China has recently tested its second fifth-generation stealth fighter J-20. The tests were conducted in the middle of May in the city of Chengdu - an administrative center of China's Sichuan province in the south-west. The photos of the prototype of the aircraft in the air inundated Chinese blogs and soon appeared in Western blogs, The Daily Mail wrote.
For the first time, the J-20 Mighty Dragon was tested in January 2011. The news about the tests leaked on the Chinese internet. The authorities confirmed the information only several days afterwards.
Specialists say that the J-20 will make competition to the US-made F-22 Raptor. This aircraft is the world's only fifth-generation stealth fighter that has been passed into service. Moreover, Western specialists say that the Chinese fighter bears a striking resemblance to the American jet.
It is generally believed that the Chinese obtained certain state-of-the-art aviation technologies, including stealth, by stealing them from the USA or Russia. It also seems suspicious that China built the aircraft and started its tests too quickly. Chinese officials originally said that the new jet would appear as early as in 2017. US specialists thought that the Chinese stealth fighter would appear some time in 2020 or even later.
The Chinese may have copied the stealth technology from the US-made F-117 aircraft that crashed in Serbia in 1999. They probably bought the fragments of the plane from local farmers.
It goes without saying that the Chinese strongly reject the information that says that the new stealth fighter was built on the base of other countries' technologies. Chinese officials can only say that it is the achievement of their designers and engineers. A Chinese test pilot said, for example, that some parameters of the J-20 marked a technological breakthrough for the country.
At the same time, China's J-20 is outfitted with Russian engines, Wired said. Therefore, China will not be able to launch the serial production of the new aircraft until it develops its own analogue of the engines.
However, the creation of the Chinese fighter jet on the base of the anti-radar technology and other military developments of the Celestial Empire raise serious concerns with the Americans. They believe that China spent up to $180 billion on defense last year. The amount considerably exceeds the officially announced defense budget for the current year - $106 billion.
Washington is concerned about serious competition, especially against the background of the problems with the F-22 Raptor. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has recently ordered to restrict the exploitation of the nation's most expensive fighter after it was revealed that the pilots of the plane receive slow poisoning due to defects in the onboard system of oxygen generation.
In addition, China's growing power raises concerns with the Pentagon in light of the Taiwan-related problem. The Republicans have recently voted for the USA to sell 66 F-16 jets to Taiwan to add to the modernization plans for the Taiwanese Air Force. The Obama administration has blocked the sales of new aircraft not to aggravate the situation.
In the meantime, Taiwan can be involved in smuggling US technologies to China. In April, two US-based citizens of Taiwan were arrested for their intention to purchase drones, the stealth technology and anti-aircraft systems. It was said that they were going to sell them to Beijing afterwards, Americaru.com reports.
The peculiar feature that differs a fifth-generation aircraft from its predecessor is simple. All information is processed and analyzed by the onboard computer system before it is displayed to pilot. Such a plane is super maneuverable. It is also capable of flying at supersonic speed without the activation of the afterburner. Such features can be achieved owing to state-of-the-art engines.
The exploitation of a fifth-generation fighter jet is supposed to be cheaper. For example, the cost of one hour of the exploitation of the fourth-generation Su-27 fighter jet makes up $10,000, whereas for a fifth-generation jet the cost is much lower - up to $1,500.
A fifth-generation fighter jet must be nearly invisible in all physical fields. However, critics say that "invisibility" of high-tech aircraft is only a myth. To detect an enemy, a plane has to use a radar, which immediately gives its location. In addition, air defense technologies have been developing along with the stealth technology. State-of-the-art radars can "see" a lot farther and better than they could before. As a matter of fact, it only goes about lower visibility.