Airshow China, in the southern city of Zhuhai, offers an opportunity to demonstrate its ambitions in civil aerospace. This is the reason why the J-20 was presented to the public officially.
Importance and advantages of stealth technology on the modern battlefield is obvious. Military watchers say J-20 is ‘clearly a big step forward in Chinese combat capability’ after its flypast at airshow in Zhuhai. Experts say China has been refining designs in the hope of narrowing a military gap with USA.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in the region, particularly in the South China and East China seas. Also China is set to overtake the US as the world’s top aviation market in the next decade. Of course US won’t let it happen, so in the coming decade we will be witnesses of the quite hard rivalry between those two countries – leader and aspiring one.
But the question is: can this plane be the best of Western stealth tech, the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters? Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia, of the Teal Group says “No”. The J-20 is no F-22, and nowhere does it fall shorter than with its most critical trait: dodging detection. “At best, it’s probably stealthy only from the front”, says Aboulafia. It’s because stealth relies on the shape of the aircraft, its exhaust, material composition, cockpit shielding, and even flight characteristics.
In theory Chengdu J-20 technically can be counted as a fifth-generation fighter—it’s got the same sort of tech and capability of its contemporaries—but it lacks the breadth of know-how and technological innovation you see in American jets. But from the other side, this aircraft will give China huge advantage in air-to-air combat over its Asian neighbors, as says military analyst Peter Singer.
So in conclusion, Mighty Dragon is, in general, a capable aircraft and the milestone in Chinese military aircraft design. J-20 is a platform worthy of future development.
Author: Daniel Kasprzycki
Photo: Chengdu J-20 Mighty Dragon in flight. Source: RT.com