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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 stlrenegade on 1/7/2011 12:44:15 PM , Rating: 4
China also has a huge amount of raw resources, plus they hold the US by the balls as far as debt goes.

China holds about 21% of our debt. Not ball-grabbing to me.

RE: Interceptor
By Harinezumi on 1/7/2011 1:15:45 PM , Rating: 2
Possession of 21% of our debt presents them our balls on a silver platter.

RE: Interceptor
By Laereom on 1/7/2011 8:57:21 PM , Rating: 2
Owe the bank a million dollars, and the bank owns you.

Owe the bank a billion dollars, and you own the bank.

For the next several years at least, China has a lot more to lose from pulling that trigger than we do. Of course, how things develop in those years is anyone's guess...

RE: Interceptor
By lyeoh on 1/13/2011 1:07:45 PM , Rating: 1
Not quite the same thing.

The US owes China trillions payable in US dollars. Guess who in the world has the right to create as much US dollars as they deem necessary?

The US has already created trillions since 2008 (lending/borrowing money that doesn't exist yet is still the same thing as creating). Nobody seems to care as long as you give it a fancy name like "Quantitative Easing". It's the Petrodollar after all.

So if China insists, the US can repay. But China knows if they do it wrong, what they get would be worth less or even worthless.

RE: Interceptor
By eskimospy on 1/8/2011 11:09:09 AM , Rating: 2
China does not own 21% of our debt, it's more like about 10-12%.

RE: Interceptor
By cruisin3style on 1/8/2011 2:00:41 PM , Rating: 2
Well, China holds ~21% of our debt that is held by foreign countries. They have slightly more than Japan according to official Treasury numbers.

But as far as total debt goes, China holds about 6.5%

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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