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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 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.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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