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J-20 takes flight
Further ahead indeed...

Numerous pictures of the Chinese Chengdu J-20 Black Eagle stealth fighter have surfaced online over the last few weeks. The aircraft has been seen conducting taxi tests at the southwest China Plant 132 facility. Plant 132 is the designation for Chengdu Aircraft reports Defense News.

After government officials initially dismissed the J-20, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted recently that the Chinese "may be somewhat further along" than was previously believed. As Gates is in China for talks with the Chinese government a new report comes out that the J-20 made its first flight. The maiden flight had reportedly been set for January 7, but poor weather forced the flight to be cancelled. 

According to Chinese media, the chase aircraft on the test flight was a Chengdu J-10S Vigorous Dragon fighter. Defense News reports that the test flight will surprise some analysts who though the aircraft wasn’t ready for flight. The maiden flight of the J-20 lasted 18 minutes and was conducted on January 11.

The first flight of the aircraft may be used as a bargaining chip by Taiwan to urge the U.S. to release 66 newer F-16C/D fighters that were requested. The aircraft have been on hold since 2006 due to Chinese pressure on the U.S. to not offer more military aid to Taiwan.

Chinese Minister for National Defense Gen. Liang Guanglie said, "On that, China's position has been clear and consistent - we are against it." He also said, "Because United States arms sales to Taiwan seriously damaged China's core interests and we do not want to see that happen again, neither do we hope that the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will again and further disrupt our bilateral and military-to-military relationship."

The F-16 aircraft that Taiwan wants aren’t likely to be approved by the U.S., but upgrades for the F16A/B fighters Taiwan may get a green light.

Updated 1/12/2011 @ 7:35am EST

Video has been posted of the J-20's first flight. The taxi/liftoff occurs around the 3:06 mark.

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RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By 91TTZ on 1/11/2011 1:53:01 PM , Rating: 5
Even though this fighter has flown for the first time, that doesn't mean that it's close to being ready for deployment. The F-22 prototype (YF-22 first flew in 1990, but the design was refined for another 7 years or so until it was finalized. Then after it was finalized, it took another 8 or 9 years to go into service. Admittedly, they dragged their feet during the F-22's development, but it still takes a while from first flight to being service ready.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By tinyface on 1/11/2011 2:16:50 PM , Rating: 5
Then you have to realize a road project that takes 5 years to finish in US can be done within 6 months in China. While US is talking about where to build its first ever high speed train rail, China has already built 5000 miles of such rails (much of it was funded by the government stimulus money) and eventually will double the length in 3-5 years.
Wake up America, China is emerging as a new global power whether you like it or not.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Amiga500 on 1/11/2011 2:18:56 PM , Rating: 3
Wake up America, China is emerging as a new global power whether you like it or not.

Erm... that would be re-emerging.

For most of human history, China has been the de-facto "global" power as far as our globe is concerned.

By Calin on 1/13/2011 3:17:52 AM , Rating: 2
The first "global" power were the Huns - they terrorized both the Chinese and the European. The Chinese were a global power only in their back yard, as were the Romans, as were the Indians (south Asia Indians).

By TerranMagistrate on 1/11/2011 2:48:58 PM , Rating: 5
Albeit much of the technology running on top of those Chinese rails was stolen from Japanese and German companies.

By Scabies on 1/11/2011 4:08:26 PM , Rating: 2
which reminds me, wasn't there a story within the past two years about a server hack against either the F-22 or F-35?

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Don Tonino on 1/11/2011 4:14:47 PM , Rating: 1
Actually foreign companies have been racing to bid and win the chinese requests of tenders for high speed railways (and any other railway related bid as well, in fact) because those requests are, by all common standards, huge: think an order of magnitude more than what is common everywhere else (mostly because of the sheer size of the country and economy). Thus, the technology behind these trains is mostly if not completely foreign but most of the contracts awarded come with the condition that the vehicles must be built or assembled in factories situated in China, something that is possible only because of the size of the contracts again. This allows of course for a knowledge transfer to the chinese workforce and companies, but this transfer is allowed and accepted by the same foreign companies which can't avoid it: either accept it or pull out of a market which is extremely lucrative. Also, quite often the technology and knowledge transfer is explicitly part of the contract: China has been buying the technology in order to cover the gap between its own railway technology and the foreign one.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Calin on 1/13/2011 3:28:49 AM , Rating: 2
Just like to win American sales, European and Japanese companies must open factories in the U S of A. Toyota? Volkswagen? EADS promises for the future air tanker?
It's just the same all over the world.
And by the way, if the train company folds, or won't produce again the design sold to the Chinese, the Chinese can make it anew.
The T-54 tanks that came to Romania (were bought by Romania) came with all the blueprints for everything (thousands and thousands of pages), so that we could repair/rebuild anything (and we even produced T-54 derived tanks)

By Don Tonino on 1/14/2011 7:19:53 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, it's the same principle and is a very common business practice. There is no need to steal a technology which you can easily buy and yes, the Chinese just have bought the technology of high speed trains. Maybe they have stolen some of the technology behind their old attempts at HST, but when they realized they couldn't bridge the gap they just scrapped everything and went on a shopping spree.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By wielander on 1/11/2011 3:03:27 PM , Rating: 3
The one area the American government has never really skimped on is defense. Defense spending hasn't dropped below ~50% of our government's discretionary spending in the last 50 years.

It's harder for us to set up a high speed train line because of the way our government is set up. It's not so much a failure of bureaucracy (well not entirely), as it is a consequence of democracy. We have limited resources that have to be divided up somewhat fairly. It's hard to justify extremely expensive high speed rail lines that would only benefit a small percentage US citizens regularly. China in contrast doesn't have to care about or provide adequately for all of its citizens.

By zmatt on 1/11/2011 3:11:16 PM , Rating: 2
agreed, the reason we don't have modern, high speed rial in the US is because it is a poor fit for us. Places where it does exist, Europe and Japan mainly are much smaller and had their existing rail infrastructure destroyed by yours truly. When you think that many of our cities are far apart and themselves not equipped with a local rail system it is far more costly and less efficient than plane or car.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By SPOOFE on 1/11/2011 5:15:40 PM , Rating: 4
Then you have to realize a road project that takes 5 years to finish in US can be done within 6 months in China.

Then you have to realize that they can do this by ignoring silly little nuisances like "property rights" and "humane working conditions". They can't so glibly ignore things like, oh, "the laws of physics" or "structural engineering", facets that are far more delicate in designing aircraft versus a big bridge.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Danish1 on 1/12/2011 11:08:56 PM , Rating: 2
In China what do you think matters the most, getting the thing airborne ASAP or taking any possible measure to protect the test pilots life?

and then ask yourself the same question about the US.

Obviously the chinese don't want to lose their prototype if they can avoid it but human life just doesn't hold the same value for them as it does for us and that goes for every aspect of their society including the part that is bringing a new jet to the table.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By JackPack on 1/12/2011 11:29:05 PM , Rating: 2
The test pilot for the J-20 has been flying pre-production aircraft for over 20 years.

But that goes against your propaganda, so just ignore that fact.

By Danish1 on 1/13/2011 8:36:48 AM , Rating: 2
Grats on missing the point.

By kingius on 1/13/2011 9:36:51 AM , Rating: 1
The U.S. values human life? Come again?

How many innocents must die by U.S. soldiers, U.S. weapons and U.S. decisions before you change your mind?

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By geddarkstorm on 1/11/2011 3:42:52 PM , Rating: 2
You'd be surprised what people can do when they are motivated.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By Pneumothorax on 1/11/2011 4:09:41 PM , Rating: 4
You'd be surprised what humans will do when your "Friendly Neighborhood Execution Bus" is available within minutes from a call from your local Communist Party Official.

By MGSsancho on 1/11/2011 5:12:33 PM , Rating: 2
Those buses are only for people were were convicted of a crime in court. no need to call the bus if you simply want them dead

By kingius on 1/13/2011 9:38:29 AM , Rating: 2
It might just be that they have a national project that they are proud of and so work hard to fulfill it. Whereas here in the west... money is the only motivator.

By Calin on 1/13/2011 3:14:44 AM , Rating: 2
Reaching perfection is a very long road - while the "definitive" J-20 version might need 10 more years of research and 5 more years until production, a "good enough" J-20 might be flying by the numbers in a couple of years.
The Chinese don't have the same aversion as the US has for losing pilots - so they might be using less than perfect, existing technology. Remember that Japanese losses at Pearl Harbour were quite a bit lesser than the their losses during training. And even a loss of one plane and pilot per 100 flights would be considered insignifiant versus keeping the US Navy far away

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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