Friday, January 07, 2011

Stealth and the City: The Chinese Top-Guns the US did not see coming...

J-20 5th Generation Stealth Fighter

The fact is that it's largely leaked on the Internet and to the media before Defense Secretary Robert Gates visit to Beijing. It's therefore a minor slap or a "reverse" to the official, as in a tennis play, and the effect is largely worked out. With this news of a newly arrived Chinese stealth fighter, early year 2011, it is enough to sustain a clear signal to those who did not get it yet: China has ambitions! It's been years I write and voice it since I'm based in Asia, China and Japan included. But there is a method to engage China which of course I shall not elaborate here as a too lengthy exercise.

I demonstrated this clearly when I asked to China ambassador Wang Yi, 2005, November 29th, in front of 200 people at the press club in Tokyo about "China modernization of its defense and specifically about China's acquisitions of long range bombers from Russia, the TU-22 Backfire". Ambassador Wang Yi had not dismissed the contract and the effort of China's modernization of its economy and capacity.

His answer, in Japanese language, was a great thrill to Tokyo correspondents who lack contacts with Chinese leaders. With my Chinese diplomats friends based in Tokyo, I helped to organize an event because to my great surprise not any Chinese (PRC) ambassador had ever accepted to come to a press conference of the FCCJ in Tokyo since its creation after WWII. (Only Taiwanese used to rush to talk to the int'l media). I recall very well ambassador Wang Yi comments: "China has intention to defend its own country, our priority is to build our economy first."

MP3 of the event is here

So, as a logical suite, this week, China launched a test run for its first J-20 stealth fighter plane. China is said it still lags in certain key technologies. Beijing hasn't been able to produce its own fighter jet engines and for example still buys them from Russia. The leak on Wednesday of photos of what appears to be a prototype of China’s first stealth fighter jet attracted immediate attention worldwide, but many note that China is years away from moving that jet into service. True or wishful thinking...?

Pictures of the jet and accompanying articles appeared on the front page of the Chinese daily Global Times on Wednesday. The release reflects the growing confidence of the usually secretive China's People's Liberation Army, which is pushing for greater influence and bigger budgets. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates heads to China this weekend. Michael Schiffer confirmed China military industry is also embarked on a modernization program of its military aircrafts.

Here is a VDO Youtube version, with the classical Chinese melody version of the J-20

Also here are 2 worth-to-read articles of the China's "Global Times" on the stealth fighter J-20 and the modernization of China military program:

1) "Rumored stealth jet undergoes tests" by Yu Miao

"The rumored prototype of China's "J-20 stealth fighter jet" has created a stir over the nation's defensive advancements, but analysts suggest that any such program would simply reflect the country's industrial military progress. Pictures of the alleged fourth-generation jet fighter, equivalent to a fifth-generation craft under Western classifications, have been circulating on the Internet since mid-December."

2) "Military enterprises to face the market" by Deng Jingyin.

"China is set to complete shareholding reforms of its military industries within three to five years in a bid to accelerate the process of bringing them in line with civilian businesses and to raise more funds from capital markets. Stimulated by the news, stocks of military and other related industries saw a marked jump Thursday, indicating the market's confidence in the reform.

The scheme is one of seven major tasks for defense-related science, technology and industry under the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15). Sources from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology revealed that an inter-ministerial coordination mechanism would be established in 2011 to ensure the improvement of the reforms, the Shanghai Securities News (SCN)reported.

The completion of the reforms is also one of five targets set by the State Council and the Central Military Commission under a guideline for the improvement of a research and production system for weapons and equipment. "The guideline has upgraded military and civilian integration to a national strategy. This is a way to revitalize those companies through actively participating in market competition," Liu Jiangping, a Chinese military expert, told the Global Times."

Well, well well, what's the hell? Why do the media suddenly pretend no to know? Here is what I wrote about the modernization of China military jets on this blog... in December 2007:

Asian Gazette Saturday December 8th, 2007:
"China has already unveiled its new fighter, which is believed to be one of the most advanced used by any air force in the world today. Beijing is believed to be developing upgraded models with stealth capabilities, a J-XX..."

in: Title "Japan got his gun! A new stealth fighter!"
Here is the URL:

The only serious man, here, of course a military man, admitted that "the United States miscalculated the speed with which China is capable of developing its defense technology, Vice Adm. David "Jack" Dorsett, head of Navy intelligence, told reporters (Wednesday) that accounts China has been hard at work building a stealth fighter are "not a surprise."

After the news was released, this week, I got a few chats with some military experts in Tokyo town and later had a few talks at the Kasumigaseki "Press Center". Later on I dropped by the Fccj for a coffee, you should have seen the dark face of some of my colleagues of our "Gaijin" press club in Tokyo. Some Asian reporters I saw were broken-heads. One advise a friend told me is to advise the Taiwanese: "what about buying a French rafale of Dassault? It's not a 'rolls-royce' engine". So... scramble!

J-20 stealth fighter. The J-20 is believed to be "more technologically advanced than the Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, which is produced on a limited scale due to its exorbitant cost and whose more sophisticated functions have never been put in operation."

Sources & Reporters notes

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