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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 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.

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