Chinese have been showing off their military prowess lately. The
communist nation has trotted out its first stealth aircraft dubbed the J-20. To
many observers, the aircraft looks similar to the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor,
but the J-20 is a larger aircraft that appears to be more appropriate for a
mixed role fighter and ground attack mission than a pure air superiority
fighter like the Raptor.
Many have speculated on how far along the Chinese are in getting the aircraft
into its Air Force fleet. Some predictions have put the aircraft as far out as
nine years from entering into service. However, some in the U.S. government
have already conceded that China is further ahead than they originally thought.
The J-20 has already had its maiden flight.
However, the stealth technology China uses in the J-20 is the subject of debate
and some think that the technology China is using may have come from American
aircraft. Specifically, many think that the some of the technology that China
is using in the J-20 came from an Air Force F-117 that was shot
down and crashed in Serbia in 1999. The aircraft was the first of the stealth
fighters to have even been hit by enemy fire.
The aircraft was hit on March 27, 1999 and the Pentagon chocked the downing of
the aircraft up to sheer luck and clever tactics. The pilot of the aircraft
ejected safely and was rescued. The aircraft crashed over a wide area of
farmland in the area and apparently, parts from the fighter were collected by
local farmers as souvenirs.
The AP quotes Adm. Davor
Domazet-Loso, the Croatian military chief of staff during the operations in Kosovo,
"At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents
crisscrossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the
plane from local farmers."
A Serb military official did confirm that some of the parts of the downed F-117
did end up in the hands of foreign military attaches. Of particular interest to
the foreign military forces according to repots was the coating the F-117 used
to absorb radiation to prevent the aircraft from bouncing back radar signals.
Parts of the F117 are in a Serbian aviation museum today. The deputy director
of the museum, Zoran Milicevic said, "I don't know what happened to the
rest of the plane. A lot of delegations visited us in the past, including the
Chinese, Russians and Americans ... but no one showed any interest in taking
any part of the jet."
The Chinese were known to keep an intelligence post in the embassy in Belgrade
during the Kosovo war. Alexander Neill, head of Asia security program at the
Royal United Services institute in London, said, "What that means is that
the Serbs and Chinese would have been sharing their intelligence. It's very likely
that they shared the technology they recovered from the F-117, and it's very
plausible that elements of the F-117 got to China."