Caught Sleeping on the Watch

By Jim Emerson, staff writer

June 2009, while speaking at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, “Defense Secretary Robert Gates defended his proposed cuts in the Air Force’s fighter fleet in Fiscal 2010 as part of overall changes to the US tactical air arm. He said under his plan—to cap F-22 production at 187, shed more than 250 legacy fighters, and rely on the F-35 production line henceforth as the sole active source of advanced stealth fighters—the US will still be left with a “numerical and technological edge” that will remain “extremely strong and far superior to that of any potential competitor for at least the next 15 to 20 years.” In fact, Gates said the US will have “roughly 1,200” fifth-generation combat aircraft in 2020, while “the Chinese will have zero.””

He couldn’t have been more wrong.


On Dec 29, 2010 Chinese bloggers reveled what may be China’s J-20 stealth Aircraft  and hinted  China would be conducting high-speed taxi tests this month. From preliminary estimates based on photographs the aircraft is about 70 feet long, too long to be a fighter but most likely a long-range interdiction or strike aircraft design similar to the role performed by the now retired F-117.

The aircraft was designed to be stealthy from head on only. The philosophy behind this design concept is to reduce its radar signature long enough in order to get close enough to launch missiles before being detected. An analysis of the engine configuration, a pair of Russian built Klimov 117S engines, and roomy internal bomb bays shows the aircraft has been estimated to weight about 8,000 lbs.

If you read these last two paragraphs you now know more about this Chinese stealth aircraft than Secretary Gates seems to know. In the Department of Defenses’ 2010 Annual Report on Security Developments Involving China, the Chinese stealth program was never even mentioned.


The most probable use of the J-20 will be in an Anti-Shipping role. To protect is water-ways from the American Navy and possibly, depending on its range, to strike at U.S. and Japanese bases in Japan. China is obsessed with protecting it borders and is designing and purchasing military hardware with the capability to do so.

Defense Secretary Gates has been more concerned with the repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” and defense budget cuts to pay attention to the intelligence community’s warnings about real threats to the country. Maybe this congress will compel him to purchase more F-22s stop messing with F-35 development and do his job. For the last two years the man has been asleep on the watch.

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This day in history January 8

1964: Democrat President Lyndon Johnson announced his  failed War on Poverty.



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5 thoughts on “Caught Sleeping on the Watch”

  1. I just wonder how it is that Gates has gone from being a staunch supporter of the Bush administration to a weakend hand puppet of the Obama administration. Oh, and BTW, Does Gates really think he knows more aboutht readiness and capabilities of the Air Force then the Generals in charge or is that another indication of Obama talking through Gatse mouth?

  2. Personally, I don't understand how anyone from the Bush administration could work for Obama. Apparently prostitution is legal in DC.

    1. Why not? Both Bush II and Obama are Liberals? How many VETOES did Bush II sign? Remember "No Child Left Behind"? Remember the Prescription Drug Act? Remember "Compassionate Conservatism"? Remember Bush II's enactment of Wilsonian Democracy vis. a. vis. Iraq and Ashcanistan? Remember TARP?

      At least Obama never claimed to be a Conservative.

  3. As a student of Military History, History, the US Constitution and Politics it seems plain, to me anyway, that the US ARMY/AIR FORCE should be reduced to pre-WWII levels. The Cold War is over. NATO ended its useful existence after the fall of the Soviet Empire. SEATO died 3 decades ago, let China take care of Korea; they are no threat to Japan. Allow Japan to pay its own defense tab. Small professional Army/Air Force with a large Reserve component will suffice.

    We do need a large Navy with attendant Marine Corps (but just one Corps (three divisions, 2 active duty, 1 reserve)).

    As for fighter planes designed to fight the (non-existent) Soviet Union, the US needs Close Air Support, not 5th gen Air Superiority Fighters. The Air Force continues to resist CAS, as CAS pilots do not have the same career advancement as Air Superiority pilots. The purpose of the Air Force is to support ground troops, especially in today's battle space. Return control of the Air Force to the Army. It is where it belonged in the First Place.

    Remember Eisenhower's warning, Remember Washington's warning.

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