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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