J-20 vs. F-35, One Analyst’s Perspective

With all the hoopla about China’s new fifth-gen fighter this week, we asked Teal Group aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia for his take on how serious a threat the J-20/J-XX  is to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in air-to-air combat and as a competitor on the global fast jet market.

Rumor has it the J-20 is designed to take on the air superiority-focused F-22 Raptor. But remember, now that the F-22 is ending production and is banned for export sales, the F-35 will be the fifth-gen mainstay of the United States and numerous allies.

Here’s what Richard has to say on the matter:

I would gauge a modern combat aircraft’s capabilities by looking at the following features:

1.      Access to offboard space, ground, and air-based sensors, particularly a capable AEW/AWACS system with a well-trained crew and robust data links.

2.      Effective sensor fusion to allow the pilot to make use of all this information, as well as information from onboard sensors.

3.      An integrated EW system.

4.      An AESA radar with a high level of reliability.

5.      Training and doctrine necessary to make effective use of all this data and equipment.  Plenty of flight hours for pilot flight training, too.

6.      Powerful engines (ideally capable of supercruise), with a high mean time between overhaul and failures.

7.      An airframe with low-observable characteristics.

8.      A robust air-to-air refueling capability (equipment, readiness, training).

9.      Sophisticated and reliable precision guided weaponry.

10.  A robust software and hardware upgrade roadmap, to keep this plane effective in 5, 10, and 30 years.

11.  Maintenance procedures in place to keep the plane operating with a high mission-capable rate.  And of course equipment that has been designed with easy access for maintenance and easy access for electronic diagnostic tools, and ideally a sophisticated health-usage monitoring system (HUMS).

This list is not in any particular order of magnitude.  And I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few other key items.

The J-20 offers one item from this list (#7).  I’m not convinced that the PLAAF has any other items from this list, although China seems to be making some progress with #9.

It’s kind of fun to watch the world fixate on this one item (#7).  Then again, I still enjoy air shows, too.  Pugachev’s Cobra maneuver, for example.  Drives the crowd wild.  Relevance to modern combat?  Zero.

As for the F-35, it certainly has its problems, especially regarding the price tag.  But most, if not all, of the customers and partners are sophisticated enough to have a list that’s a lot more comprehensive than the one above.  And I’m sure the appearance of item #7  as a prototype in PLAAF markings affects exactly none of their thinking.

  • STemplar

    Lots of good points not related to the platform itself that get lost in the Xbox analyses.

  • Oblat

    Cant be much of an analyst if he cant work out it’s a bomber.

  • Justin H

    They supposedly have #6 in the J-20.

  • Drake1

    Wow, a sensible opinion. Air Power Australia on the other hand has already crowned it the king of the skies, that will lay waste to everything the Navy will posses – just from photos alone!

  • Mat

    Vitor is right F35 in no fighter ,its a barely supersonic bomb truck ,sort of a modern day F105 that traded speed for stealth ,its an one trick pony (if stealth is compromised its hard pressed to fight 4th gen fighters let alone 5th)and also true B model imposed lot of restriction on design of the plane,F35 is not a pure fighter like F22 far from it.
    For now both the Russians and Chinese only need aicraft with good forward aspect stealth,both only use fighters over home turf with full AAM coverage ,unlike US that needs an allaspect stealth as its planes always play the aggresor in a foreign land
    That is the main reason for the design differences .

  • Richard Aboulafia-A guy who is about as accurate on military aircraft issues as a Vietnam era Sparrow.

    • Mike

      And we should listen to you I suppose should we child? You have the same credibility as Kopp from what I can gather Eric.

    • Gavin

      Yeah he’s so awful he’s only become a highly paid professional for the defence industry and yet you, being so much smarter than him are an unemployed nobody. Funny how that worked out Eric.

    • ano8

      Wow .who is talking

  • Hunter78

    The F35 will never save us in a war against China, as people here are discussing. It will not be available in sufficient numbers against a tuned-in Chinese economy. It is too bloated with it’s life support system. The US should find it’s best air weapon in lots of small stealthy unmanned jets. Better yet is not to fight the war at all.

    • Lance_HBomb

      You’re a real smartass, aren’t you.

      • Hunter78

        I should hope so.

    • jason

      The united states has a larger economy than china

      • dagre

        us economy isn’t going anymore anytime soon. the way economies are horribly set up usa will never have the growth it has had in the past 60 years. you need people to breed like bunnies and to get into heavy debt spending money they don’t have for the american economy to keep rising. China on the other hand, waited until usa was about to pop before it started, it has a few decades of growth to go before it pops also and by then the american economy will have popped and china will own so much of it’s debt that it’ll become a slave nation to china just like usa has been doing to many nations in the past few decades.

        • dagre

          anywhere O.o

        • Ben

          But the Chines economy relies on how the USD is doing. They will never dare to tryto force the Usa togive back the money in fear of their economy collapsing. Also, the US is the only nation capable oof supportting the free trade policy and china gains alot from it.

    • MikeW

      The F35 isn’t the only thing in our arsenal, look up the F22. Besides sheer size, China can’t even begin to match our military.

    • Doc

      Exactly. They can out produce us, and will probably have shorter lead times, stealing and copying our tech. There political system is not hamstrung by party conflict. They have plenty of lives to put on the line for the motherland without our worries on casualties. They have material, labor and a stronger currency. Our reliance on high dollar manned platforms, including carriers, can be unsustainable in combat with an armed up China. Our economy and tax structure is too weak to support a monopolistic defense industry approach. The DOD needs to encourage more diversity and smaller players to develop these low cost platforms. Our defense contractors are all too big to fail and subject to groupthink. Low tech, low dollar, unmanned in high numbers has to coordinate with and protect our few mega-platforms and high-dollar aircraft systems. The focus has been myopic given the numbers they are capable of producing and their espionage capability. Our political system is so screwed up after Citizen’s United they can probably sway elections here too. Gridlock is beautiful for Beijeng.

    • Doc

      Exactly. They can out produce us, and will probably have unexpectedly shorter lead times (3D printing of titanium), stealing and copying our tech. There political system is not hamstrung by party conflict. They have plenty of lives to put on the line for the motherland without our worries on casualties (26 million males or so due to one child policy exceeding females). They have material, labor and a stronger currency. Our reliance on high dollar manned platforms, including carriers, can be unsustainable in combat with an armed up China. Our economy and tax structure is too weak to support a monopolistic defense industry approach. The DOD needs to encourage more diversity and smaller players to develop these low cost platforms. Our defense contractors are all too big to fail and subject to groupthink. Low tech, low dollar, unmanned in high numbers has to coordinate with and protect our few mega-platforms and high-dollar aircraft systems. The focus has been myopic given the numbers they are capable of producing and their espionage capability. Our political system is so screwed up after Citizen’s United they can probably sway elections here too. Gridlock is beautiful for Beijeng.

  • Chops

    I wouldn’t count on the Chinese having number 6 on the list based on their inability to clone Russian jet engines-they just can’t get it right.I still think that the F22 line should be kept running and some of our closest and most trusted Allies should be allowed to buy them.

    • Justin H

      Supposedly it has Russians engines

    • John moore

      Dam straigh CA just spend what x # of billions on f-35 aquisitions, while they are giving them free to isreal I don’t get that.

      CA neded something with long reach speed and endurace as the f-18 were mostly used for interceptors. Using the f-35 I guess time will tell.

    • blight

      My concern is that today’s trusted allies could be tomorrow’s enemy. Britain and Japan were allies during World War One. The Soviets were our friends during WW2. Iran was a friend during the regime of the Shah, and Britain and France were mortal enemies for the first few centuries of post-Roman Western European history.

      With that said, anybody here willing to gamble against former friends turning foes, and being put in the awkward position of shooting down your own frontline aircraft?

  • Guest

    “To some degree” sounds like weasel words to me. Let’s make it simple.
    1. AWACS numbers and experience
    2. Proven EW experience/systems
    3. Sensor fusion of EODAS/helmet mounted display to find huge targets with hot engines
    4. Reliable AESA that can find them well before they find us
    5. Pilot flight hours/experience
    6. Reliable engines
    7. Stealth beyond shape and no canards
    8. Aerial refueling numbers and capacity
    9. Proven missiles
    10. Economic R&D upgrades due to large numbers
    11. Experience maintaining L.O. aircraft

    • Carl

      Israel Sold their High tech fighter to China which became the the J-10 fighter. Fact is Israel may have had a hand in the J-20.

    • passingby

      Guest, you don’t have a clue what you are talking about. Stop pretending.

  • Dude

    An assessment/comparison at this stage is far too premature.

    Think of J-20 as the PRC’s equivalent of YF-22; the aerodynamics and subsystems might have been totally revised 10 years from now.

    It’s a huge plane, that’s for sure, larger than both the Raptor and PAK-FA.

  • Justin H

    I think Secretary Gates might be right, we probably wont see a true Chinese 5th Gen fighter until 2020. Maybe 2015 at the very earliest.

  • Benjamin

    It most likely does have an AESA radar. The Chinese have fielded one on the J-10B. The thing that I would be looking at is its low speed performance. Good performance at low speed will give it the capability to operate off of carriers and that will give the Chinese an advantage over us if they field it to there Navy before our F-35B/C’s hit the fleet.

  • Brian

    the problems on this are nothing that can’t worked out over time, the j20 isn’t going to be flying sorties until maybe 2025. most of the items on this list can be purchased until developed internally via Russia or other partners. I still think china would be foolish to attack the USA, but in 2025 when they have the largest navy in the pacific, the calculus would be different.

    • Fiesta

      Just a question. Do they have anything in the Arctic or the Indian Ocean? Like SURTASS?

    • Jeff

      Is everybody here ignorant of the fact that both China and America are armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons? The best argument for us not going to war with China and China not going to war with us is our mutual ability to obliterate each other completely, and the world in the process.

      Fuck, people, get a grip.

  • superraptor

    It is still not clear to me why the USAF leadership is willing to waste billions on the already obsolete F-35, while suppressing any discussion about the need for a better alternative such an upgraded F-22. That the F-22 is a much better air dominance fighter nobody seems to deny and was pointed out by former USAF secretary Wynne. Even 700 F-22s will be cheaper than 2000 F-35s. So budgetary concerns can not be the reason for this strange F-35 obsession. Even stranger, this topic is not being given any consideration in the conservative media and Allies such as Japan or Israel are not questioning the US position re cancellation of the F-22.. One has the impression that whole groups of different players have either been brainwashed or have been silenced somehow. Lastly, nobody seems to question the notion of the need for lower defense budgets, whereas the opposite, higher defense budgets, much higher taxes and acceptance of a lower standard of living and consumption in the US seems to be needed in order for the US to be able to
    compete.strategically. Let’s face it the lower taxes in our country are stimulating the economy, but the economy of China.

    • Justin H

      Its the F-35 cult

    • ThunderFromDownUnder

      Re: Even stranger, this topic is not being given any consideration in the conservative media and Allies such as Japan or Israel are not questioning the US position re cancellation of the F-22..

      That would be because the F22 is a US only plane that will never be sold to anyone, not even allies, the F35 is the international plane, the one we will get, to cancel the F35 would place the USAs allies in a very difficult position, especially with the Russian & Chinese birds looming on the horizon!

      • superraptor

        You still would expect that an Israeli or Australian defence minister says: Hey your F-35 is not cutting it and by the way its price has doubled. Let’s have a joint venture and build a different plane maybe a Super F-35 2 engines bigger stealthier and yes more expensive, but adequate for the job

        • ThunderFromDownUnder

          and 20 years from now it might start to enter service, we’ve all ready had to buy Super Hornets as a stop gap until the 35s arrive & frankly, I don’t think we can justify paying more in R&D than we have on the 35 to date.

          Personally I’d love a multi-role Raptor (like the Strike Eagle) and so would many other Aussies, the Japs want it to, but it will never be (due to a US politicians stupidity), the F35 is the best we can hope for at this point, either that or walk away & sign up with India & Russia for the T50! LoL

      • LEG

        Not really. The F-22, with F-35 inserts (L-Band DEW and EODAS/EOTS among others) can do the FNOW mission of IADS eradication. That leaves the Rafale and Eurofighter, suitably equipped with standoff munitions (AASM, SPEAR), to do the OCA airbase and strategic reduction of forces. If they can get to the A2AD theater (Taiwan).

        • LEG

          Even first generation LO is not an assurance of countering this for the PLAAF because the RQ-4B Block 40 with the RTIP radar will see them (hotside from 60K+) at a sufficient distance away to make Meteor a viable option. Vs. Meteor Clone PL-21, it then becomes a matter of who has the better ECM as the standoff AEW&C asset drives the LRAAMs into acquisition cone, regardless of Chinese LO.

    • STemplar

      Because the SecDef fired the USAF Chief of Staff for not doing what he was told in regards to the F22. I would think that is probably why they don’t discuss the F22.

      Before we upgrade the F22, build too many F35s, or start on a gen6 platform, I would be a lot happier with some analysis of the combat scenarios likely, and the what we are actually trying to accomplish. Do we really need air dominance in a conflict with China? Or do we need to just be able to hold them at risk they aren’t willing to accept?

      Getting locked into traditional mind sets of what we need systems to do is what led to us wasting our time and money building the F22 and F35. The imagined conflict in the theater they were envisioned went away, and we kept building them because we didn’t pay any attention to what we would really need and where it would operate.

      Maybe we were lazy, maybe we couldn’t let go of the Cold War, maybe we underestimated what time frame China would be an issue, maybe all of the above.

      What I do know is the primary reason these photos have surfaced is because there is a new Congress about to be seated and the Chinese are looking to influence decision making. We need to pay attention to that, whether you are a F22 fan or a F35 fan or hate or love em both, the timing of the release is obvious. We certainly shouldn’t be making multi hundred billion dollar decisions or force allocations based on some photos of a fuselage on a tarmac.

      • LEG

        Very well said. There is nothing beyond ‘they are our friends’ we can do to keep China from ultimately asserting a Roosevelt Correlated Monroe’ism as economic and strategic SOI hegemony here.
        That said, Taiwan is it’s (backdoor finance and technology access) relevance to a fully stood up Chinese economy and so her remaining use her days as a stalking horse drain on U.S. military is all that remains.

    • altor


      “the marginal cost of buying one additional [F-22] aircraft has come down to (just!) $138 million, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated that a larger order of 70 additional aircraft could have brought that number down to $70 million a pop.”

    • AdvancedMan

      Maybe the U.S. already has an F-22 replacement from one of the black programs.

    • Matt

      Do you mean 700 F-35’s and 200 F-22’s?

  • Blight

    I’m pondering what everyone is saying about bombers…F111 analogue?

  • shardana

    With the exception of points 6&7 all the others can be reached in 10-15 years with the right money and organization, guaranting a superior to F-35 plane (range, speed, altitude,payload),
    The true is that to stop F-22 production was a big mistake and as soon as it is corrected better is.
    Introduce state of the art avionics on F-22 and other mainatinability improvements is the answer rebuilding the Hi-Lo mix (F-22/F-35) with the right numbers

    • Benjamin

      I got to agree with you. Most of the improvements can come from the F-35 program and therefore reduce the cost of developing new equipment for the F-22.

      I believe that the J-20 is being designed to defeat the F-35 by focusing on an aircraft with limited stealth and from what it appears a larger radar then the F-35.

    • Matt

      in 10-15 years dont u think the USAF will have something better again?

  • Guest

    Does anybody believe something as large as the J-20 could launch from a carrier in any numbers?

    Does anybody know if the F-22 final advertised price of around $140 billion included the two $19 million dollar each engines…I bet it did not. That price is not part of the F-35 either, but at least there is only one expensive engine.

    Do critics realize that if you added the electro-optical distributed aperture system to F-22 and a helmet-mounted display, that F-22 would cost considerably more? The F-35 is a bargain for the U.S. and allies, and will be capable of unparalleled night flight and support of ground operations. Any Chinese aircraft taking off against it at night would show up rapidly on both radar and helmet-mounted display from its heat signature should it somehow make it beyond AMRAAM range.

  • Maxtrue

    First, Guest has as item #6 -reliability. Sure that is very important but the idea one could compare twin super cruise engines with a single non super cruise engine on an JSF is silly. This is the obvious problem with comparisons between the F-22a and the proposed F-22b. Gates should be fired for suggesting equivalency on several occasions. Beyond sloppy. Australians, Canadians, Dutch, English, Israelis, Norwegians, don’t buy that logic no matter how much people call Palmer a Raptor cultist.

    Yes, until we are surprised by China completing much of the list Defense Tech assumes is not fact yet, we should wait. No doubt Defense Tech is right, about numerous items, but no one knows what is the real extent of their products. Here is the debate:

    1. Advanced weapons such as X series machines, hypersonic weapons, drones, Dew are going to change the fighting environment soon and renders old school air doctrine obsolete. Don’t chase Chinese trends because they’ll waste our money. It doesn’t matter they have what appears to be a stealthy fighter bomber likely capable of delivering advanced missiles (which are likely larger than the normal payloads for China). The eventual exports of these air craft should pose no problem with American counters coming on line.

    2. The political climate and failing economy will make these superior US weapons being researched now by the US delayed for decades in which a growing hole in air superiority will widen. The interim may see China and Russia acquire our secrets and catch up. A prudent move would be to start up an F-22B program and improve and increase the Raptors we have. Advanced missiles whether anti-missile missiles, hypersonic or Dew pods will likely need a stealthy platform far more survivable and load-carrying than near-term drones. A carrier version of F-22s might be prudent as well. This is the back-up should Congress retard the procurement of real game changing technology the US has been paying to develop for more than a decade already.

    This seems to be the debate.

    Let’s see what surprises the New Year brings.

    Also Guest: If Russians have supplied super cruise engines and advanced thrust vectoring, what edge do the Russians plan for the Pak-Fa? The idea here might be that Chinese J-20 might eventual be designed to get past the first layers of US defense in the Far East and stand-off advanced missiles. Obviously they think this is tactical capability will exploit our capacity to defend targets.

    Last, hundreds of X-51s would certainly freak out China. The question is whether the X-51, X=47, X-37 will materialize in quantity. I wouldn’t underestimate the desire by Republican Tea Party and Democrats to pull the plug on spending and leave us without traditional air superiority or the Holy Grails of the new age of warfare…..

    Happy New Year!

  • Cranky Observer

    Someone remind me again why the Finance Ministry of the People’s Republic of China would agree to lend the United States the money the US would need to fight a war against the PRC?


    • STemplar

      Because at the end of the day China probably has no real desire to fight the US at all. That’s a pretty major point lost on people when thinking about how we need to spend and structure our defense dollars. The defense industry in this country needs China to be the boogie man otherwise the US government might not buy the big expensive ticket items.

      To give a nod the big expensive ticket items though, we do need to procure and develop advanced systems on a certain level, because you can’t totally predict the future and what exactly we will need. If we don’t continue to develop and buy advanced systems the ability to develop them atrophies.

      Of course having said that it is ok to actually buy only as much as we really need, as well as, develop things more tailored to the theaters and fights we will be in.

    • Not-so_Ditzy

      They already have. IF we were to go to war with China we default on all the debt already racked up with China and, poof, we have a trillion dollars to play war with.

      • cs4

        And your economy will have gone to the dogs.

      • Celestial One

        China only need to reveal their actual gold reserves,,, abd poof that goes the US dollars down the drain… China does not need to even fire a shot…

  • touche

    Does this guy follow anything about Chinese military? China has been flying some quite advanced AWACS for a few years now, deployed, not test flights. No matter what you think about this airplane, ignorance doesn’t qualify as a relevant viewpoint.

  • altor


    “the marginal cost of buying one additional [F-22] aircraft has come down to (just!) $138 million, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated that a larger order of 70 additional aircraft could have brought that number down to $70 million a pop.”

  • Olternaut

    It’s too early to form an opinion. I need to see the J-20 in action first.

  • Jacob

    Here’s an idea….,maybe the the engineers at Lockheed Martin actually know what they’re doing, and maybe our Air Force pilots who train day in and day out are actually the best at what they do. And if it came to a shooting war against China or Russia, maybe it’ll be the oh-so-scary J-20’s that go down in flames.

  • jessmo

    This Unwarranted F-35 hate has reached the point of deluded insanity.

    1. Just exactly what will you replace all naval tac air with?
    How will a slow moving loitering Ucav fair any better in A2A?

    2. How can you assume that these bumpy only frontal aspect. Air craft will even come close to the all aspect F-35?

    3. wvr is a death trap for any plane. the stealthiest plane will choose the merge.
    see point #2

  • Clive

    “Air-to-air is about the guy who carries the most missiles these days”

    LOL, very funny! Good one

    • asdfzxh6


  • roland

    It’s all about quality and quantity.

  • Sanem

    the J-20 has carries fuel and more missiles than the F-35. even with less capable tech and stealth, this still gives it a serious advantage

    but UAVs will play a decisive role in air combat, in three versions:
    – decoys: cheap and expendable, these just add numbers and absorb enemy shots. they fly around the manned stealth aircraft, giving it a screen and a forward sensor/missile launch system. think an umanned Mig-21 with plenty of fuel and a few (fake) missiles. being expendable, they can also stay on position until they run down and crash (an interesting ability in a short air war over Taiwan)
    – killer-hunters: extreme stealth and good endurance, think X-47B/Phantom Ray/Taranis. these will make long flights, spreading out, using their passive sensors to find the enemy, passing on this intel and engaging them by surpise (shooting at fighters from the rear, or even crashing into aircraft carriers)
    – recon: either cheap prop aircraft like the Predator/Reaper/Global Hawk, or expensive stealth platforms like the Sentinel. these will be used to locate the enemy, and act as communication relays/mini-satellites. these can also be armed with missiles, little more than a flying missile platform

    • elgatoso

      A small correction .Global Hawk is expensive.Kind of U-2.You are confusing maybe with the Avenger,

  • Hunter78

    Earlier I wrote, “The US should find its best air weapon in lots of small stealthy unmanned jets,” which was not well received in this column. China would find this its best solution, too. I hate the idea of pretty young women chasing down F35s in comfortable gaming booths. Any country that can manufacture many thousands of cars can also mas produce these small jets. Since China should jump into this technology, we should too, to remain competitive.

  • Maxtrue

    Okay, I’ll try again as a civilian making sense of this all. You know, citizens who end up paying for all this stuff.

    1. Guest puts down reliability as his #6. IF the Russians supply super cruise with their vector thrusting the comments regarding the J-20 change. How so? Does anyone here really compare a one engine non super cruise with two super cruise engines? This is one of ERIC’s main points.

    2. Perhaps the larger payload bays represent the nature of advanced missiles that can be launched to take out incoming missiles, attack ground based air defense or even special missiles like jammers etc.

    3. Old air tac doctrine would say we have a hole in the Far East. With the Pak-Fa and future Chinese exports we may have holes elsewhere. Only if Congress continues to fund the X series in numbers, hypersonics and

    The most troubling to most civilian readers is the story we are fed. We were told for years that in the future, the air craft that spots the other first and fires off the best missile wins. Since advanced missiles are larger, the trend was for a larger air craft (than let’s say an F-16). Stealth here plays a crucial role. Unknown are Chinese radar abilities. The Raptor program designed more than 30 years ago developed a tandem team of A and B. Even by today’s standards, had we built them in numbers or at all (the B), those ancient air craft designers would reign supreme with their products for the next twenty years. This is actually amazing. Americans are depressed by the apparent fall from superiority, much by our own hands…

    It looks like others have picked up what we dropped. Some say, who cares? We have new weapons that have radically changed the picture. Is the X-47 really as stealthy and capable as an F-22 B? Do we really have the weapons that can compensate for better air defense on adversary’s part and our lack of a fighter bomber or sufficient numbers of Raptors? Remember, IF the Russians supply the engine and thrusters will the F-35 really be top gun?

    So this is what gives the Raptor controversy legs and makes the J-20 news worthy. If Congress stops the money, why wouldn’t the Raptor series be a better bridge to the unfunded future than pretending we have an alternative? Not sure why even a naval version of the Raptor (B) would be foolish. Some numbers about costs posted here are wrong. Say what you want, ERIC was pretty dead on in regards to what Gates thought about price. There are a whole lot of countries that seem to heed ERIC’s warning, though, I think the JSF, particularly the vertical take off one, is a great compliment to the Raptor force originally conceived. Makes more sense to me than the LSCs……

  • The US has a long history of developing “stealth” aircraft, whether as operational or X aircraft.
    Despite the criticisms raised in respect of F35, the F35 has been created on the back of the accumulated knowledge and experience from all those previous aircraft.
    I find it hard to believe that the first time China decides to dip its toes into stealth, that it will manage to produce a world renowned, top-rank aircraft.
    The Chinese communist ideal will put the rapid production of this new aircraft before its performance.

    • Uncle Bill

      Keeping in mind that China is now a Fascist free enterprise system communist ideals may no longer apply. The Chinese are far behind militarily, but are catching up as fast as they can develop and/or steal the technology. And their path will not be the same as ours, they are rapidly acquiring what took decades to invent the first time.

      • Not so sure about that. China’s difficulties constructing relatively basic technology like turbofan engines is pretty telling. This is the same reason that I don’t fear their fourth-generation aircraft, either; they’re an unknown quantity when it comes to quality and systems integration. That integration is only going to get harder as Russia becomes more and more reluctant to sell modern technology to China.

      • Relying on stealing technology and reverse engineering condems a country to always being behind its opposition.

        What I mean by their communist ideal is that production is everything, an upward trend is the primary concern and everything else takes second place. It’s this ideal that sees China reluctant to take obsolete aircraft out of service which would mean a decline in airframe numbers; it’s also led them to have a large fleet of submarines that don’t leave harbour; or to begin developing a carrier fleet without having sorted out the logistic support necessary for the navy it already has.
        Even away from the military, massive urban expansion has taken place without proper consideratioon of transport, utilities, sanitation etc – new developments are rapidly becomming crumbling, poluted slums as simply building another high-rise city block takes priority over proper urban planning.
        There is a well known example from just a few years back, where marine scientists studying Pacific fish stocks couldn’t figure out how the Chinese were achieving their recorded catches, until it was discovered that party officials had been falsifying data on catches for the previous 14 years in order to show healthy year on year increases as actual catches had routinely declined.
        It’s ingrained within the party culture to increase production, so the achieving the deadline for production of their new fighter will take presedence over its actual capabilities.

    • Yeah, this is one of my thoughts, as well. The J-20 has enough question marks associated with it to ensure that it’s a ways away from a true IOC. Even if China does manage to field a stealth aircraft at technological parity with the F-35, we still have a better pipeline for aviators, dramatically greater campaign experience, and F-22s that we can use intelligently to widen the gap.

  • moe

    1st rule of war is NOT TO ASSUME ANYTHING!

    Dude posting is making a lot of assumptions towards china, this might make him sleep better at night, but it is defiantly not the smart thing to do. Who knows what advances china has made, or what secrets they may have stolen.

  • jessmo

    1. By the time that both the F-35 and j-x are both operational,
    The U.S. will have both the Amraam D and the Jdram. Both of these next generation missiles will have improved PK, and range Allies will have meteor.
    2. The F-35 is required to launch missiles at mach 1.5, have a 50+degree angle of attack
    and a 9g limit (7 for B and C). I cant see the Usaf dropping all contract requirmetnts.
    50 degrees of aoa doesn’t sound like a dog to me.
    3. Block 5 F-35 will have DIRCM lasers for jamming Ir missiles.
    This system is already deployed.
    4. The F-35 is all band all aspect stealth.

    • Justin H

      F-35 is somewhat stealthy from the front, a little from the side, and probably not at all from the rear.

    • Justin H

      “The F-22 was designed to be difficult to detect by all types of radars and from all directions.[103] The F-35 on the other hand manifests its lowest radar signature from the frontal aspect because of compromises in design. Its surfaces are shaped to best defeat radars operating in the X and upper S band, which are typically found in fighters, surface-to-air missiles and their tracking radars. While the aircraft will be less difficult to observe by surveillance radars operating at other frequencies such as the L band, its design is still intended for the aircraft to be difficult to detect, to track, and ultimately to be shot down by air defense systems operating in the X and upper S band.” – Wikipedia

  • jessmo

    @Steve so using your logic the su-30 and A-10 are better than the Jx because they turn better? turning tighter is all that matters

  • Justin H

    If we show up to a fight and shoot down 100 enemy fighters in just a matter of hours, imagine what thats going to do to their moral.

  • rogue_techie

    In response to the imagine if we showed up to fight and shot down 100 of their fighters:

    Imagine what CNN will say if THEY show up to fight and shoot down even ONE f35 first!

    The american will to take casualties is about zero, realistically our morale is brittle and would not take very much of a blow to quite possibly end public will to fight in a future conflict.

    The Chinese know this, hell everyone knows this. They don’t have to build something superior when something just good enough to get a piece of a 35 or 22 in a properly planned initial confrontation will satisfy their needs.

    Bottom line is No one has to hurt us that bad at this point to seriously damage any real national confidence and will to enter a conflict.

    • ano8

      You are wrong.Bin Laden hurt us seriously and the sleeping giant woke up.

    • blight

      ~Five thousand dead Americans from OIF says you are wrong.

      The stereotype of the American unwilling to take casualties dates from the end of the Cold War. After Operation Gothic Serpent went south, American decided to bug out of everything post-Mogadishu. This perception of a neo-isolationist America lingered on until Bosnia, after piles of Rwandans died on TV. Instead, we became casualty averse. I don’t recall Republicans disapproving of limited strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan; or anybody on the other side of the aisle encouraging Clinton to take risks during the late ’90s when the opportunity to kill or capture Bin Laden was at hand. The capability was there, but the political support was not. The system worked as it should-politicians, as the elected proxies of the people should have the final say in what the country does. I’m sure the CIA could’ve done the capture or kill unilaterally, but that says something about us that is quite unpleasant…

  • S O

    “8. A robust air-to-air refueling capability (equipment, readiness, training).”

    This doesn’t seem to be nearly as important for certain missions (especially defensive ones) and certain design philosophies (such as the Flanker family, which has so much internal fuel that it was never seen with an external fuel tank or inflight refuelling probe iirc).

  • paul

    why is the right rudder out of symmetry in this pic??


  • Benjamin

    I think the bigest issue is not if the F-35 is better then the F-22 but the quantity of each bought. The F-22 numbers are to low and because of this we will lose to many support aircraft for the shorter range F-35 to be effective.

  • tribulation time

    No better defense for a superb enemy weapon what get your head under ground.
    Happy new year (meanwhile we can) roll roll roll eyes

  • Justin H

    On the whole F-35 vs F-22. The F-22 is faster, stealthier, and carries twice as many internal missile, cant remember which has more internal fuel. So for that I think the extra $40Mil for a F-22 is worth it.

  • HLJ

    Not hard to build a plane like that, especially when you are stealing all tech and schmatics from the USA!

    • Open your eyes

      It looks like no other fighter. The only part that is close to the F-22 is the head, but the J-20 has a wider head, more angled nose, and smoother side profile. However, the dome of the J-20 and F-22 are the only fighters that have no additional supporting frames.

  • Josh

    Once we get Obama out of the Whitehouse and get someone in there who is worried about the security of the US and her allies then maybe we can get some more F-22s or whatever else that may be out there that we know nothing about. I content that the US is safe for the foreseeable future. When you spend as much as we do on defense you are bound to get something for your money.

  • Guest

    It doesn’t matter what the aircraft can do by its self. It all comes down to pilot training and fighter tactics.

    • Maxtrue

      That is not the whole story. Speed, stealth, the weapons you carry play a huge role. I can’t wait for that laser cannon under the F-35, can’t you?

      • Guest

        Oh yeah, that’s gonna be the game changer right there! What I was going towards was is sooner or later, if and when they ever do meet up, they’ll get into a close in dogfight. I think we still have the edge there in terms of training and such.

      • ano8

        Thats gonna be the real game changer.

    • AmicusCuriae

      You don’t really mean that the equipment doesn’t matter. I think you mean when the aircraft are close in capability, it comes down to training and tactics. If your statement is anywhere near true, we should not have built anything better than the P-51. The P-51 would get slaughtered no matter who was driving. Maybe the F-35 will survive. I don’t see why we are taking the chance.

  • George Sherman

    Some of these posts seem to give the impression that war between China and US is almost likely, a distinct possibility . I understand the importance of detailed analysis and comparison of conventional forces but is it not naive to suggest that a limited war can occur between the 2 countries.
    Naive to suggest that such a war could resolve any political, economic or environmental disagreements, incurs only a few thousand casualties and not go nuclear against civil population.
    With less of an idealogical difference existing between the US and China, compared to that of the Soviet Union and therefore no suggestion of territorial conquest, the possibility of sustained all chips down end game war out of the question. Nuclear MAD is no longer needed to keep the peace.

    Then if total nuclear annihilation is never a serious threat, it leads to the extremely dangerous question: Can a small war occur between the US and China with out any serious long term repercussions?

    Does this mean deterrence has switched entirely to conventional weapons?

    But we neither state is letting go of its nuclear weapons any time soon. So IF the understanding that conventional war between superpowers inevitably leads to MAD is not considered to be always true now I think we must be extremely careful to remember that tool are still in place and although the political and economic differences of these 2 states may one day (possibility our lifetime) cease to exist , they dont yet. From this mad men could make war and MAD could follow.

    Infinitesimal small, never going to happen ofcourse…

  • Dave Powell

    The real issue is Walmart vs. China with our debt to them thrown in. Should China and US enter into a declared war, I believe that one of our first moves would be to default on our debt to them. I am not a lawyer familiar with international law in this area, but it seems like a sensible thing to do.

  • Tom

    just look at the points mentioned in the article and one can find out how outbalanced the raptor really is.

  • james

    Keep thir mouth close and make them

  • skp

    It was embarrassing to read this article. Of the 11 talking points/features on the J20; of course this plane has it. The Chinese have been working for years on this with due diligence and incredible intelligence gathering (courtesy of US government and US businesses) and engineering prowess. China has put people in space with a moon launch scheduled this year. This should have been a key eye opener for the West. Of course China can build a plane to fight the F22. They did and it’s called the J22. Look out world, here come the Chinese and they have an attitude. AND, they are not afraid of you.

    • crackedlenses

      No kidding. I suppose the Chinese require no prior experience and are all geniuses. Must have gotten the geniuses back after chasing them out during the Cultural Revolution…..

  • Chris M

    Did everyone seem to forget that China breached several contractors using a botnet and downloaded 13Terabytes of Data strictly on the F-35 and they did it for what reason?

    • rasley

      Items 6 and 11 from the list were of primary concern to the Chinese since most of the data gleaned was in those areas.

  • JiayiLi

    These photos are fake! yesterday department of defense Taiwan already said those photos which showed us the J-20/J-xx are not real photos some people use computer program made those photos.

  • Superior IQ

    This Chinese aircraft is absolutely not a threat to US air supremacy. In fact US 5th generation fighters, like the F-22 and the F-35, can easily destroy the J-20, thanks to their largely superior stealth technology, avionics, sensors, weapons and training and China knows this very well. The J-20 is actually designed to fight against the latest Russian fighters (SU-35 and T-50), to penetrate Russian air defenses and to attack land targets and troops in the far east regions of Russia. China has no interest in waging war against the USA and the Western countries in general because it knows it has no chance of winning it and, most of all, the Chinese economy is based on the financial and commercial exchanges with Western countries and in particular with the USA. At the contrary, China desperately needs resources to sustain its huge population and its growing economy and the eastern regions of Russia are very rich of resources and are an easy prey. In conclusion, like Germany 70 years ago, China is preparing to wage an annihilation war against Russia for the conquest of the “living space” but I doubt very much that Russia can prevail this time.

  • Doug.K

    I don’t know much about planes, but I have faith in the military and that this won’t be a threat for another 10 years.

    • AmicusCuriae

      I have lost my faith. It takes more than 10 years to field a decent performing fighter that answers a specific threat. For the past 10 years our military leadership has committed to something that is not a fighter plane, but may have some capability to be a “speed bump” for a purpose designed fighter.

  • Roland

    We need to bring back the YF-23 or a modified YF-23 with twice the speed of the old YF-23.

  • Shinsumai

    hi i have read every post the stupid one and the smart ones, there are some planes mentioned like the F 111 this looks little like it, f 35 not realy a fighter at all its a muti-role x47 unmaned, unmaned aircraft are variable to hackers, jaming and satellite missiles, t-50 looks alot like a raptor. realy point of fact look at germany in the late 1930s in to the 1940 china is move in the same way build up economy, build up tec, modernize army, next to test the new army frist will have to be tiewan, then i would anxie north keora, as far as the f-22 fighters go i beleave the next step is at the edge of space away form radar all together like the aurora project.

  • JJJJ

    #1 has to be that it has to fly. Seen it even fly yet? Nope.

  • ziqiang yao

    u take my life and i’ll take yours………………
    us beats china and china beats us……….

    what if they stop thinking of beating each other and hold hands to work on something significant?

    i wonder why us people love war so much.

    will any one of you get something good in a war? what do you get from irap? crying mother and wife of dead soldier?

    people in the world always have enemy,and so does a country.even F 22 or F 35 is so powerful that one of them can beat all weapons of china ,but someone will tell you that you have more enemies.because they want make you feel not safe so that they can: get money from your lovely Mr. Pocket and make weapons and sell them to your government and send you or your brother to the war to kill people using the weapons they make.

  • jimski

    China is destroying the USA economically, not with its military. Our Military Strategists never consider our economic positions.

    • jhm

      really? isnt China tied economically to USA, if USA GDP goes down, overall Chinese sales would decrease. Anyways, war between the two wouldnt happen in the foreseeable future since the countries are tied economically. But the chinese could export a watered down version of this fighter to Iran or Syria, making it a major threat to US allies without any stealth fighter or fighting capabilities.

  • jhm

    who cares, emphasis on “built in China” :)

  • tony

    weaponize space already and nullify these threats, we need to start thinking 50 years ahead of these jokers in every way, military, tech and economy.. this country better get its head out of its a## or its over!!

  • Concerned American

    Chinese know what they are doing. Under the disguise of civil aircraft development, they are tapping U.S. aerospace companies like GE, Honeywell, Rockwell-Collins and others for the technology. The leadership of U.S. aerospace companies keeps thinking that the technology they are giving COMAC is at least one generation old, but they keep forgetting that China graduates over 250,000 engineering college graduates per year as compared to about 70,000 in America. Additionally, the brightest students are sent to US to earn their advanced degrees, so it is just question of time when the Chinese will be able to reverse-engineer the technology and make it better. It is time for President and Congress to put the stop to outsourcing, invest in the R&D at home and sponsor engineering and science students.

  • john remy

    Imagine 1 (one) billion hungry chinese manning stone-age rafts like Kon-Tiky and heading towards Pearl Harbor to request asylum. Their leaders actually don’t need air superiority, they just have to set them free.

  • USMC1963

    What China is missing is the the ” total package”, Intergated air defense, and the true ability to project their power past a limited range with their current air-to air rfueling. We can sit back and defend most areas we need to, and pick their aircraft one with our layered air defense. Their aircraft engines have a higher fuel comsumption tham ours. With our aircraftcarriers and air to air refueling we can pick off their aircraft while they are in alow fuel state. You cannot dog fight if you donot have the fuel. This limits China’s power projection. If you cannot project your power then what good is it. One AMRAM is lot cheaper than one cheap knock off copy of an F-22 or a F- 35. You do not even have to shoot down their fighters just shoot down their limited air to air refueling tankers. Last time I checked they are not shealth or super maneuverable. Shoot down their tankers and there goes the whole fleet of fighters…..

    • AmicusCuriae

      Maybe the J-20 has a lot more internal fuel than you think. What if? Just a thought.

  • ElCoyote

    Technological superiority is not required. China will be able to achieve it’s political-strategic aims in the world if it can achieve “overwhelming air dominance” of flyable airframes.
    And the vexing part of this is that China doesen’t even need to be the either the launcher or purchaser of these airframes. All it will have to do is sell enough of these air systems to other US antagonists (Iran, N.Korea, Libya, Yemen, Syria, etc.) to overwhelm US counter forces.

    In this case the US will be forced to consider one of these options:
    1_Spend itself into economic ruin trying to counter the threat
    2_Negotiate with China on various issues on terms favorable to China
    3_Initiate pre-emptive military action prior to some determined strategic “event horizon”

    None of these options will hold any kind of appeal to US military or political planners. Alternatively, the US has the option to accelerate research into a “leap-frog” generation of new defensive and/or offensive air-space technology…and if the USA is going to do this, it had better make this committment sooner than later!

  • Morphew

    The J-20 looks like the SU-47. I think China got some help building this thing.

  • Jeff

    “As for the F-35, it certainly has its problems, especially regarding the price tag.”

    See, that’s just it. We’d be bankrupt spending pouring all that money down the development and procurement drain before the F-35 can be fielded in any meaningful numbers. The Chinese don’t have a money problem, and heck, they are paying for the F-35 program, along with the Iraq War, the Afghan War, and now, the Libya Intervention. F-35 maybe the best thing since sliced bread, but if it pushes us over the insolvency threshold, then the J-20 vs. F-35 speculation is sadly beside the point.

  • syed umair

    i found F-35 the best fighter plane

  • German Gurkha

    there is a very thorough and balanced j-20 assessment from some Australian techy (AUS AIR POWER?).
    But do Not Count beans. J-20 is a New threat. It has to be countered. PERIOD

  • lolerot

    Altough the F-35 will be not as fast and not have as many airfighting skills it is still an be superior weapon due to its bedder stealth capabilities. The russian stealth fighter has a radar cross section of 0.5 sqm compared to the f-35 which has an cross section of a golf ball. I think the chinese stealth fighter which only has some stealth features has about the same radar cross section as the f-35.

  • Henry J Cobb

    The center of gravity must be forward of the main landing gear or the nose wheel would not touch down. The main landing gear is at the front of the main wing. The canards must provide lift while flying or the nose drops. The ability of the aircraft to turn depends on the ability of the canards to lift the nose into the turn. The canards cannot support several times the weight of the aircraft. The aircraft can not make a 3G turn, much less keep up with the F-35A’s 9G turns. Hence the aircraft is NOT a fighter.

  • Milesdog5150

    Non of you blogging geniuses seem to realize that whatever military capability we say we have, or whatever project we say that we’re cancelling is just a cover for the actual tech that we already have in place.

  • Babul Aktar

    Go ahead! Ruin America. You, China is the only power that may destroy America.

  • Shawn McFadden

    Nice analysis. However even though this J-20 could be a threat to U.S. planes, the deciding factor is the experience of the pilots. Between the U.S. U.K. Israel, and other NATO allies I haven’t mentioned, I don’t think the Chinese rank very high in that regard.

  • Anonymous

    Nobody should form a opinion. The J-20 is still in operational stage. Also, analysis shows that the J-20 is most likely not designed to be an short-range air superiority fighter like the F-22. The J-20 is probably going to be a long range multirole surface attack/interceptor. This will cause the US more stress than something like the F-22.

    And anyway, unless you’re an CIA agent or a Chinese R&D officer, we have no idea about the J-20. For all we know, the J-20 could already be ready and have full stealth and air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities.

  • sorang

    Remember Chinese are pumping lot’s n lot’s of money on J20 , so i think this fighter cannot be a crap as US propaganda ,as it as a better shape and desine ..so its to early to judge J20 .

  • bob
  • Somefella

    They should revive the F23 and skip the f35 altogether

  • Doc

    They can out produce us, and will probably have unexpectedly shorter lead times (3D printing of titanium), stealing and copying our tech. Their political system is not hamstrung by party conflict. They have plenty of lives to put on the line for the motherland without our worries on casualties (26 million males or so due to one child policy exceeding females). They have material, labor and a stronger currency. As to size, they are to us as we were to Germany. Our reliance on high dollar manned platforms, including carriers, can be unsustainable in combat with an armed up China. Our economy and tax structure is too weak to support a monopolistic defense industry approach. The DOD needs to encourage more diversity and smaller players to develop these low cost platforms. Our defense contractors are all too big to fail and subject to groupthink. Low tech, low dollar, unmanned in high numbers has to coordinate with and protect our few mega-platforms and high-dollar aircraft systems. The focus has been myopic given the numbers they are capable of producing and their espionage capability. Our political system is so screwed up after Citizen’s United they can probably sway elections here too. Gridlock is beautiful for Beijeng.