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China’s Secret Weapon: The Chengdu J-20

Written by on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Lockheed Martin’s test flights with their newly released F-35s are going swimmingly, with tests proceeding ahead of schedule as F-35s are quickly being sent to Air Force bases and carriers. The F-35 is one of the first 5th generation stealth fighter jets, which means that it will dominate the skies even as other countries are only beginning to put the finishing touches on their own multi-purpose fighters.


Though, the old story of the tortoise and the hare has taught us that faster isn’t always better. China is certainly behind the US in the race to populate its respective air force with 5th generation fighters, but this slower pace does not necessarily mean that the Chengdu J-20 will be less impressive than the F-35.


It’s difficult to compare the J-20 to the F-35, as the J-20 is a highly classified and well-guarded aircraft about which little is known. Still, leaks and surveillance have allowed Americans to infer the potential capabilities of this Chinese fighter.

The most striking thing about the J-20 is its size. The massive Chengdu J-20 dwarf’s Lockheed’s F-35; more than likely, its size and shape are intended to help it sustain supersonic cruise speeds. Additionally, its angular dimensions allow for it to maintain a high level of stealth buy valium against enemy radar.


Its wings follow a canard-delta shape, and it bears a twin engine configuration. Its dark coloration is likely intended to help reduce its visibility.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the advanced technology of the Chengdu J-20 is that, more than likely, much of it was stolen from American ingenuity. During the Kosovo war, a fluke allowed for a missile to take down a U.S. F-117 Nighthawk, which was actually the first time that a Nighthawk had ever been hit. Allegedly, the Chinese government purchased pieces of the jet from locals who had picked up parts of the Nighthawk and then reverse engineered the stealth technology.


American officials expect the Chengdu J-20 to be operational by the end of the decade. Will this Chinese fighter pick up speed and become the king of the skies? Or will this slow-to-produce aircraft recycled from old U.S. parts prove to simply be behind in the times? It’s difficult to say for sure, as details about this Chinese superjet is scarce, and what information we do get from the Chinese government is dubious at best. Hopefully, there will never be a need for the F-35 and the J-20 to clash, forcing us to pit these top fighters against each other.



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