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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 zmatt on 1/7/2011 3:01:50 PM , Rating: 2
You sir don't understand how aircraft work. just because one superficially resembles another does not imply that they are anything alike. That's like claiming a learjet is similar to a gulfstream 550. Only the Gulfstream is bigger and cost much more, they are essentially the same right? No. That Chinese prototype is much larger than the F-22. So large that it's role as an air superiority fighter is very much in doubt. If we assume that it uses internal weapons bay like the F-22 then it would be a fair assessment to either consider it a fighter/bomber or an interceptor. Fighter bombers have the capability to carry ground munitions such as bombs which are not as compact as air to air missiles, and interceptors tend to be large for the fuel capacity and powerful engines. Neither have a primary role in air superiority and would not be a very good match against a dedicated air superiority fighter.


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