China flexes muscle with new Chinese stealth fighter
China’s ascendancy as the world’s major economic power has made some people nervous. According to the New York Times, a bit of patriotic saber-rattling in the form of a new Chinese stealth fighter won’t help these people sleep easier. The fifth generation stealth fighter jet labeled J-20 has some wondering about the stealth fighter Chinese status — whether it’s ready to fly.
Chinese stealth fighter and fears of conquest
The Chinese stealth fighter better known as the J-20 is reportedly China’s first radar-evading stealth fighter jet. While international media reports and official reports from China vary greatly, it is believed that that the J-20 was runway tested at a China airbase on Wednesday and will be flight tested Thursday afternoon. China’s state-run media claims that this is all conjecture, however.
Blurry photos indicate stealth fighter Chinese status
Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine initially ran an article about the J-20 on Monday. Mostly indistinct photographs showed what was allegedly the Chinese stealth fighter on the tarmac of an airfield near Chengdu. Similar photos have appeared on various blogs, dating back to mid-December, reports the New York Times.
According to Kanwa Defense Weekly editor Andrei Chang, “authoritative” word has been given that the Chinese stealth fighter J-20 will make its first official flight, if weather permits. Furthermore, news of the stealth fighter Chinese status has been intentionally leaked in order to drum up interest and build a swell of nationalism within China. Yet as Chang puts it, perhaps the most important reason for the Chinese stealth fighter announcement is to give U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates something to think about when he visits Beijing this Sunday.
“They want to show the U.S., show Mr. Gates, their muscle,” said Chang.
China’s stealth fighter jet is behind the curve, some say
Various international news reports state that the J-20 Chinese stealth fighter is “well behind” Russia’s T-50 stealth fighter jet and the U.S.-made F-22 and F-35, in both technological sophistication and ability to avoid radar. Experts who have analyzed the sketchy photographic evidence believe the J-20 will be capable of launching cruise missiles and be eligible for mid-air refueling. Estimates are that the stealth fighter Chinese status needs 10 to 15 years before it will catch up to U.S. and Russian stealth fighter jets.