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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 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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