but it's got the F designation. More importantly, even if it's not a dog fighter it's likely that it could still be effective at medium and beyond visual range fighting.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By zixin on 1/11/2011 1:18:57 PM , Rating: 4
What do you expect? When you build a new military force, you want it to exceed the currently best. And that would be the US military.

By nafhan on 1/11/2011 3:03:06 PM , Rating: 4
Actually, I didn't mean exceed.
I was meaning that they are concentrating their new weapons systems in areas that exploit our weaknesses. It's a cheaper, yet still effective way to combat a technologically superior enemy.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By th3pwn3r on 1/11/2011 1:01:38 PM , Rating: 2
"Another Pentagon official, Colonel Dave Lapan, was even more dismissive of the J-20, stating; "Our assessment of when China might have an operational fifth generation fighter puts it at some point in the future, close to the end of this decade.""

""U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently clarified the concerns in the U.S. over the J-20. He noted during a press conference that China "may be somewhat further ahead in the development of the aircraft than our intelligence had earlier predicted.""

I guess they can't make up their minds what they want us sheep to believe. Maybe the decade Colonel Dave Lapan was speaking of already ended at 2010? Regardless of it being a fighter, bomber or a fighter/bomber I don't think anyone wants China to an even playing field when it comes to their Military weaponry/technology.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By 91TTZ on 1/11/2011 1:53:01 PM , Rating: 5
Even though this fighter has flown for the first time, that doesn't mean that it's close to being ready for deployment. The F-22 prototype (YF-22 first flew in 1990, but the design was refined for another 7 years or so until it was finalized. Then after it was finalized, it took another 8 or 9 years to go into service. Admittedly, they dragged their feet during the F-22's development, but it still takes a while from first flight to being service ready.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By tinyface on 1/11/2011 2:16:50 PM , Rating: 5
Then you have to realize a road project that takes 5 years to finish in US can be done within 6 months in China. While US is talking about where to build its first ever high speed train rail, China has already built 5000 miles of such rails (much of it was funded by the government stimulus money) and eventually will double the length in 3-5 years.
Wake up America, China is emerging as a new global power whether you like it or not.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Amiga500 on 1/11/2011 2:18:56 PM , Rating: 3
Wake up America, China is emerging as a new global power whether you like it or not.

Erm... that would be re-emerging.

For most of human history, China has been the de-facto "global" power as far as our globe is concerned.

By Calin on 1/13/2011 3:17:52 AM , Rating: 2
The first "global" power were the Huns - they terrorized both the Chinese and the European. The Chinese were a global power only in their back yard, as were the Romans, as were the Indians (south Asia Indians).

By TerranMagistrate on 1/11/2011 2:48:58 PM , Rating: 5
Albeit much of the technology running on top of those Chinese rails was stolen from Japanese and German companies.

By Scabies on 1/11/2011 4:08:26 PM , Rating: 2
which reminds me, wasn't there a story within the past two years about a server hack against either the F-22 or F-35?

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Don Tonino on 1/11/2011 4:14:47 PM , Rating: 1
Actually foreign companies have been racing to bid and win the chinese requests of tenders for high speed railways (and any other railway related bid as well, in fact) because those requests are, by all common standards, huge: think an order of magnitude more than what is common everywhere else (mostly because of the sheer size of the country and economy). Thus, the technology behind these trains is mostly if not completely foreign but most of the contracts awarded come with the condition that the vehicles must be built or assembled in factories situated in China, something that is possible only because of the size of the contracts again. This allows of course for a knowledge transfer to the chinese workforce and companies, but this transfer is allowed and accepted by the same foreign companies which can't avoid it: either accept it or pull out of a market which is extremely lucrative. Also, quite often the technology and knowledge transfer is explicitly part of the contract: China has been buying the technology in order to cover the gap between its own railway technology and the foreign one.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Calin on 1/13/2011 3:28:49 AM , Rating: 2
Just like to win American sales, European and Japanese companies must open factories in the U S of A. Toyota? Volkswagen? EADS promises for the future air tanker?
It's just the same all over the world.
And by the way, if the train company folds, or won't produce again the design sold to the Chinese, the Chinese can make it anew.
The T-54 tanks that came to Romania (were bought by Romania) came with all the blueprints for everything (thousands and thousands of pages), so that we could repair/rebuild anything (and we even produced T-54 derived tanks)

By Don Tonino on 1/14/2011 7:19:53 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, it's the same principle and is a very common business practice. There is no need to steal a technology which you can easily buy and yes, the Chinese just have bought the technology of high speed trains. Maybe they have stolen some of the technology behind their old attempts at HST, but when they realized they couldn't bridge the gap they just scrapped everything and went on a shopping spree.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By wielander on 1/11/2011 3:03:27 PM , Rating: 3
The one area the American government has never really skimped on is defense. Defense spending hasn't dropped below ~50% of our government's discretionary spending in the last 50 years.

It's harder for us to set up a high speed train line because of the way our government is set up. It's not so much a failure of bureaucracy (well not entirely), as it is a consequence of democracy. We have limited resources that have to be divided up somewhat fairly. It's hard to justify extremely expensive high speed rail lines that would only benefit a small percentage US citizens regularly. China in contrast doesn't have to care about or provide adequately for all of its citizens.

By zmatt on 1/11/2011 3:11:16 PM , Rating: 2
agreed, the reason we don't have modern, high speed rial in the US is because it is a poor fit for us. Places where it does exist, Europe and Japan mainly are much smaller and had their existing rail infrastructure destroyed by yours truly. When you think that many of our cities are far apart and themselves not equipped with a local rail system it is far more costly and less efficient than plane or car.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By SPOOFE on 1/11/2011 5:15:40 PM , Rating: 4
Then you have to realize a road project that takes 5 years to finish in US can be done within 6 months in China.

Then you have to realize that they can do this by ignoring silly little nuisances like "property rights" and "humane working conditions". They can't so glibly ignore things like, oh, "the laws of physics" or "structural engineering", facets that are far more delicate in designing aircraft versus a big bridge.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Danish1 on 1/12/2011 11:08:56 PM , Rating: 2
In China what do you think matters the most, getting the thing airborne ASAP or taking any possible measure to protect the test pilots life?

and then ask yourself the same question about the US.

Obviously the chinese don't want to lose their prototype if they can avoid it but human life just doesn't hold the same value for them as it does for us and that goes for every aspect of their society including the part that is bringing a new jet to the table.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By JackPack on 1/12/2011 11:29:05 PM , Rating: 2
The test pilot for the J-20 has been flying pre-production aircraft for over 20 years.

But that goes against your propaganda, so just ignore that fact.

By Danish1 on 1/13/2011 8:36:48 AM , Rating: 2
Grats on missing the point.

By kingius on 1/13/2011 9:36:51 AM , Rating: 1
The U.S. values human life? Come again?

How many innocents must die by U.S. soldiers, U.S. weapons and U.S. decisions before you change your mind?

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By geddarkstorm on 1/11/2011 3:42:52 PM , Rating: 2
You'd be surprised what people can do when they are motivated.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Pneumothorax on 1/11/2011 4:09:41 PM , Rating: 4
You'd be surprised what humans will do when your "Friendly Neighborhood Execution Bus" is available within minutes from a call from your local Communist Party Official.

By MGSsancho on 1/11/2011 5:12:33 PM , Rating: 2
Those buses are only for people were were convicted of a crime in court. no need to call the bus if you simply want them dead

By kingius on 1/13/2011 9:38:29 AM , Rating: 2
It might just be that they have a national project that they are proud of and so work hard to fulfill it. Whereas here in the west... money is the only motivator.

By Calin on 1/13/2011 3:14:44 AM , Rating: 2
Reaching perfection is a very long road - while the "definitive" J-20 version might need 10 more years of research and 5 more years until production, a "good enough" J-20 might be flying by the numbers in a couple of years.
The Chinese don't have the same aversion as the US has for losing pilots - so they might be using less than perfect, existing technology. Remember that Japanese losses at Pearl Harbour were quite a bit lesser than the their losses during training. And even a loss of one plane and pilot per 100 flights would be considered insignifiant versus keeping the US Navy far away

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Ammohunt on 1/11/2011 4:14:25 PM , Rating: 2
also if you watch the takoff video you can see the engines in full after burner and the plane barely taking off. My guesss is the engines are severely under powered.

By BernardP on 1/11/2011 4:44:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but this prototype is only a plywood flying mockup. The all-metal version will be much lighter...

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By MGSsancho on 1/11/11, Rating: 0
RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By fredgiblet on 1/11/2011 9:16:58 PM , Rating: 3
The SR-71 was a special case. It's engines were hybrid turbojet/ramjets with the turbojets made as small (and thus weak) as possible while still getting them into the air so that they didn't disrupt the ramjets once it got up to speed. They had to take off at full power with a very light fuel load and then refuel in the air because their main engines were intentionally underpowered. IIRC they also had to go into a dive to break the sound barrier before their ramjets would start working and allow them to begin rapid acceleration.

By 67STANG on 1/13/2011 7:17:30 PM , Rating: 3
Wasn't it because they leaked fuel from their airframe until it was properly heated? It had to be constructed this way because of there was no way to seal the fuel system that could handle the high heat that the aircraft was exposed to. Once everything was nice and toasty and they weren't losing fuel to leakage, they were refueled in the air to begin their mission. Sounds a bit crazy, but this was insane technology in the 60's. The 60's!

By the way, the company that I work for made the engines for the SR-71 =)

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Amiga500 on 1/12/2011 7:13:57 AM , Rating: 2
Or you want to make sure you've a sizeable excess of thrust in case one engine fails. ;-)

Everything may not be as obvious as it seems. :-)

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Ammohunt on 1/12/2011 3:02:28 PM , Rating: 2
I would believe that if the plane accelerated as such what i see in the video is full afterburner very slow take off speed.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By JackPack on 1/12/2011 11:32:13 PM , Rating: 2
It's so obvious the J-20 was NOT using afterburners during takeoff. In fact, experts were talking about that aspect of the test.

But hey, don't me dissuade you from your wishful thinking.

By Ammohunt on 1/14/2011 4:21:45 PM , Rating: 2
Hello! Stealth air craft..stealth afterburners! you can't see them in the pictures! <joke> you are probably right we are all doomed! I have started to learn chinese Ni Hao!

By Calin on 1/13/2011 3:50:32 AM , Rating: 2
I looked at the video, and the plane was barely moving then it took off and started climbing.
And the Concorde took off with full afterburners and at 400 km/h (some 250 mph), but it wasn't underpowered at all.

By BZDTemp on 1/11/2011 5:15:59 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe people are just saying "Fighter" because of the USAF doing the same with the F117.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Aloonatic on 1/12/2011 4:10:22 AM , Rating: 2
There seem to be a lot of people in the know about theses things, so I thought I'd ask in your thread.

Just what is a "fighter" these days?

We live in an era of stealth and radar/long range missiles that essentially make the role of a fighter plane, in the sense of a "dog fighting" plane an anathema.

I'm guessing that F16s and F18 are counted as fighters, but how useful are they, or will they be in 10 years time, which is when the F22/J-20 are going to be roaming the skies in numbers?

By Mudhen6 on 1/12/2011 11:54:35 PM , Rating: 2
A "fighter" describes any aircraft that can participate in air-to-air combat. It's a general term, and has been true with the sole exception of the F-117 stealth fighter (which could only carry bombs)

Anyway, being described as a fighter doesn't mean said plane will be good at it.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By talonvor on 1/12/2011 8:26:23 PM , Rating: 2
Nah, the update of the F18 to carry the AIM54 phoenix makes this thing an easy target. As far as its stealth abilities go. Well, we will just have to wait and see.

By 91TTZ on 1/13/2011 11:07:43 AM , Rating: 2
Huh? The F-18 can't carry the Phoenix missile. The Phoenix missile isn't even in service anymore, it was retired.

Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By TerranMagistrate on 1/11/2011 3:13:17 PM , Rating: 2
There has never been a better time than now to order an additional 400 or so F-22s to meet this growing threat to our national security. It will keep around 95,000 people employed for a long time, we can replace our aging fleet of F-15s, and maintain the air dominance that we've held for the last 40 years.

Taiwan should be very nervous because if the U.S. continues on its current course of cancellations and cutbacks, its days as an independent country are numbered.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By mellomonk on 1/11/2011 4:51:27 PM , Rating: 2
Negative. I don't even think you could find many in the Pentagon who feel the need for 400 additional air superiority fighters at that cost. The world is a far different place then when the F-22 was proposed, designed, and built.

If jobs are the issue, you would employee considerably more in any number of defense as well non-defense projects with the funds needed to restart and build F-22. $150 million + a pop fighters based on 20 year old concepts and designs do not create that many jobs, especially considering the costs of our current conflicts and standing defense forces.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By roykahn on 1/12/2011 6:48:16 AM , Rating: 1
The world is a far different place then when the F-22 was proposed, designed, and built.

Not entirely. I believe the US military budget has progressively increased since the end of the cold war, so you can't pretend that military spending is correlated to threats to US military dominance.

Government and military leaders want their public to think that there is a contstant threat to the safety of its country. That will allow them to stay in power and to maintain its military and economic stranglehold on other countries.

The argument about creating jobs is absurd. Instead of creating jobs that help mankind, like in social services and environmentalism, it somehow seems preferable to create weapons and continue terrorising foreign countries.

considering the costs of our current conflicts

Replace the world conflicts with invasions and you'd be closer to the truth. The world "conflict" is what an aggressor uses to describe its military activities. You shouldn't repeat such propoganda tools yourself.

By TerranMagistrate on 1/12/2011 10:18:21 AM , Rating: 2
What better way to help mankind than maintaining peace through overwhelming force used as a deterrent.

By roykahn on 1/12/2011 6:12:06 PM , Rating: 1
I hope you're being sarcastic there :-P There is no peace when the US gets involved in another country. But I guess it depends what your definition of peace is. US leaders prefer to use the term "stability", like "wer'e seeking to create stability in country X". There's a key difference. You can create stability by overthrowing a democratically elected government and/or by invading that country with military force. It sure as hell doesn't result in peace, but it sure does result in economic conditions that are ripe for US investors.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By Eris23007 on 1/12/2011 1:52:59 PM , Rating: 4
Absolutely incorrect. The defense budget shrank CONSIDERABLY after the end of the cold war (this was termed the "peace dividend") and only started increasing after 9/11.


Note that, looking forward, budgets are slated to go back down, except for interest on the debt created by defense spending (though I would like to better understand how they calculate that number).

It has been fairly convincingly argued that the so-called "peace dividend" is part of the reason we are spending so much more now - we stopped spending on increasing / modernizing defense capabilities, and when you do that sort of thing it gets far more expensive to restart later due to re-establishing the capabilities that have been allowed to diminish / expire.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By roykahn on 1/12/2011 6:03:06 PM , Rating: 2
I stand corrected. However, I don't see how you can say it shrank "considerably". The end of the cold war and the number one perceived threat to US world dominance having been removed should have resulted in a much larger drop. Other excuses were given to keep military spending high. I think it was the technological advancements of third world countries or some such nonsense.

Your choice of words are misleading. You say that "we stopped spending on increasing defence capabilities". A small decrease in the huge annual military budget isn't really a change in priorities. And the word "defence" implies that military spending is needed to keep the US safe from hostile attackers. The US has been responsible for most attacks by a foreign force which had little, if any, relation to "defence".

By Mudhen6 on 1/13/2011 12:00:59 AM , Rating: 2
You're oversimplifying things and understating the decrease in spending - the US government can't simply just "stop" spending. Military programs are in progress all the time. You can't just cancel them because the Soviet Union crumbled overnight - you'd be left with a lot of unemployed and pissed off people.

In fact, if anything, part of the reason why spending remains high is that with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, military programs in progress at the time (such as the F-22) had their development stretched - which saved in short-term costs but in the long-run caused program expenses to balloon out of proportion.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By NanoTube1 on 1/11/2011 5:18:12 PM , Rating: 1
The US should go after unmanned stealth fighter drones with everything they have. This is the real future, not the F22 (as mighty as it may be).

If an MQ-9 Reaper drone costs $10.5M, I would say that a cost of $25M for a full fledged stealth fighter drone makes sense (an F15 costs around $30M). An F22 costs $150M so do the math:

6 drones for every single F22, not to mention the pilots. Instead of 400, you'll have 2,400 cutting edge drones...

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By wiz220 on 1/11/2011 5:42:43 PM , Rating: 1
Couldn't agree more! China is developing craft to fight the battles of the late 1900's. Let them spend billions on all of these new projects, we already have a response.

I think that the Pentagon knew that we were going to be transitioning to UCAV's in the near future and that might be one of the factors that went into deciding that the F-22 project could be ended. The money saved by cancelling the F-22 can build huge fleets of UCAV's and develop new detection techniques for other country's stealthy planes.

By JackPack on 1/12/2011 12:50:22 PM , Rating: 2
Four letters: ASAT

No communications satellite means your UCAV is a dead stick.

By zmatt on 1/11/2011 7:06:37 PM , Rating: 1
I agree 100%. China may have a numerical advantage when it comes to manpower, but if we convert our military to drones then it wont matter. We loose drones, we just build more, you can't replace experienced pilots. Just ask germany by the end of the war most of their "pilots" could barely fly a plane. If we take them out of the equation then we have already won.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By ekv on 1/12/2011 3:22:31 AM , Rating: 2
The US should go after unmanned stealth fighter drones
There are pluses and minuses. Maneuverability and, in general, performance is a win for UCAV's. Cost of course is also a win.

Autonomy is not. If a decision is made to fire a weapon you want a "real live person" in the loop making that decision. That is the reason UCAV's are remotely piloted. Which means a comm. link ... and those links are vulnerable.

You can try to engineer around this ... AI has come a long ways (any decent video game proves it). But then you'll drive up complexity and cost ... and there's always the Skynet possibility, not to mention viruses (stuxnet) and hackers.

By TerranMagistrate on 1/12/2011 7:51:37 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly and not to mention the vulnerability of satellites, which I think China has the ability to reach with certain missiles that they have developed.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By corduroygt on 1/12/2011 8:33:02 AM , Rating: 2
How about having that Laser equipped 747 as the command and control plane, where the UCAV pilots sit? It'd be short range communications broadcast with a ton of power. Hard to jam something like that.

By TerranMagistrate on 1/12/2011 8:46:48 AM , Rating: 2
You jam it with a long range air-to-air missile, using an interceptor like this J-20.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By corduroygt on 1/12/2011 11:34:16 AM , Rating: 2
Not when the airborne laser shoots the missiles down.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By JackPack on 1/12/2011 12:59:04 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, if there's a single missile coming from the front.

You really think a J-20 would be silly enough to do a head-on approach? Or that a battery of S-400 SAM systems cannot overwhelm a 747 with a single laser? Or that China hasn't already covered their strategic missiles with the same heat-resistant tiles used on the Shuttle to nullify the airborne laser?

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By ekv on 1/12/2011 3:02:16 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, if there's a single missile
I'd agree with that since the ABL 747 "is primarily designed as a missile defense system to destroy tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs), while in boost phase." The ATL is designed for ground targets.

Having said that, keep in mind that planes can actually maneuver, and the rotational spec's on the 747's mirror aren't common knowledge. Keep in mind that, per suggestion, this 747 would be more like AWACS, with laser instead of radar. Lots of communications gear. That means lots of UCAV's. You could "tether" an entire wing off one plane. That means the 747 isn't exactly an easy target. Think about it.
heat-resistant tiles
Interesting. I'm not a physicist, so this may actually work, but I suspect it won't since mirroring has questionable utility. Most communist-type scientists are looking at liquids. Do you have any links that supports your claim?

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By JackPack on 1/12/2011 7:54:04 PM , Rating: 2
What you've described makes the 747 an even bigger sitting duck.

Not only does that 747 have a massive infrared and radar signature, now it's emitting all sorts of radio emissions which is perfect for an anti-radiation missile.

Regarding the nose laser turret... quite frankly, that should be the least of your concerns. Tests have indicated the ABL takes 2 minutes to shoot down an unprotected missile. During that time, there’s probably going to be more than 1 air-to-air missile heading towards the 747 at Mach 4+. There are a multitude of other issues such as the range of the laser being only 200-250 km, turbulence, direction of attack, etc.

The silica tiles used on the Shuttle remain cool to the touch even when exposed to a blowtorch. Even the Apollo used an ablative heat shield. This is nothing new.
Liquid what? Even countries like DPRK and Iran have moved to solid motors.

By NanoTube1 on 1/13/2011 5:30:04 PM , Rating: 2
Some of your points are valid.
However, what's important to remember is that everything in today's battlefield is integrated and layered. A 747 serving as a local control system for drones does not "sit" in the air all by itself. It is protected by air superiority fighters such as the F22 or dedicated drones, and there are other layers as well. The J20s need to successfully negotiate all this stuff before it can down these 747s, even if it is equipped with BVR weapons.

Furthermore, remember that when you have armies of drones doing most of the combat you can deploy your 187 F22 to protect these 747 assets. 187 of those should be enough.

Last but not least, today, a manned fighter plane is just as vulnerable to virus/cyber/com attacks as an unmanned drone. If anything, it is even worse because if compromised, you will almost surely lose the pilot as well.

By ekv on 1/14/2011 1:42:09 AM , Rating: 2
What you've described makes the 747 an even bigger sitting duck.
Wasn't my idea to begin with, however, by the same measure AWACS has a massive "signature" as well. Those are indeed highly prized targets. That still does not make them easy targets.

My point was simply, if whatever you have to throw at the 747, for example, has to go through potentially hundreds of UCAV's, each with their own munitions, I doubt much if anything is going to make it. Not to mention fighter cover. If you want to lob some nukes, ok, that's another story (which has two sides to it).

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By Skywalker123 on 1/11/2011 6:30:05 PM , Rating: 1
Taiwan's days are numbered, no matter what the U.S. does.

By TerranMagistrate on 1/12/2011 8:50:00 AM , Rating: 2
Don't be so certain, comrade.

By Roy2001 on 1/12/2011 1:06:51 PM , Rating: 3
"There has never been a better time than now to order an additional 400 or so F-22s to meet this growing threat to our national security"
I am curious, how can China threat to US national security? They want to invade Eroupe? Hawaii? Or even Guam? We already have trillions of deficit and debt, remember the fall of USSR?

By Calin on 1/13/2011 3:59:38 AM , Rating: 2
As both the F-22 and this new J-20 are land-based, they aren't much of a threat to each other (with the distance between USA and China exceeding 2000 miles).
The J-20 is an likely enemy mostly for carrier-based aircrafts and bombers.

But what is it?
By Astral Abyss on 1/11/2011 2:58:51 PM , Rating: 1
It looks like it's pregnant. What an ugly, bulbous looking aircraft.

RE: But what is it?
By Brandon Hill on 1/11/2011 4:00:42 PM , Rating: 3
I'd like to see you say that to the business end of an A-10 Warthog in combat :-)

RE: But what is it?
By NanoTube1 on 1/11/2011 5:08:31 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know man... it looks like a mean MF to me.

RE: But what is it?
By AssBall on 1/11/2011 6:37:56 PM , Rating: 3
I think it looks pretty good. Looks like it could take a fairly beefy fuel or armament load.

By Bigginz on 1/11/2011 5:51:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not a diplomat, but I would tell China not to worry about how many F-16's Taiwan has. Just don't invade Taiwan and it won't be a problem.

It would be foolish for Taiwan to attack China considering geographic area and population. So you can assume Taiwan would only use its military for defense. China's long term plan is to restrict the quality and quantity of military hardware coming into Taiwan so they can invade with minimal losses.

RE: Diplomacy
By Lerianis on 1/12/2011 1:38:27 AM , Rating: 2
Well, you are forgetting that the Chinese want to play like China is part of their country (they are not, never were, and I don't think ever will be).

China needs to realize that Taiwan is NOT theirs, and then the big kids can move on to more important discussions.

RE: Diplomacy
By FoundationII on 1/12/2011 7:56:55 AM , Rating: 2
They actually were part of china before the Chinese civil war.
It's a remnant of the Kuomintang which retreated to the island Taiwan.
To this day the actual name of Taiwan is 'Republic of China' while China is called 'People's Republic of China'

The People's Republic of China claim they're rulers of all of China (including the island of taiwan) while the Republic of China claims they're independent.

RE: Diplomacy
By Grape Flavor on 1/14/2011 1:44:42 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, not even the ROC claims they're independent. The ROC's official position is that THEY legally rule all China. And the US subscribes in theory to "one China".

If the ROC actually DID declare independence, that's when the sh*t hits the fan and the guns start blazing...

No Worries
By Spoogie on 1/12/2011 8:18:34 AM , Rating: 2
They can't drive, so they sure as hell can't fly worth a shit.

RE: No Worries
By JackPack on 1/12/2011 1:03:23 PM , Rating: 2
Who needs to fly when F-22s are dropping out of the sky?

RE: No Worries
By bangmal on 1/12/2011 7:00:58 PM , Rating: 2
American people are good at driving -- good at driving into land mines

RE: No Worries
By Mudhen6 on 1/13/2011 12:05:32 AM , Rating: 2
Don't quit your day job - comedy is clearly not suited for you.

By DigitalFreak on 1/11/2011 3:49:09 PM , Rating: 2
I have to wonder if the Chinese are capable of coming up with things on their own. Everything they do seems to be stolen from someone else.

RE: Stolen
By Bubbacub on 1/11/2011 4:19:09 PM , Rating: 1
why re-invent the wheel, when you can look over your neighbour's shoulder and copy the design?

a country only really needs to develop truly new technology when it is amongst the most advanced nations.

having said that i doubt china has needed to steal very much from the US to develop this plane.

the theory behind reducing radar reflections is no secret and they have had decades of experience of building 4/4.5 gen planes based off russian designs (not stolen from russia)

RE: Stolen
By bangmal on 1/12/2011 6:58:06 PM , Rating: 2
It seems more like it is the americans are stealing/begging around the world, invading countries around stealing wealth and call them liberations, yet have to beg the Chinese to buy their debt.

RE: Stolen
By InsaneGain on 1/13/2011 6:38:20 PM , Rating: 2
There is no doubt that the Chinese have put a lot of effort into military technology espionage for quite a while now. Over 10 years ago they stole U.S. radar based wake propagation detection technology that will let them detect underwater US nuclear submarines, seriously comprising one of the most important branches of the US nuclear triad. They also stole U.S. miniaturized nuclear warheads so they could fit them on their ICBMs as well as U.S. nuclear cruise missile technology. These are just 3 of the thefts that have been detected and publicized. You can bet stealth technology has been high on their "want" list.

I see why US isn't worried
By aguilpa1 on 1/11/2011 10:04:11 PM , Rating: 3
There are no computer controlled air surfaces, no vector thrust assembly, I see why the US says no problem.

RE: I see why US isn't worried
By avxo on 1/12/2011 12:02:26 AM , Rating: 2
There are no computer controlled air surfaces

And you know this how? Are you expecting computer-controlled air surfaces to be painted bright red or something? Or were you looking for that "Intel Inside" sticker?

It's almost certain that the J-20 is fully fly-by-wire. In other words, all surfaces are, in essence, computer controlled. Stickers or not.

no vector thrust assembly

That should be "no vector thrust assembly yet ."

And let's not forget, that it might not even need thrust-vectoring. It's described as a fighter aircraft, but it's entirely possible that the Chinese see it as a very fast, long range ground attack aircraft, and that dogfight scenarios, where thrust-vectoring would be an advantage, are not a high-priority to them.

RE: I see why US isn't worried
By sorry dog on 1/16/2011 12:47:41 PM , Rating: 2
I'm no aero engineer but the fact that it has a delta config with canards means it will have a FBW computer to control the canards, flaperons, blow flaps, slats, and other aero do dads that help offset the delta's problems with low speed handling and high alpha situations.

One's of the Concorde's biggest development hurdles was designing a delta shape with acceptable trade-offs... something the TU-144 didn't really achieve.

This plane seems to make a stealth compromise from the rear as the nozzles and turbine section does look shrouded like other stealth designs... and I wonder what they've done for skin coating as that is still a major maintenance issue for other stealth designs. I imagine they are still cutting their teeth on that problem.

I think 8-10 years is probably a good estimate for the amount time for defence stategists to come up with a counter for this system.

Maybe Joss Whedon was right...
By jvillaro on 1/12/2011 10:02:26 AM , Rating: 2
when everybody in the future on Firefly was speaking mandarin (or some other Chinese dialect) and dressing accordantly :)

RE: Maybe Joss Whedon was right...
By jvillaro on 1/12/2011 10:08:51 AM , Rating: 2
...accordingly... sorry, damn you google dictionary!

What would Taiwan do
By Belard on 1/14/2011 9:36:26 AM , Rating: 2
Okay.. lets say Taiwan got 66new F16 fighters... so what? That brings Taiwan's total to 100~120 total jet fighters?

About 20 F22s would wipe them out. And next door China would easily swarm the skies.

Overall, China should just let it go... They are a big dog with a huge stick, the business that Taiwan & China do together is mutually important. They should simply view them as HK, but without actually running the country. Offer them "protection" against say... N.Korea, etc. Its not worth this aggravation... but its a matter of "face", but geez - work it out.

USA won't get that involved... not worth a war.

RE: What would Taiwan do
By Belard on 1/14/2011 9:50:09 AM , Rating: 2
PS: The Chengdu J-10S Vigorous Dragon is a Chinese version of the F16 (has many design elements & functions & capabilities), appears to be taken from the rejected Israeli Lavi fighter (which is also based off the F16). ;)

Give it a few years, China will have a much cheaper version of the F35 they can sell to the USA.

It will be the best again
By Cullinaire on 1/12/2011 4:12:49 AM , Rating: 2
Look for this jet to dominate all

in BF3.

By Mitch101 on 1/12/2011 9:07:32 AM , Rating: 2
Does anyone know when they will be for sale on DealExtreme? ;)

All I hope is...
By Beenthere on 1/12/2011 9:27:00 AM , Rating: 1
...that everyone of them is shot out of the sky before they are able to do evil.

RE: All I hope is...
By Grape Flavor on 1/14/2011 12:54:35 AM , Rating: 1
We gotta get all them evildoers, who would kill at the whim of a hat.

By AntDX316 on 1/13/2011 3:22:38 AM , Rating: 2
Because they can take immediate action against a threat when the US says no or is not available.

J-20 engines
By v9s on 1/13/2011 9:16:42 AM , Rating: 2
The J-20 is using the indigenous WS-10G engine.

Reports coming out from reliable sources that the engines are TVC capable, but have been "locked".

TWR of thw engine is supposedly around 8-8.5

By a1trips on 1/12/2011 11:45:03 AM , Rating: 1
The way it looks, This thing is DOA.. those surfaces look kewl, but the only way all of them would be needed is a shortlist of horrible ideas.
1: active stealth @360 view: no way the chinese habe the cheeps to that? or do they.
2: worse, someone will remember this, but wasn't there lit about sixth generation stealth.. active plasma emitters? i doubt it but the shape < minus that ass> is amusingly close.
3: big propaganda coup by the commies, again, as usual. closest to truth i think. but then those server hacks.hmm
I may be entirely FOS but i make the chinese think, lol

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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