China Shows Off J-20 Stealth Jet for First Time


Another stealth jet has come out to play.

The Chinese military for the first time publicly debuted two of its Chengdu J-20 stealth jets on Tuesday at an airshow over coastal city Zhuhai.

The Chinese jet's sleek performance and air capability is said to rival U.S. F-22 Raptors as well as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is coming online next year in neighboring Pacific countries such as Japan.

The J-20, which made its first flight in 2011, is expected to have both short- and long-range air-to-air missiles. Its maximum speed has been widely debated, but is said to reach roughly 1,300 miles per hour.

Like the F-22, officials tout its radar-evading technologies. But it may not have the same stealth finesse as its fifth-generation fighter counterparts in the West.

"The J-20 is undeniably less stealthy," wrote Justin Bronk, a research fellow for combat air power and technology in the military sciences program at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

In an Op-Ed published on on Tuesday, Bronk continued, "The forward-mounted canards, poorly shielded engines and underside vertical stabilizers all limit the amount that its radar cross section -- which determines how visible the aircraft is to a radar -- can be reduced."

What the J-20 does bring, however, is a game-changing enhancement for the Chinese military on a worldwide stage -- something that could worry its Pacific neighbors.

The Chengdu Aerospace Corporation-manufactured jet will not likely be operational until 2018.

Russia has also been swift to procure and test fifth-generation-like aircraft in light of the F-35's initial operating capability, which it achieved in August.

Russia's Sukhoi T-50 lies "somewhere between the F-22 and F-35," according to Doug Barrie, senior air analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Barrie told Air Force Times in July that even though the T-50 has the sophisticated agility of a future fighter, it will not be as advanced as the most capable U.S. platforms, such as the F-22.

The Russian government hopes to receive its new fighters in 2017.

In August, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said the budding foreign platforms, such as the J-20, are an apples-to-oranges comparison with U.S. technology.

"It's about a family of systems and it's about a network, and that's what gives us an asymmetric advantage," Goldfein said during a state of the Air Force briefing alongside Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James at the Pentagon.

"So that's why, when I hear about an F-35 versus J-20, it's almost an irrelevant comparison because you really got to think about a network versus a network."


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