November 04, 2016

China will accelerate J20 stealth fighter development and production

China's Air Force chief said development of the J-20 fighter jet would be sped up, in an apparent bid to quell speculation the domestic aircraft was falling behind its production schedule.

"Of course I'm satisfied," General Ma Xiaotian said when asked about the performance of the J-20 after its brief public debut at the opening of Airshow China in Zhuhai in Guangdong on Tuesday.

"We are not considering putting [the J-20] on the global market," he said.



A military insider said Ma's comments could be a way to pressure the manufacturer, Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, to deliver sooner. Japan already has F-35s built by Lockheed Martin, while South Korea expects to deploy its first batch of F-35s in 2018.

At the previous Zhuhai air show in 2014, Beijing unveiled the Shenyang J-31, another stealth fighter under development, but with the intention of attracting foreign buyers.

State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China released the J-31's specifications last year, hoping to compete with the F-35 in the global weapons market.

The J-20 and J-31 belong to China's "fourth generation" of aircraft and should meet at least four requirements - including stealth technology, supersonic cruising speed, highly integrated avionics, and electronic fire-control systems.

Justin Bronk, a Research Fellow specializing in combat airpower at the Royal United Services Institute, said the display left many questions unanswered.

On paper, the J-20 represents a "big leap forward in terms of the capabilities of the PLA (People's Liberation Army) have on scene," said Bronk.

Compared to the US's current fifth-generation fighter jets, the F-22 and the F-35, the J-20 has "longer range, more internal fuel capacity, and larger internal weapons capability," said Bronk.

This combination of factors presents a real risk to US forces in the Pacific. Long range, capable strike fighters like the J-20 put US "AWACS [airborne warning and control system], refuelling tankers, and forward bases at risk much more than current Types if flying in relatively large
numbers "should any kind of kinetic conflict flare up in the Pacific, said Bronk.

However, US Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein told Breaking Defense he was not overly troubled by the new Chinese jet.

"When I hear about F-35 vs. J-20, it's almost an irrelevant comparison," Goldfein said in August.

One-on-one fighting scenarios or feature-for-feature comparisons do not capture the real threat of the J-20.

Long range stealth fighters, if fielded in large numbers along with older Chinese aircraft, surface-to-air missile batteries, radar outposts, missiles, and electronic warfare units present another wrinkle in an already complicated and fraught operating envelope for US and allied forces in The Pacific.

So while China's new "impressive low-observable heavy strike" fighters could change the balance of power in the Pacific, whether or not they can field the planes in significantly large numbers at any time in the near future remains an open question.

China and Russia both lag behind the USA in jet engine technology. China is behind the Russians in jet engines. China is buying some SU35 gen 4.5 fighters so that can copy and catch up to the latest Russian jet engine technology. Successfully copying the Russian jet engines and using the learnings to improve advanced engine programs








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