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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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Fight!
By LazLong on 1/7/2011 1:37:36 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
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.


Let's just have a fully-armed arena-style smackdown and see who comes out on top.




RE: Fight!
By Solandri on 1/7/2011 4:43:58 AM , Rating: 5
There's an apocryphal story about that. Back in the 1970s the U.S. got its hands on the latest and greatest Soviet MiG when a Cuban defector flew one to Florida. The story goes that the USAF was most interested in how it performed compared to the F15. So they called in their best pilot to take it up for a spin - none other than Chuck Yeagar.

So with all the USAF brass watching, Yeager took the MiG up while some other hotshot Air Force pilots followed him in F15s. After some test maneuvers to get a feel for how the MiG handled, they engaged in some mock dogfights. The MiG spanked the F15s. The USAF brass were horrified. If the Soviet's new MiG could defeat the F15 so easily, the U.S. needed to completely overhaul its global air defense strategy.

Anxious to find out what gave the MiG the advantage, when Yeager landed they immediately asked him how it flew. "Eh, it's OK. But ours are better," he replied. What?!? The MiG had just spanked a bunch of F15s. How could Yeager say that it was just OK and the F15 was better?

So Yeager had everyone fly up again, this time with another pilot flying the MiG and Yeager flying an F15. And Yeager proceeded to spank the MiG...


RE: Fight!
By maven81 on 1/7/2011 8:59:30 AM , Rating: 2
The latest and greatest MiG of the 70s would have been a MiG 23 so this story is definitely hogwash. But it does have a great point.


RE: Fight!
By metaltoiletry on 1/7/2011 11:39:10 AM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't it have been a Mig 25? Since those were much better at air-to-air I assume?


RE: Fight!
By rcc on 1/7/2011 1:00:41 PM , Rating: 2
the 25 was a straight line interceptor. Very fast, but needed a small country to turn around in. But there are documented cases of it outrunning heat seeking missiles over Israel in the... 70s I think it was.


RE: Fight!
By maven81 on 1/7/2011 1:08:31 PM , Rating: 2
The MiG 25 is not a fighter, it's a high altitude high speed interceptor. (Built because they feared the XB-70 would become operational). I can't remember the numbers off the top of my head, but the airframe could not handle more then about 6Gs or so. It was built with one primary thing in mind, speed. So you could never really compare it to an F-15. The MiG 23 on the other hand was the multipurpose fighter at the time. An F15 class fighter didn't enter service until the 80s (the MiG-29 and Su-27).

By the way, to get this back on topic, I have no idea why the Russians are helping the Chinese. While China's threat to us is arguable, China's threat to Russia is much greater, since for one they actually border eachother and better yet fought an actual border skirmish in the 1960s.


RE: Fight!
By Solandri on 1/7/2011 1:51:08 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I have no idea why the Russians are helping the Chinese. While China's threat to us is arguable, China's threat to Russia is much greater, since for one they actually border eachother and better yet fought an actual border skirmish in the 1960s.

Money. I'm trying to find the article I read on this but I can't. It was an interview with someone in the Russian government regarding this. Basically, he said that they knew that by selling planes to China, China would eventually be able to reverse-engineer their own planes. But they badly needed the money at the time, and they did not expect China to reverse-engineer the planes so quickly.

The article was on the danger of Western companies partnering with Chinese companies for short-term profit, when it's clear that long-term are just doing it to gain access to technology so they can build things themselves. Their work with German and Japanese companies to develop their high-speed trains was the other major centerpiece of the article. The Chinese knew nothing about building high-speed trains, invited foreign companies to bid on helping them build a high-speed rail system, awarded contracts, had them partner with Chinese companies to make a few prototypes, then kicked them out and announced they were going to build everything themselves.


RE: Fight!
By maven81 on 1/7/2011 2:59:35 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting, thanks for the info. This kind of greed will definitely be someone's undoing. I know that in the past the soviets created what I think they called "monkey" versions of the hardware, less capability, inferior avionics etc. In the 90s there was a big scandal when a contractor sold an actual top of the line radar system instead of the dumbed down version. But I guess these days money trumps everything.


RE: Fight!
By ekv on 1/7/2011 7:09:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
China's threat to Russia is much greater, since for one they actually border each other
This has been my impression too, for the following reason. China's One-Child rule has meant that girls are NOT favored, i.e. girls are aborted. This means that the generation growing up in China now has a severe shortage of girls. There are going to be on the order of 100 million Chinese guys looking for mates ... and Russia might look attractive, being on the border. [Of course, most Russian women are ugly to me, in comparison to Chinese or Korean. But if you've got that many desperate guys...]


RE: Fight!
By Danish1 on 1/8/2011 4:48:02 PM , Rating: 2
urban legend.


RE: Fight!
By Danish1 on 1/8/2011 4:52:50 PM , Rating: 2
The plane you are talking about was a MiG-25 btw and the american brass feared its capabilities until they got their hands on one and relized it's not a fighter but a very fast, very high flying missile platform that was built to intercept bombers and recon planes.


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