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Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Looks like the Chinese have themselves a stealth fighter

Uh oh!

From FoxNews -- BEIJING – The first clear pictures of what appears to be a Chinese stealth fighter prototype have been published online, highlighting China's military buildup just days before U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates heads to Beijing to try to repair defense ties.

The photographs, published on several unofficial Chinese and foreign defense-related websites, appear to show a J-20 prototype making a high-speed taxi test—usually one of the last steps before an aircraft makes its first flight—according to experts on aviation and China's military.

Ok Bill and David, or any other regular readers who are familiar with military matters, is this for real? Why does the Chinese stealth fighter look exactly like ours? Did they steal the F-22 technology like they do with everything else, or is this, as the article supposes, a mock up designed to scare everybody?


Bill said...

The folks at Aviation Week's blog mostly seem to think it's real. The Chinese are serious about becoming the "big dog" in Asia and the Western Pacific, and are getting more and more open about it.

This shows, in my opinion, just how Secretary of Defense Gates has bet our future with his killing of the F-22 far short of the requirement. 187 Raptors when the requirement was at least twice that many is so short sighted it may be studied for decades - hopefully not by Chinese military historians analyzing their victory.

For anybody that doesn't know, the F-35 program is having serious problems and is way late. Our F-16's (newest of them are over 15 years old) will either have to be retired or expensively life extended. The last F-22 is already in production and restarting the line will be horribly expensive now that we've put so many 2nd and 3rd tier suppliers out of business.

Of course the Russians, who will sell to anybody, already have a 5th Generation stealth fighter in development even farther along than the ChiComs.

Very worrying, as far as I'm concerned.

Ed said...

Now an airplane is only as good as its pilot and I doubt seriously if the Chinese long-zippers are any good but, combine this stealth platform with their first carrier coming online soon, and their newly developed anti-carrier cruise missile designed specifically to intimidate the US Navy, and you have a serious shift in Pacific rim hegemony. Color me intimidated.

Bill said...


That's a very long link to a good analysis of a possible China/USA confrontation.

David said...

Since the F-22 has been in development practically my whole career it is possible, even likely, China has gained access to the design, etc.

I watch minty-fresh F-22s take off almost everyday. They are not even painted yet but to me they are obsolete (or should be) as their development was mired in politics. The result: we field stale aircraft and too few of them.

Bill said...

The problem with the F-22 is that it, unlike nearly every other US fighter in recent decades, was aborted in the "A" model. For comparison, and just considering "teen series" we developed the F-14 to the "D" model "Bombcat", the F-15 to the "E" model Strike Eagle, the F-16 to the "C/D" Block 50/52 models in the US service and "E/F" Block 60 models for export. We have developed the F-18 into what is an almost entirely new aircraft, the F/A-18 E/F "Super Hornet."

The point is that these are not just different letters and/or Blocks. They are vastly upgraded and more capable aircraft that the respective "A" models.

The F-22, in sad comparison, is being prematurely killed for reasons beyond my comprehension. What is now the most dominate air superiority fighter on earth will never evolve. There is talk of a "6th generation fighter" but given the incredible time it takes our procurement system to do anything, we're talking mid-2020's at the earliest. Meanwhile, the 186 F-22's and however many F-35's we buy will face who knows what.

Maybe we have some super-secret program that Assange hasn't outed, I hope so.

ed said...

Maybe the Pentagon guys and the politicians think that the next major war will be fought without manned airplanes. In the meantime, the fleet we have can tamp down pretty much any uprising we find displeasing.

The problem is like that article says, if China decides to challenge us regarding Taiwan, their sheer numbers can overwhelm us because we'll have to project ours while theirs will be right there.

I don't know, is manned dog-fighting really a military priority any more? Why not just destroy airfields with GPS-guided weapons and effectively ground the opposition AF? I mean, how many $50million/copy fighters can we afford to build?

Bill said...

Americans have come to think dominance of the air is some sort of state of natural order for us. In case you don't know, the last time American soldiers came under air attack was the Korean War, almost 60 years ago. Our way of war depends on air dominance - unmanned aircraft for recon and attack, large defenseless aircraft for many tasks including cargo, observation, support.

Maybe someday unmanned aircraft can achieve air dominance, but we're not close to that yet. I think we need manned air superiority fighters for the next 20 years at least.

ed said...

But like the article points out, even with a kill ratio of 6:1, China can overwhelm us with sheer numbers of minimally-armed Mig-21's and 23's, that have to be taken seriously as a threat and shot down. It's a numbers game at that point and we lose regardless of how dominant our long zippers are.

Having debated this point for a day or two, I cannot imagine a scenario in which China elects to seriously threaten Taiwan militarily such that we are drawn into a major conflict. If anything, China will attack us in the cyber arena. Even still, their fate is inextricably connected to ours at this point since they hold an irrational amount of our debt.

David said...

I just opted for an American-made guitar over the Chinese offering. The one Chinese guitar I own is for sale and will likely be in someone else's hands by Saturday.

ed said...

Heh heh....that'll show 'em, Dave.

David said...

Said goodbye to my Chinese guitar today.