The J-20 is China's most advanced fifth-generation stealth fighter. Photo: Xinhua

Beijing could declare its first stealth fighter squadron, likely to be comprised of Chinese-made J-20s, operational as soon as this year. It has also been test-flying its long-range bomber, the H-20, which will be capable of delivering nuclear weapons all the way to the US outpost of Guam and even Hawaii.

This news came in statements made this week by four-star General Charles Brown, commander of the Honolulu, Hawaii-based US Pacific Air Forces.

Brown told Bloomberg in a recent interview that the People’s Liberation Army’s stealth J-20 fighter could “possibly” be operational this year, a development that he said would signal “greater threat, greater capability” for China in the Asia-Pacific region. He said that the US would answer this with increased deployments of F-35 jets and their continued use in overflights of strategic areas such as the South China Sea.

Charles Brown, Commander of the US Pacific Air Forces. Photo: Handout

“My sense of the way the Chinese operate is somewhat incremental. They’ll continue to push the envelope to figure out does anybody say or do anything – if you don’t push back, it’ll keep coming,” Brown said, adding that the PLA fighters and bombers have recently demonstrated a greater propensity to fly beyond the nation’s littoral, or coastal, waters.

Brown, a veteran aviator who has logged 2,900 flight hours including more 130 in combat, was on the US east coast this week to speak with Asia experts about the challenges facing his command.

Fielding the J-20 would add more strength to what is already Asia’s largest air force. According to a recent US Defense Intelligence Agency report, the PLA currently has more than 2,500 aircraft including 1,700 combat fighters, strategic and tactical bombers and multi-mission tactical and attack warplanes.

The same report highlighted that the PLA’s J-20 was part of Beijing’s modernization imperative to close the gap on fifth-generation fighters like the F-35 across a spectrum including stealth performance, command and control and electronic warfare.

Brown also said China had been in a process to develop what he called “dual-use bombers” capable of carrying nuclear warheads and non-nuclear precision-guided weapons.

Brown’s remarks are in tune with a similar warning from the Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who this week said in a statement to the US House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense that a Chinese long-range bomber “would make it only one of three nations” to “possess a nuclear triad of land, sea and air-based capabilities.”

Asymmetric advantage

China’s J-20 is formidable but may still lack data-crunching and data-sharing capabilities with other platforms. Photo: Twitter

Some experts insist that the US will continue to maintain an “asymmetric” advantage over potential adversaries in the Western Pacific even after the PLA brings the J-20 into operational service.

“When we apply fifth-generation technology, it’s no longer about a platform, it’s about a family of systems… It’s about a network and that’s what gives us an asymmetrical advantage, so that when I hear about an F-35 versus a J-20, it’s almost an irrelevant question,” Air Force chief of staff General David Goldfein said last year when asked to comment on the J-20.

Observers agree to a need for the adoption of a systems approach where networking and data crunching and sharing are key, instead of fixating on the performance of individual warplanes.

The National Interest magazine’s military editor Dave Majumdar also noted that while accurate information about the J-20 is scarce, there are indications that the Chinese aircraft is equipped with phased array radar, a robust electronic warfare system and an electro-optical/infrared sensor – similar in concept to what are aboard the F-35. However the J-20 may lack the “sensor fusion” and networking to be as effective as the F-22 or F-35.

He added that the F-22 and F-35 have cockpit displays that indicate to the pilot information to evade the enemy by making sure to avoid zones where they could be detected and engaged, something that is absent aboard the J-20.

Read more: 

Chinese papers hint at ‘upgraded J-20’ to match the F-35

Replica at US airbase an admission of J-20’s threat

PLA’s H-20 stealth bomber to take to the skies soon

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

Join the Conversation

26 Comments

  1. I used to be suggested this web site by way of my cousin. I’m now not sure whether this publish is written by him as nobody else recognize such
    exact approximately my difficulty. You’re amazing! Thanks!

  2. Hi there very nice blog!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark
    your site and take the feeds also? I’m happy to find so many helpful info here within the
    publish, we want develop extra techniques on this regard, thank you for sharing.

    . . . . .

  3. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to
    your weblog? My blog is in the exact same area
    of interest as yours and my visitors would definitely benefit from some of the information you provide here.
    Please let me know if this ok with you. Appreciate it!

  4. I am now not sure where you’re getting your information, however great topic. I needs to spend a while studying more or understanding more. Thank you for magnificent info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  5. I got this site from my buddy who shared with me regarding this web
    page and now this time I am visiting this web
    site and reading very informative posts at this time.
    plenty of fish natalielise

  6. Hey are using WordPress for your site platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be really appreciated!

  7. Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to
    give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your articles.

    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover
    the same subjects? Thank you so much!

  8. Hey there this is kinda of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs
    use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code
    with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding experience so
    I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  9. What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I
    have discovered It absolutely helpful and it has helped me out loads.
    I hope to give a contribution & help different customers like its helped me.
    Great job.

  10. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are
    not already 😉 Cheers!

  11. I do accept as true with all the ideas you have introduced in your post. They are very convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very quick for newbies. May you please lengthen them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

  12. I am not sure the place you are getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend a while learning much more or figuring out more. Thank you for wonderful information I was looking for this information for my mission.

  13. Hi there just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

  14. I cling on to listening to the reports speak about getting free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the most excellent site to get one. Could you tell me please, where could i find some?

  15. An attention-grabbing dialogue is price comment. I believe that you must write more on this subject, it may not be a taboo subject however usually people are not sufficient to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  16. Greetings from Florida! I’m bored to tears at work
    so I decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch
    break. I really like the knowledge you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my mobile .. I’m not even using WIFI,
    just 3G .. Anyways, amazing blog!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *