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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: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By mellomonk on 1/11/2011 4:51:27 PM , Rating: 2
Negative. I don't even think you could find many in the Pentagon who feel the need for 400 additional air superiority fighters at that cost. The world is a far different place then when the F-22 was proposed, designed, and built.

If jobs are the issue, you would employee considerably more in any number of defense as well non-defense projects with the funds needed to restart and build F-22. $150 million + a pop fighters based on 20 year old concepts and designs do not create that many jobs, especially considering the costs of our current conflicts and standing defense forces.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By roykahn on 1/12/2011 6:48:16 AM , Rating: 1
The world is a far different place then when the F-22 was proposed, designed, and built.

Not entirely. I believe the US military budget has progressively increased since the end of the cold war, so you can't pretend that military spending is correlated to threats to US military dominance.

Government and military leaders want their public to think that there is a contstant threat to the safety of its country. That will allow them to stay in power and to maintain its military and economic stranglehold on other countries.

The argument about creating jobs is absurd. Instead of creating jobs that help mankind, like in social services and environmentalism, it somehow seems preferable to create weapons and continue terrorising foreign countries.

considering the costs of our current conflicts

Replace the world conflicts with invasions and you'd be closer to the truth. The world "conflict" is what an aggressor uses to describe its military activities. You shouldn't repeat such propoganda tools yourself.

By TerranMagistrate on 1/12/2011 10:18:21 AM , Rating: 2
What better way to help mankind than maintaining peace through overwhelming force used as a deterrent.

By roykahn on 1/12/2011 6:12:06 PM , Rating: 1
I hope you're being sarcastic there :-P There is no peace when the US gets involved in another country. But I guess it depends what your definition of peace is. US leaders prefer to use the term "stability", like "wer'e seeking to create stability in country X". There's a key difference. You can create stability by overthrowing a democratically elected government and/or by invading that country with military force. It sure as hell doesn't result in peace, but it sure does result in economic conditions that are ripe for US investors.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By Eris23007 on 1/12/2011 1:52:59 PM , Rating: 4
Absolutely incorrect. The defense budget shrank CONSIDERABLY after the end of the cold war (this was termed the "peace dividend") and only started increasing after 9/11.


Note that, looking forward, budgets are slated to go back down, except for interest on the debt created by defense spending (though I would like to better understand how they calculate that number).

It has been fairly convincingly argued that the so-called "peace dividend" is part of the reason we are spending so much more now - we stopped spending on increasing / modernizing defense capabilities, and when you do that sort of thing it gets far more expensive to restart later due to re-establishing the capabilities that have been allowed to diminish / expire.

RE: Keep those F-22A assembly lines running
By roykahn on 1/12/2011 6:03:06 PM , Rating: 2
I stand corrected. However, I don't see how you can say it shrank "considerably". The end of the cold war and the number one perceived threat to US world dominance having been removed should have resulted in a much larger drop. Other excuses were given to keep military spending high. I think it was the technological advancements of third world countries or some such nonsense.

Your choice of words are misleading. You say that "we stopped spending on increasing defence capabilities". A small decrease in the huge annual military budget isn't really a change in priorities. And the word "defence" implies that military spending is needed to keep the US safe from hostile attackers. The US has been responsible for most attacks by a foreign force which had little, if any, relation to "defence".

By Mudhen6 on 1/13/2011 12:00:59 AM , Rating: 2
You're oversimplifying things and understating the decrease in spending - the US government can't simply just "stop" spending. Military programs are in progress all the time. You can't just cancel them because the Soviet Union crumbled overnight - you'd be left with a lot of unemployed and pissed off people.

In fact, if anything, part of the reason why spending remains high is that with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, military programs in progress at the time (such as the F-22) had their development stretched - which saved in short-term costs but in the long-run caused program expenses to balloon out of proportion.

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