Stealth Fighters Are Hard: Modernization of China’s Aerial Arsenal Encounters Obstacles


Categorie: Air, China, David Axe, Stealth |
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J-16? Via Top 81.

J-16? Via Top 81.


China has a brand-new jet fighter. Only it’s not really brand-new at all. The emergence of the much-touted Shenyang J-16, following years of speculation, represents a surprising twist in China’s more than decade-long effort to build a world-class air force — and a reminder to outsiders that even Beijing with its tight central control, extensive manufacturing base and apparent deep pockets cannot perform aerospace miracles.

In December 2010 the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force shocked observers when it allowed civilian photographers to snap and publish photos of China’s very first, and previously unseen, stealth fighter prototype undergoing ground testing in Chengdu in central China.

The J-20 “Mighty Dragon” took off for its apparent first test flight on Jan. 11, inaugurating what some have described as a new era of aerial warfare, in which advanced Chinese aircraft might challenge the decades-long dominance of the U.S. military with its stealth fighters and bombers. “China’s new Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter was an important milestone in China’s Long March toward parity in military technology with Russia and the West,” wrote Carlo Kopp, an analyst with Air Power Australia, an independent think tank.

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3 Responses to “Stealth Fighters Are Hard: Modernization of China’s Aerial Arsenal Encounters Obstacles”

  1. dylanjones says:

    You’re behind the curve David. You’re reporting on the J-16, which was pictured weeks ago, while the J-21 has apparently just emerged at a highway rest-stop outside Shenyang.

  2. David Axe says:

    Yeah, I had filed the J-16 story for another publication back in early May, but it fell through, so the story has just now become free for me to republish. I wanted to get the J-16 story out into the open ASAP so I could move on to the J-21, if it’s in fact real.

  3. Alejandro says:

    I think that in the long run China’s Artillery Corps are the far greater story in terms of both the potential impact of a fourth Taiwan Straight crisis as well as in terms of a threat to US military operations in Asia.

    Obviously the carrier killer missile is a factor but at a complete and comprehensive level China’s Artillery divisions are the most modern and effective military force within the entire Chinese military.

    Unlike the United States Army which has butchered and underfunded it’s artillery divisions in the wake of the invasion of Iraq for additional infantry during the stop loss years from 2005-2007, China has had a credible and fearsome artillery force since the end of the Korean War.

    In terms of SAM batteries, Self Propelled Artillery battalions, and Coastal Artillery Regiments, the Chinese military actually maintain better weapons than the United States Army.

    Examples include the PLZ-05 self propelled artillery system, the S-300 PMU-2 (with over 300 launchers) and the in terms of anti ship missiles they have three options depending on your preference.

    C-611 Silkworm (200kn range)

    Kh-55 (2000-3000km range)

    DF-21 (1500+kn range)

    In contrast the United States fields 1960′s era M109 Howitzers as it’s main self propelled artillery piece (which have failed to be replaced on five separate occasions), over 1106 Patriot launchers (can’t say how many are anti aircraft oriented Pac 2′s vs Ballistic missile oriented Pac 3′s)and no coastal artillery units (which is a good thing as P-8 and P-3 MPA are far more useful.)

    I believe if a conflict arises between China and the United States between now and 2020, it will be the Chinese Artillery corps that will prove to be the greatest threat, not their navy or air force.

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