The internet has exploded with the pictures of the Chinese J-20 stealth jet. Apparent pictures of this vehicle have been released unofficially and are making rounds across the internet. Determining whether the aircraft is real or not is something which some can only guess at. However graphics analysts and industry professionals have not determined the actual picture with its contents to be a fake. What the aircraft could be is a “mock-up” of what the Chinese envision their 5th generation aircraft will look like.
Similar to the F-22 stealth air-superiority fighter, the J-20 in these new pictures are said to have been considerably larger than the F-22. Which brings into question the hypothetical role the J-20 will play. (Since … there has been no official statement which role this aircraft will play) Due to its size one would assume that the aircraft would mainly be a fast stealth bomber and particularly due to its size it is likely that the aircraft is a long range stealth bomber.
One could also question what stealth capabilities other than its design the aircraft has and how it keeps a low radar profile. As the F-22 incorporates many technologies which allow for stealth operations to take place, such as the paint (Boeing’s Topcoat) on the F-22 is specialized into “reducing vulnerability to detection”.
Design isn’t simply the deciding factor on how an aircraft will perform, dependent on its internal systems also factors into its capabilities. The F-22 features highly advanced AESA technology and powerful sensors which can engage other aircraft beyond visual range (BVR). How advanced the technology is inside this aircraft is an important thing when comparing aircraft as aircraft can look great on the outside, but does it have the technology to actually face real-world combat against its Western counterparts. Especially with countries like Taiwan who purchase mainly high quality Western military equipment and missiles.
If the Chinese should be given credit for something, they are good at copying things. However with the J-20 it looks a cross between the T-50 Pak Fa and the F-22 Raptor in terms of its actual front nose and rear. Though the twin engines don’t particularly look high-tech, although it has to have a very powerful engine in order to accommodate this aircraft size, which is said to be larger than the U.S. F-22 and the Russian made T-50 Pak fa.
Countries who should be worried
Taiwan. An island which the KMT political party fled to when the PRC communist forces ousted the Nationals/Republic from power in mainland China. The last province or Island which the communist party of China haven’t been able to regain control of since the late 50’s (1949). Though China has expressed that they are peaceful and don’t want to cause unrest, it has been a little tedious in its relations with Taiwan. For example just today (06/01/2011) China and Taiwan launched a joint economic committee, called “The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement” whereby officials from both territories will meet every 6 months. However on the other hand Beijing has stated that it considers Taiwan part of its territory and “has vowed to get it back, by force if necessary”. The Taiwanese government also made deals with the U.S. of purchasing U.S. made Patriot missiles back in June 8th 2010. – China urged for the sale not to go through as they considered the U.S. as meddling with “internal affairs”. So the current relations between China and Taiwan are a little tedious.
By force … The introduction of the anti-ship ballistic missile… the first developed in the world by China.
However China have many options such as the D-21 ballistic missile, a growing navy, ground force, air force and as of late to complement the air force the J-20 Stealth aircraft. The D-21C is a ballistic missile which is intended to block any naval interaction and has been speculated to have been developed to stop deny carrier groups free reign; especially so in the Taiwan strait. The question comes to mind whether or not the Taiwanese forces will be in the future capable of defending themselves against possible attacks from stealth aircraft such as the J-20. – Still hypothetically speaking, seeing as we don’t know how capable this aircraft is and we don’t know much about it.
If I were the Taiwanese defense minister; I would be worried about these new aircraft which the Chinese are building as they definitely “look” capable and highly advanced. It will come to a point where China will become too powerful for its own good in this world. Which is why Taiwan needs to keep updating its military hardware to counter threats which China currently have and potentially or most likely in the future. Though the U.S. has no obligations under any agreements to come to Taiwan’s aid, so they need to think like an independent country which has to protect its citizens. These stealth aircraft are a threat for Taiwan, though even not released yet, it is the potential and possible threat to which these aircraft in future can inflict against the ROC.
However there is a possible counter to the J-20 aircraft which the Republic of China could purchase over the Peoples Republic of China; this is the F-35 Lightning II. If they could purchase this, it is said they could have an equal match in terms of stealth capabilities. It is whether or not the US grants any exports of the F-35 to Taiwan and possibly to Japan’s ‘defense force’ to combat any stealth capability which the US have. This is considered an option or route which the ROC could take. Lockheed Martin the core developer of the F-35 Lightning II has only compared the aircraft to 4th generation fighters and has stated that the F-35 is 400% more effective. Though Lockheed Martin (LM) have stated that the F-35 has 5th generation capabilities. However analysts in Taiwan have dismissed the J-20 to being a 5th generation aircraft altogether but if it actually is able to escape the prying eyes of sensors and radar systems the F-35 would be an aircraft for Taiwan and perhaps others to combat it.
Link: http://armour.ws/pictures-of-the-j-20/ (Slide show of the J-20 stealth aircraft; requires flash)