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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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RE: Interceptor
By Thelookingglass on 1/6/2011 10:05:10 PM , Rating: 2
They downplay its practicality because by the time its operational drones will be the end all be all.

Drones have so many advantages over manned planes
- Smaller, Cheaper, Less complex.
- Mass producible. At some point they will be at least.
- No formal pilot. Which means far cheaper training and no "deaths".
- Far more maneuverable. Pilots can pull ~9Gs for a short moment. Drones could pull 40+ sustained.


RE: Interceptor
By JackPack on 1/6/2011 10:35:03 PM , Rating: 2
Be all and end all?

Four letters: ASAT

Without communications satellites, those things are dead sticks. AI is nowhere advanced enough in the near future to trust a $60 million UCAV to complete its mission without human intervention.


RE: Interceptor
By ekv on 1/7/2011 2:15:18 AM , Rating: 2
"ASAT"

China has been testing those too. American technology has helped a little too much with their ability to launch rockets 8(


RE: Interceptor
By indignation on 1/7/11, Rating: -1
RE: Interceptor
By rcc on 1/7/2011 12:55:46 PM , Rating: 1
More like 1.3 - 1.5 billion. But nice try.

Although there is certainly some validity in their classic quantity response to threats.


RE: Interceptor
By Wiggy Mcshades on 1/7/2011 4:09:40 PM , Rating: 1
Look into how hard it is to be a fight pilot, even if china could make a never ending number of jets they wouldn't be able to train pilots fast enough or in great enough numbers. You need to have 20/20 vision uncorrected, the percentage of people with that is actually declining. Also they cant just throw together poor quality jets, they wouldn't fly. At the speeds fighter jets travel at any small quality issue is going to result in the jet going down or breaking up mid flight.


RE: Interceptor
By snakeInTheGrass on 1/7/2011 3:16:25 PM , Rating: 3
Given the access the Chinese have to our networks, technology, and the production of weapons to destroy our communications infrastructure, it would be interesting to see how well remote control planes work. Something tells me that jamming/stopping that drone control signal (uh, or even just viewing it themselves if the U.S. drone brilliance in Iraq is an indicator) may be an issue for us.

And, unless I'm missing something, if drones do turn out to be the best answer, China now has the manufacturing capability (thanks Boeing/US govt./tech companies?) to churn those out cheaper than we can too. And maybe even control over some of the minerals needed.


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