Production of the new Chinese prototype J-20 fighter jet has begun its testing phase. At an airfield in Chengdu, Sichuan Province the Country’s first apparent stealth fighter conducted its first taxiing test. Although pictures of the new fighter have been circulating the internet for some time now, yesterday’s confirmation shows a sleek design as well as dimensions comparable to the US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Even though the Chinese government had made little to no effort in censoring the photographs of its newest generation fighter, its development and testing was little surprise to the US military and was quickly dismissed by officials. The recent rapid modernization of the Chinese military along with recent reverse engineering of Russian military technology in the fields of unmanned aerial vehicles and advanced anti-ship weaponry highlights China’s rise as not only a global economic power, but a growing military power as well. (ANR)
“The engines are most likely members of the Russian Saturn AL-31F family, also used on the J-10. The production version will require yet-to-mature indigenous engines. The Inlets use diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) technology, first adopted for the F-35 but also used by Chengdu on the J-10B – the newest version of the J-10 – and the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder.” (AW)
In addition to the recent unveiling of this stealth fighter program, the recent Wikileaks incident highlights a need for increasing security of US technological secrets. In 2008 a successful cyber attack on the Pentagon resulted in ‘cracking’ the codes of the worlds most secure servers. The target was the secret guidance and engineering schematics of the now 5th Generation Stealth F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. With the unveiling of China’s J-20 stealth fighter and its eerie similarities to the F-35, it would not be a far-fetched idea that the recent craze for Chinese reverse engineering might have also included other internationally known or stolen airframe schematics.
“Between 2009 and early 2010, Lockheed Martin found that “six to eight companies'” among its subcontractors “had been totally compromised – emails, their networks, everything,” according to Chief information Security Officer Anne Mullins.” (AW)
The Pentagon has stated that the Chinese fighter is still in its initial testing phase and has had considerable problems with its engines. Pentagon spokesman Marine Colonel Dave Lapan has stated that, “It’s something that [it] is in some form of development, as a fifth-generation fighter. As I noted, the Chinese are still having difficulties with their fourth-generation fighter.” While the Pentagon has stated its public knowledge of a stealth fighter program, the introduction of the J-20 had little impact as a concern of the US Military. (AUS)
As China continues its public military development, its remilitarization has highlighted a significant change in the balance of power in the western Pacific. Although its influence has been steadily raising for some time now, the introduction of newly acquired technology and numerical superiority of its military highlights a growing concern for strategic change. Even though the J-20 is still in its introductory phase, the rise of the Chinese military and its influence over the region highlights China’s determination to challenge the US position globally.