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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: Fight!
By Solandri on 1/7/2011 1:51:08 PM , Rating: 3
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.

"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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