China completes stealth fighter prototype

Jan 05, 2011 by Sebastien Blanc
Soldiers are seen walking under a Chinese national flag in Shanghai. China appears to have completed a prototype of its first known stealth fighter, reports said Wednesday, highlighting Beijing's military modernisation days ahead of a visit by the US defence secretary.

China appears to have completed a prototype of its first stealth fighter, highlighting Beijing's military modernisation drive, but experts said Wednesday the jet will not be operational for years to come.

Photographs published online and Chinese military sources cited by the Japanese media indicate a test model of the J-20 fighter has been finished, with taxi tests carried out last week at an airfield in southwestern China.

The news comes just days before a visit to Beijing by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who will seek to mend military ties cut off a year ago by China when Washington sold billions of dollars in arms to its rival Taiwan.

Experts say the J-20 will eventually rival the US Air Force's F-22, the world's only fully operational next-generation stealth fighter jet -- but not any time soon.

The J-20 "will become fully competitive with the F-22, in capability and perhaps in numbers, around the end of this decade," Rick Fisher, an expert on the Chinese military at the International Assessment and Strategy Centre, a US think tank, told AFP.

Dennis Blasko, an expert on the People's Liberation Army -- the world's largest military force -- said the timeline for development of the jet was "probably considerably longer than what most outside observers would estimate".

China plans to begin test flights of the J-20 as soon as this month, with plans to deploy the jet as early as 2017, Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper said, quoting Chinese military sources.

The fighter will be equipped with large missiles and could reach the island of Guam, a US territory in the western Pacific, with aerial refuelling, although it would take 10 to 15 more years to develop technology on a par with that of the US F-22, it said.

In late 2009, the deputy head of China's air force, General He Weirong, said the country's stealth fighter would be operational sometime between 2017 and 2019, reports said.

Officials at China's defence ministry declined immediate comment when contacted by AFP about the reports.

Western military experts expressed doubts over how far the PLA had progressed with the J-20 programme.

"I have yet to see proof of a test flight. And testing for a prototype can take quite some time before production begins," Blasko said.

Graphic on the key design characteristics of stealth fighter aircraft built to avoid radar detection

Other than the United States and China, only a handful of countries are working on so-called next-generation stealth fighters.

In January 2010, Russia unveiled a new aircraft touted as a rival to the US jet, developed by Sukhoi. According to Fisher, Japan has a homegrown programme, while India is cooperating with Russia.

The news about the J-20 comes at a key moment in Sino-US relations, with Gates due in Beijing on Sunday and Chinese President Hu Jintao to visit Washington later this month.

US military officials and strategists see Beijing as a potential threat to Washington's once unrivalled dominance of the Pacific. Ahead of the visit by Gates, contacts had only resumed at a technical level.

Fisher indeed predicted that the J-20 could become a "serious threat to US air superiority in Asia before the end of the decade".

China's massive annual military spending also has aroused concern among its neighbours. Japan last month labelled Beijing's military build-up a global "concern", citing its increased assertiveness in the East and South China Seas.

China has repeatedly insisted its military growth does not pose any threat.

Defence Minister Liang Guanglie said last week that China was currently beefing up its navy, air force and strategic missile forces, while decreasing its ground forces.

According to defence industry publication Aviation Week, the J-20 is larger than observers expected -- suggesting a long-range capacity and the ability to carry heavy weapons loads.

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apex01
1 / 5 (5) Jan 05, 2011
sweet! and we do things like downsizing our nuclear arsenal because were only worried about Russia...
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Jan 05, 2011
Experts say the J-20 will eventually rival the US Air Force's F-22, the world's only fully operational next-generation stealth fighter jet -- but not any time soon.


Any "expert" that said that ought to be ostracized from the field and branded a hopeless moron. Unless of course by "any time soon" they meant 60 years...
Quantum_Conundrum
1.7 / 5 (3) Jan 05, 2011
It should be easy enough for any large nation to replicate our stealth technology based on all of the freely published video we have given them on how to do it.

However, our ships are equipped with lasers and rail guns now, and we have by far the most advanced radar and spy satellite netowork.

In any case, the world wouldn't want to see any war between any two of the U.S., Russia, or China. The biggest advantages we have are, as always, the oceans for positional advantage. We also have a significant defensive advantages due to the lasers and rail guns we are developing and deploying, we can hopefully shoot down most of their missiles.

China out mans us 5 to 1. Whenever they do start to equal our tech the only equalizer we'll have is WMD...
GSwift7
5 / 5 (3) Jan 05, 2011
I don't think equal is equal in this case. Sure if you only look at radar cross section, max range, cruise speed, weapon load, etc. then the J20 might equal the F22. The F22 is kinda old technology already, and the JSF is being deployed as we speak. The Chinese may have a stealth fighter, but we'll be fielding a majorly stealth airforce, navy and marine corps in the near future. There's a big difference between having one aircraft and having all your attack aircraft be stealth. Is the J20 carrier capable? Plus we have 20 years of stealth combat experience, and unmanned stealth as well. Add to that the electronic integration of all our aircraft as a force multiplier and the J20 isn't as equal as equal may seem. It may damage potential sales of the f22 and JSF to foreign customers, but I doubt that as well. Look what the F15 did to the 'equal' Russian jets it flew against in Isreal's war. 100-0 kill ratio, I think?
baudrunner
2.5 / 5 (4) Jan 05, 2011
I think it premature to be too condascending of a nation which was able to reverse engineer one of the world's fastest supercomputers decades ago. Underestimating them landed America in trouble in Vietnam. There is no reason to assume that China is incapable of taking over the lead as the world's most technologically advanced superpower some day. The JSF is the most advanced tactical fighter out there, and JSF means "Joint Strike Fighter", as in a united technical front, sounds almost like communism to me. It seems to work.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (2) Jan 05, 2011
@ baudrunner:

I assume you are from Europe or Asia, and that the part where you say that JSF implies communism was a joke? If you were serious about the communism comment then the "joint" in the JSF is probably what you are smoking.

@ QC: China can't attack us. We owe them too much money. Which makes the idea that they could have stolen tech from us kinda funny. They are paying for it, after all. That was a joke.
Modernmystic
5 / 5 (2) Jan 05, 2011
100-0 kill ratio, I think?


If I'm not mistaken, and I may be, I think the total operational history of the F-15 is 1049 air victory's and ZERO losses in combat.

Now do a google for the F-15 vs. the F-22 combat exercises :-)
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) Jan 05, 2011
F-15 is 1049 air victory's and ZERO losses in combat.

Now do a google for the F-15 vs. the F-22 combat exercises :-)


Yeah, doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? The J20 may look equal on paper, like the Mig29 and SU27 look equal to the F15 on paper, but in the real world we Americans have proven ourselves to be THE experts at blowing the ____ out of stuff.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (1) Jan 05, 2011
Nobody has anything like our toys.

Take the B2 as an example. The flight crew can spend the weekend at home in Missouri and sleep in bed with their wives. Then drive to Whiteman on Monday morning and fly directly to Afghanistan to blow those guys back to the stone age. If you live in Kansas City, you can see them leaving every couple days. Then they fly back home and get to sleep in their own beds again, just like a commercial pilot, only without the layover time at the destination. Now that's cool.

BTW, yes 1000-0 is right for the F15 overall. 100-0 was just that Isreali war. I think those 100 kills were in just a few days.
dirk_bruere
5 / 5 (1) Jan 05, 2011
Just the interest on the US debts China holds is enough to pay its entire military budget.
zbarlici
not rated yet Jan 06, 2011
how right dirk is. You can have all the experience in the world and the most advanced toys if you don`t have the $$ to buy and support. What`s the US gonna do? It`s gonna pull money from social services programs to fund the essential airforce, navy, & army. There will be civil unrest due to social services cutbacks. Meanwhile, sure, China has their own problems with overpopulation still, but its peoples will bear with it because their country moves up the food chain on the international scale.
plasticpower
1 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2011
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this, but the J20 is a direct CLONE of the Su-27 Russian jet. It's not a new jet either. Fact is, the J20 uses Russian engines, because that's the only thing the Chinese haven't been able to reliably re-engineer. And the stealth technology, also Russian based. They signed a contract with Russia to build Su-27 clones back in the 90's, but they turned around and reverse engineered the Russian tech. Just like they did with their space capsule they used to launch humans into space.
Google it "china russia fighter jet clone"
GSwift7
not rated yet Jan 06, 2011
It may not matter anyway. When inflation catches up with them they won't be able to afford stealth jets. Some types of food have risen 1000% in price recently in China according to NPR news this morning. The analyst they had on the radio said the Chinese economy is a ticking time bomb. I hope they don't start calling us in on our loans. :(

As to the J-20 being an SU-27 clone, that's not accurate as far as I can tell. The Chinese extensively use Russian made engines, and the J-20 is suspected to use one, but that's not confirmed. The J-20 resembles the F-22 more than it does the SU-27. Try to google the following and select the second thing that comes up:

Chinese J-20 fighter to use Russian engines?
GSwift7
5 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2011
One more thing about the J-20:

If you look at the photographs I've seen on the internet which are supposed to be the J-20, it certainly doesn't look stealth to me. Maybe low observable but certainly not in the same club with the F-22. Notice the standard landing gear doors in stead of the saw-tooth cut and the exposed, standard exhaust baffles. That engine exhaust configuration will show up like a beacon on both radar and thermal. The F-22 is radically different than that. The J-20 looks much more like a 4G than a 5G plane. Trust the media to sensationalize everything. lol, I just looked. The wiki page about 4G fighters even lists the J-20. This isn't anything to compare to an F-22.
Quantum_Conundrum
5 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2011
100-0 kill ratio, I think?


If I'm not mistaken, and I may be, I think the total operational history of the F-15 is 1049 air victory's and ZERO losses in combat.

Now do a google for the F-15 vs. the F-22 combat exercises :-)


241 simulated kills vs 2 simulated losses...
GSwift7
not rated yet Jan 06, 2011
Yeah, there's several exercises with similar results to that. One of them had a similar ratio, despite the fact that the red force was allowed to 'respawn' their losses up to four times, while the F-22 blue force was not allowed any respawns. The downside of the F22 is that it's not carrier based. The F35 will probably be a bigger deal than the F22 since it replaces older planes than the F22 did, and it's going to be so much more numerous. The F35 also has a much more advanced electronics package. They are trying to station a wing of F35 here in SC, but local people are fighting it because of noise issues. Oh well.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 06, 2011
sweet! and we do things like downsizing our nuclear arsenal because were only worried about Russia...
If anyone lights off a nuke we're all fucked, us and them. Whether we have nukes to send back or not is of no consequence.

Realistically it would be worse to be the victor of a nuclear war because now you need to figure out how to survive.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2011
Besides that, aren't the nukes being downsized typically the older, more out of date varieties? From what I've read, the major advantage of getting the Russians to reduce their nukes is that they can dismantle the oldest ones which are sometimes dangerously in need of maintenance. Most people don't realize that the US Airforce actually has been helping Russia maintain their nuclear weapons for the past couple decades. We give money and technical help to keep their missiles up to safe working conditions. We also fund the majority of the cost to disarm and dispose when Russia agrees to a reduction. Nobody really wants the old warheads to fall into the hands of terrorists on the black market, and nobody wants weapons under the control of former soviet states either.

Besides, the newer weapons can do so much more with so much less. A single B2 can do the work of several cold war era ICBM's with thier MIRV's. I wonder how many of the young people who post here have never heard of MIRV.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2011
sweet! and we do things like downsizing our nuclear arsenal because were only worried about Russia...
If anyone lights off a nuke we're all fucked, us and them. Whether we have nukes to send back or not is of no consequence.

Realistically it would be worse to be the victor of a nuclear war because now you need to figure out how to survive.


SH, someone someday is probably going to light off a nuke....

Therefore, in my opinion, there are only two kinds of defense. Some form of interception, which of course only works against missiles so it has flaws. The other would be some form of infrastructure preservation so that the "learning how to survive" and creeping back out of the radioactive Dark Age takes decades instead of centuries. The flaw with the latter strategy is self evident.

So in essence, regardless, you're correct we're ****ed.
frajo
5 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2011
someone someday is probably going to light off a nuke
Someone already did it. Twice.
Justsayin
5 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2011
Sounds like the military industrial complex is attempting to prevent cuts in the U.S. military.
RodRico
not rated yet Jan 08, 2011
Whatever it's failings, the Chinese stealth fighter will likely get better soon thanks to our own poor security. Google "Computer Spies Breach Fighter-Jet Project." F-35, WikiLeaks, etc... when will we get our security in order ?
Eric_B
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2011
Yeah, no kidding Rod.

I wouldn't bet against the Chinese if they pick a fight with the US when they feel they are ready.

MAD will be the only deterrent to Americans waking up to drive through green tea and egg mooshu at McDongWong's.

Taiwan and the rest of Indochina and most of Africa are going to be owned by China within 50 years.
Tank
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2011
I work with the Chinese industry and technology. It is easy for them to buy and replicate others technology, but they are generations away from being able to run it. They took too many short cuts in their growth.

Best I can describe what I see is 1.2 billion people with the mentality that if they don't make it better someone will replace them. When you have every person working on your project trying to better it, they end up bettering it into the ground.

China's economy and society will crash long before they manage to establish real skill in technology. I have seen engineers salaries, in the past 2 years, go from $2-$3k per year to $10-$15k with no indication of stopping. Turn over is astronomical as someone can leave an get a major bump in pay. Just a matter of time as to when the labor prices are no longer beneficial and the economy takes a nose dive.
frajo
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2011
I work with the Chinese industry and technology.
Who does not?
They took too many short cuts in their growth.
Economical or cultural? You mean the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution should have gone on a little longer? And they should have hesitated to establish their Special Economic Zones in Guangdong?
Best I can describe what I see is 1.2 billion people with the mentality that if they don't make it better someone will replace them.
Congratulations. Now just don't let you be infected with that mentality.
China's economy and society will crash long before they manage to establish real skill in technology.
Exactly. Chang'e2's voyage around the moon does not prove any _real_ skills - it's just for show, you know.
Modernmystic
5 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2011
Yeah, no kidding Rod.

I wouldn't bet against the Chinese if they pick a fight with the US when they feel they are ready.


Spoken like someone who has done less than adequate research on the subject. Millions in cannon fodder no longer wins wars. The Chinese are at least 35-40 years behind us in military technology. They might as well pick a fight with aliens...
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2011
Spoken like someone who has done less than adequate research on the subject. Millions in cannon fodder no longer wins wars. The Chinese are at least 35-40 years behind us in military technology. They might as well pick a fight with aliens...
MM is completely correct. It's amazing what technology I know we have and have used that the public still hasn't seen in a Jane's catalogue. Then there's the stuff they wouldn't tell us about, and that was over 12 years ago.

Also, when it comes to Russian nuclear weapons, over 80% of them were fake or unfueled rockets. The scariest component of Russian technology were the functional briefcase nukes they had. The main problem with them was they weigh about 300 lbs a piece. So theuy aren't exactly stealthy, but they're functional. From what I understand we have 238 of the known 240 in controlled hands. The two loose ones are the scary piece.
Modernmystic
not rated yet Jan 09, 2011
The main problem with them was they weigh about 300 lbs a piece. So theuy aren't exactly stealthy, but they're functional. From what I understand we have 238 of the known 240 in controlled hands. The two loose ones are the scary piece.


Out of curiosity SH, do you know what the yields are on those suitcase nukes?
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2011
Out of curiosity SH, do you know what the yields are on those suitcase nukes?
Largest one the US built was 6 kiloton. The Russians turned over very little documentation on the devices, but as far as we could tell they were fractional kt devices. around 190 tons of TNT if I'm recalling correctly. Highest theoretical deisgn specs indicated the possibility of 2kt.
Modernmystic
5 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2011
Out of curiosity SH, do you know what the yields are on those suitcase nukes?
Largest one the US built was 6 kiloton. The Russians turned over very little documentation on the devices, but as far as we could tell they were fractional kt devices. around 190 tons of TNT if I'm recalling correctly. Highest theoretical deisgn specs indicated the possibility of 2kt.


Thanks for the info...

That's enough to cause a hell of a lot of misery. Especially if they're placed "well".
Tank
not rated yet Jan 09, 2011
frajo
I am still looking for your point in any of this.
Who does not?

Just because you buy made in China doesn't mean you work with them. Few people work with them on a daily basis.

Economical or cultural? You mean the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution should have gone on a little longer? And they should have hesitated to establish their Special Economic Zones in Guangdong?

So, trying to use facts to support no argument. Yes I meant that the continued killing and suppression would have done wonders for their technological understanding.

Congratulations. Now just don't let you be infected with that mentality.

Pointless.

Exactly. Chang'e2's voyage around the moon does not prove any _real_ skills - it's just for show, you know.

Ah, yes because China is able to launch a satellite, they have arrived. Only 50 years late. They must be proud they can do what 50 other countries, including Malaysia and Mauritius, can do. Can they put a IPhone at 90k feet
frajo
3 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2011
I am still looking for your point in any of this.
I know. Keep looking. It's better than keeping on talking while not looking.

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