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Chinese J-20 stealth fighter
U.S. officials weigh in on the J-20

We reported last week that China is doing taxi trials of its new J-20 stealth fighter. The J-20 is being seen as a competitor for both the Lockheed F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter (which is going out of production after 187 units have been produced), and the more "workhorse" Lockheed F-35 Lightning II.

Despite the leaked pictures that clearly show that China has something quite advanced in its back pocket, U.S. officials are downplaying the significance of the J-20 in its current state according to Reuters. While the plane appears to be in finished form, it hasn't actually taken to the air like Russia's Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter

"It's still not clear to me when it's going to become operational," said U.S. Vice Admiral David Dorsett who is director of naval intelligence. "Developing a stealth capability with a prototype and then integrating that into a combat environment is going to take some time." 

Dorsett believes that China is still a few years away from actually deploying its stealth fighter.

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."

Regardless of how long it will take China to field the J-20, it would likely be unwise to underestimate the capabilities of the Chinese military which is using its robust economy to bolster its military might.

The United States has a highly capable platform with the F-22, but its numbers are quite limited due to cost overruns. Likewise, the F-35 is a much more versatile platform (it will be replacing the F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, and A-10), but it's development has been marred by setbacks and it too has been plagued with cost overruns.

It would be interesting to see how new T-50 and J-20 stack up to the latest and greatest from America, but hopefully we'll never have to find out in the real world.

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What did you expect the Pentagon to say?
By JackPack on 1/6/2011 9:58:12 PM , Rating: 4
What did you expect the Pentagon to say?

Did you really expect to hear the truth, sans politicking?

Pentagon spokesperson: "This J-20 has longer endurance and a larger weapons bay compared to the F-35. And the F-35 forms the future backbone of the USAF and USN.... In fact, this J-20 uses stealthy DSI intakes -- something even the F-22 doesn't have. This compute-intensive intake design was only recently introduced on the F-35 and has arguably better frontal stealth shaping than any other fighter."

"... oh, and this means the USAF and USN will no longer be able to freely penetrate airspace defended by this fighter."

RE: What did you expect the Pentagon to say?
By kingmotley on 1/6/2011 10:29:32 PM , Rating: 5
I would expect them to say, we need financing to combat this credible threat or we'll all die.

RE: What did you expect the Pentagon to say?
By FITCamaro on 1/7/2011 11:05:22 AM , Rating: 3
It's far more important to give things away for free to those who will vote for Democrats.

By snakeInTheGrass on 1/7/2011 3:23:21 PM , Rating: 2
Or let companies move jobs overseas if you'll just vote Republican?

I really don't understand how anyone can think either party is doing us any favors. It's incredibly irritating to see these 'party talking point' types of comments (oh yeah, look at those bad Dems/Reps!), though it's clearly the kind of thing both parties thrive on since it distracts from the fact that across all of the meaningful issues, whether social or fiscal, both parties have been screwing us over.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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