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Initial photos of the Chinese stealth fighter J-20

Initial photos of the Chinese stealth fighter J-20

WSJ reports:

The photographs, published on several unofficial Chinese and foreign defense-related websites, appear to show a J-20 prototype making a high-speed taxi test—usually one of the last steps before an aircraft makes its first flight—according to experts on aviation and China’s military.

The exact origin of the photographs is unclear, although they appear to have been taken by Chinese enthusiasts from the grounds of or around the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute in western China, where the J-20 is in development. A few experts have suggested that the pictured aircraft is a mock-up, rather than a functioning prototype of a stealth fighter—so-called because it is designed to evade detection by radar and infrared sensors.

But many more experts say they believe the pictures and the aircraft are authentic, giving the strongest indication yet that Beijing is making faster-than-expected progress in developing a rival to the U.S. F-22—the world’s only fully operational stealth fighter.

Chinese authorities who monitor Internet traffic in the country appear not to have tried to block the J-20 pictures.

“The photos I’ve seen look genuine,” said Gareth Jennings, aviation desk editor at Jane’s Defence Weekly.

“It’s pretty far down the line,” he said. “The fact that its nose wheel is off the ground in one picture suggest this was a high-speed taxi test—that usually means a test flight very soon afterwards. All the talk we’ve heard is that this could happen some time in the next few weeks.”

U.S. officials played down Chinese advances on the plane, which American intelligence agencies believe will likely be operational around 2018. “We are aware that the Chinese have recently been conducting taxi tests and there are photos of it,” said Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan. “We know they are working on a fifth-generation fighter but progress appears to be uneven.”

NYT reports:

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, on a mission to resuscitate moribund military relations with China, will not arrive in Beijing for talks with the nation’s top military leaders until Sunday. But at an airfield in Chengdu, a metropolis in the nation’s center, China’s military leaders have already rolled out a welcome for him.

It is the J-20, a radar-evading jet fighter that has the same two angled tailfins that are the trademark of the Pentagon’s own stealth fighter, the F-22 Raptor. After years of top-secret development, the jet — China’s first stealth plane — was put through what appear to be preliminary, but also very public, tests this week on the runway of the Aviation Design Institute in Chengdu, a site so open that aircraft enthusiasts often gather there to snap photos of their favorites.

Some analysts say the timing is no coincidence. “This is their new policy of deterrence,” Andrei Chang, the Hong Kong editor in chief of the Canadian journal Kanwa Defense Weekly, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “They want to show the U. S., show Mr. Gates, their muscle.”

Besides the J-20, a midair-refuelable, missile-capable jet designed to fly far beyond Chinese borders, the Chinese are reported to be refitting a Soviet-era Russian aircraft carrier — China’s first such power-projecting ship — for deployment as soon as next year. Two other 50,000-ton-plus carriers are being built from scratch in a Shanghai shipyard. The first is said to be scheduled for launching by 2014; several more could come by 2020, Pentagon experts say.

The military’s nuclear deterrent, estimated by experts at no more than 160 warheads, has been redeployed since 2008 onto mobile launchers and advanced submarines that no longer are sitting ducks for attackers. Multiple-warhead missiles are widely presumed to come next. China’s 60-boat submarine fleet, already Asia’s largest, is being refurbished with super-quiet nuclear-powered vessels and a second generation of ballistic-missile-equipped subs.

And a widely anticipated antiship ballistic missile, called a “carrier-killer” for its potential to strike the big carriers at the heart of the American naval presence in the Pacific, appears to be approaching deployment. The head of the United States Pacific Command, Adm. Robert F. Willard, told a Japanese newspaper in December that the weapon had reached “initial operational capability,” an important benchmark. Navy officials said later that the Chinese had a working design but that it apparently had yet to be tested over water.

No ceremonial reading of biodata, no exchange of shawls. Just years of hard work while India is still mired in make-work projects like the LCA.

Jan 11, 2011

Yes, India also ran. The Press Information Bureau of the government patted itself on the back:

Nearly three decades after it was first conceptualized, the Initial Operational Clearance for the Light Combat Aircraft was accorded today when the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony handed over a formal “Release to Service Certificate” of Tejas aircraft to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, at a function in Bangalore. The “Release to Service certificate” is prepared by Regional Center for Military Airworthiness, an organization under CEMILAC (Center for Military Airworthiness and Certification) which has thoroughly scrutinized the entire design, development, equipment testing and the results of flight testing of all the systems of Tejas over the last several months. This is the first time an indigenously designed and developed military fighter aircraft is being certified for Air Force operations. This occasion marks a very important achievement in the design and development of Tejas in particular and military aviation in the country as a whole. After this, Tejas aircraft will be available for use by the Indian Air Force Pilots.

33 years late the Light Combat Aircraft almost arrives, as TOI reports:

As was first reported by TOI earlier, the overall developmental cost of the Tejas project, including the naval variant and trainer, has zoomed up to Rs 17,269 crore from the initial Rs 560 crore earmarked for it in 1983. With each Tejas to cost around Rs 200 crore over and above this, India will end up spending well over Rs 25,000 crore on the programme.

Moreover, the real induction of the first 40 Tejas jets will begin only towards end-2013, with the first two squadrons becoming fully operational at the Sulur airbase (Tamil Nadu) by 2015 or so, a full three decades after the LCA project was first sanctioned to replace the ageing MiG-21s.

That’s not all. The first test-flight of the Tejas Mark-II version, with more powerful American GE F-414 engines, will be possible only by December 2014, with its production beginning in June 2016. And even then, the Tejas will just be a medium to low-end fighter, not a high-end air dominance one.

ACM Naik, in fact, described Tejas as a “MiG-21 plus-plus”, and made it clear that it was not even a fourth-generation fighter at present but would be in the future, indicating it will primarily be used to plug the gap in numbers.

Consequently, India’s frontline combat fighters will the 270 Russian-origin Sukhoi-30MKIs already being inducted for around $12 billion, the 126 new medium multi-role combat aircraft to be acquired in the $10.4 billion MMRCA project and the 250 to 300 fifth-generation fighter aircraft to be built with Russia in the gigantic $35 billion project.

The fighter, for instance, is still only around 60% indigenous despite being 27 years in the making. It, for example, is powered by American GE engines, with the indigenous Kaveri engine failing to pass muster despite Rs 2,839 crore being spent on it since 1989.

Like the Indian made Russian nuclear submarine, we have the Indian made US jet engine.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

January 6, 2011 at 3:50 am

One Response

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  1. Now this is interesting. Everyone knew China was (and is)going to be one of the world’s strongest countries and now they’ve proven it.

    Not deleting posts about J-20 launch proves this information is real and the jet is real. Let’s hope they aren’t going to use it to strike Pacific forces.

    Jay B.

    January 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm


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