The signs have been there for some time. In 1997, the US Office of Naval Intelligence stated their conviction that a 4th generation stealth fighter was under development in China. Then in December, 2008, the highly respected "Jane's All the World's Aircraft" went on record saying that China has been developing a “heavyweight” stealth fighter for many years.
In 2005, a former Northrup B2 design engineer was arrested for selling highly classified data about the B-2 and its stealth design to China. Noshir Gowadia has admitted to the charges and so there is no question that the propulsion system and stealth design features of the B-2 have been studied intensively by those designing fighters and bombers for China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
China – Shenyang JXX / J14 - concept
Aviation art - Karl Toussaint
In April 2009, China cyberwar experts attacked the US Department of Defense computers that hold classified data about the F-35 program. Apparently a great deal of data was downloaded, although theft of information in the highest security classification was not acknowledged.
At least two Chinese stealth fighters are farther along in development than anyone would have imagined six months ago. The most recent of these stealth fighter photographs was published on November 25, 2009 on a website that has high level expertise in all matters relating to Chinese military aviation.
China – Shenyang J SAC-601 J-15A / Stealth Fighter Prototype – First Photo
Photo - cjdby.net / Chinese Military Aviation
The photo below of a Shenyang JXX / J14 in a hanger has been available for at least two years and has been widely criticized. It is described as either a prototype J-14 or J-15 stealth fighter, but it could also be an altered photograph of an existing Chinese heavyweight fighter.
China – Shenyang JXX / J14 / Stealth Fighter Prototype
China J-11B fighter
Photo - sinodefence.com
Unveiled in 2002, the Shenyang J-11B is a very advanced, multi-role attack fighter with Chinese-made avionics and some degree of reduced radar cross section (stealth) – ideal for trying out new ideas about increased stealth. Since 2006, it has been a testbed for the Chinese FWS-10A ‘TaiHang’ turbofan engine. The FWS-10A is similar to the Russian AL-31F, and is a candidate for next generation stealth aircraft propulsion.
The J-15 is expected to be stationed on the Varyag aircraft carrier, now in the last stages of fitting out in Dalian. The Russian AL-31F, an advanced and proven turbofan engine, is the first choice for a power plant. The American fighter that most closely resembles what little we know about the J-15 is the F/A-18C 'Super Hornet'. Latest news from China states that the J-15 made its maiden flight on August 31, 2009.
A second 'new' stealth fighter - the J-20 - seems to be in development and we know even less about it than the J-15. Russia remains essential for important features: reduction of radar cross section and the best of the advanced turbofan engines. The J-10B fighter is used as a testbed for many J-20 systems. A full scale model of the J-20 may have been completed in 2009. The maiden flight for the J-20 is scheduled for sometime in 2012 with production and combat readiness set for 2015.
China – Shenyang JXX / J14 / Stealth Fighter and AWAC - concept
Artist - Chang Yu Hu / blog.sina.com.cn
China's Stealth Fighter / Borrowed Design Features from Russia and the USA
The Chinese scrutinize many foreign aircraft for best design features beyond those in the USA and Russia.
Russia – Mikoyan MiG 1.42 fighter, prototype
Russian Navy - Sukhoi Su-33UB (Flanker D), AL-31FU turbofan engines / MAAK Air Show, 2005
Photo - Australian Air Power
A prototype of the advanced Su-33 was acquired by China from the Ukraine in 2001. It likely contributed many design features to current Chinese stealth fighter designs.
MIG-35B /Mikoyan MIG-35 'Fulcrum F'
Northrup McDonnell YF-23 on runway
China – Xian H8 Bomber
CGI artist - Chang Yu Hu / blog.sina.com.cn/zhangyufeiniao
This concept is often described as an Xian-H6i which is an odd identification. All versions of the Xian H6 bomber series are designed with an earlier generation, 'classic' long narrow fuselage that has no flying wing characteristics.
USA – Northrup Grumman B-2 Spirit / Loading Bombs
Photo - Master Sgt. Val Gempis / USAF
China's Quest for Superpower Status
Think about it! There is No Reason why the Chinese should not be aggressively developing stealth military aircraft. Flush with 2 trillion+ USD as they ride out the global recession in much better shape than the United States, research and development can easily be financed. If China can approach parity with the USA in numbers and quality of stealth aircraft, nuclear carrier battle groups and nuclear attack submarines, they have become a 'superpower' via projection of their foreign policy and military strength.
China – Xian H-8 Stealth Bomber at airfield / concept
CGI artist - Chang Yu Hu / blog.sina.com.cn/zhangyufeiniao
A trillion dollars + will be spent on the F-35 program before it concludes many years hence. Monies spent on stealth aircraft in the United States further weaken the overall economy of the crumbling super power. In that alone, China's 'stealth aircraft program' will have accomplished a great deal.
China – Stealth Fighters with Owl
Artist - Chang Yu Hu / photo.blog.sina.com.cn
This planet does not want to see a continuation of America as the world's sole superpower, nor would it be a 'good thing' for China to assume first position by itself. When neither country can achieve dominance, there is a bipolar world in which cooperation, rather than confrontation, should be the foreign policy of choice. Ideally, trillion dollar weapons system programs should not be the route to peace, but history often takes a less than direct path to conflict resolution and friendly competition.
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