Home » Air » Air-to-Air Combat » J-20 vs. F-35, One Analyst’s Perspective

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

by John Reed on December 31, 2010

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.

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{ 229 comments… read them below or add one }

STemplar December 31, 2010 at 2:48 pm

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


Oblat December 31, 2010 at 3:44 pm

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


sferrin January 1, 2011 at 5:44 pm

If you think it's a bomber might I suggest an eye examination is in order? More like it's in the class of an F-15K or SU-34. Certainly not an F-111, B-1B or Backfire.


hviuc May 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm

its a chinese b-2


LEG July 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm

It's not a bomber it's a weapons cabinet or if you prefer 'missileer' but not like the F6D. More like the F-111B or even the F-14 which is itself _not a fighter_ in the sense that virtually any real fighter on the planet can easily master the Tomcat inside 10nm.
What you are looking at is similar to the 'Battlecruiser' concept which arose in the ATF program as a means to maximize high supersonics and large missile capabilities. The YF-12 might also be a good analogy here, though the J-20 likely has far more endurance at a lower supercruise point.


LEG July 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm

When you look at the distances China is attempting to project power to offshore (Kadena, Andersen etc.) it becomes clear that this is a platform intended to bring rapid base:target transit with good survivability in the combat area due to reduced observables and high performance beyond that of most 'bombers'. It is not a B-1R so it doesn't have the mixed or max payload capability but in packs, it could well prove deadly to open-ramp airpower. I believe it will also be deadly against ISR and tanking assets which dare to come too close to the likes of a Taiwan scenario. It likely has the gas to go around fixed CAPs to a considerable distance in getting at these HVAs.


Justin H December 31, 2010 at 3:48 pm

They supposedly have #6 in the J-20.


ano8 January 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Based in what???


Musson January 3, 2011 at 11:30 am

But, it’s based on Chinese copies of Russian engines that have notoriously bad service records.


AFCAPT December 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm

More like supposedly WILL have… meaning it doesn't exist yet.


Drake1 December 31, 2010 at 3:59 pm

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!


jason January 19, 2012 at 10:25 pm

air power Australia are a bunch of clowns that should be in the circus.


LEG July 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Drake, the F-35C is optimized to firecontrol bands with an FQ sector coverage of only about 50-60` centered on the nose. The J-20 has the performance, along with a large enough radome it could 'get around this' by going a little lower into the C band and using shooter illuminator techniques.


LEG July 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm

More important is the fact that the F-35C truly is a bomber, in the model of the A-12 and those wings will keep it firmly subsonic, not just in combat but in transit. Which means that it's 700nm combat radius is going to require a lot of time to cover and a 1,500nm radius (to get outside DF-21D range) is going to be brutal on pilots and sortie generation rates.


Mat December 31, 2010 at 4:21 pm

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 .


ano8 January 1, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Mat .What kind of fighters you already flew to make that analysis????


Musson January 3, 2011 at 11:33 am

Should we be comparing it to the B2 then?


Josh January 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

Uh oh, someone needs to lay off the Clancy novels.


john p mc kenzie November 5, 2011 at 8:29 pm



@E_L_P December 31, 2010 at 4:37 pm

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


Mike January 1, 2011 at 3:29 am

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 January 1, 2011 at 5:09 am

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 January 1, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Wow .who is talking


Hunter78 December 31, 2010 at 5:18 pm

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 January 1, 2011 at 2:30 am

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


Hunter78 January 2, 2011 at 10:52 am

I should hope so.


jason October 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm

The united states has a larger economy than china


dagre March 10, 2013 at 11:44 am

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 March 10, 2013 at 11:44 am

anywhere O.o


MikeW February 22, 2012 at 9:01 pm

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 February 23, 2014 at 9:55 pm

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 February 23, 2014 at 9:59 pm

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 December 31, 2010 at 5:28 pm

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 December 31, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Supposedly it has Russians engines


John moore January 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm

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 January 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm

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?


Chops January 5, 2011 at 12:12 am

BRITAIN-AUSTRALIA-JAPAN -ISREAL-those are the Allies that I personally think would back us 100%.


jamalthebanker March 23, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I think it is safe to include France and Germany in the "close allies" conversation. Germany has deployed forces in the middle east while France took a leading role in Libya – both of which saved American resources.


Guest December 31, 2010 at 8:17 pm

"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 July 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm

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 April 16, 2012 at 5:56 am

false. The J-10 is a different design, with different aerodynamic performance parameters. It's more of a continuation of the J-9 that was abandoned in 1980. China's experiment with the canards had started in the late 1960s.


passingby April 16, 2012 at 5:46 am

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


Dude December 31, 2010 at 9:12 pm

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.


AFCAPT December 6, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Comparable in size to the PAK-FA


Justin H December 31, 2010 at 9:19 pm

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 December 31, 2010 at 9:43 pm

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.


Matt June 1, 2011 at 10:09 am

PLAN are only going to ooperate J-15's off there refurbished carrier not even in the water yet.


passingby April 16, 2012 at 6:05 am

the F-35 A/B/C will most likely be useless against the latest Russian, European, and Chinese jets. It's not only a flawed design, but also a flawed idea.


Brian December 31, 2010 at 10:11 pm

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 January 3, 2011 at 5:43 pm

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


Jeff April 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm

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.


a spoon October 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm

china has a contract to only fire nukes when fired upon first and its navy is much smaller than the U.S. less than half the size.

****, people, get a grip.

whatever that's supposed to mean


superraptor December 31, 2010 at 11:24 pm

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 December 31, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Its the F-35 cult


ThunderFromDownUnder January 1, 2011 at 12:10 am

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 January 1, 2011 at 8:44 am

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 January 1, 2011 at 9:37 am

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


Jay January 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm

That would be nice
It seems that the F22 is a more capable replacement of the F15 and the F35 is a less capable replacement for the F16. The F22 can carry about twice the payload of the F35, in addition to all-aspect stealth, etc. We probably would be better off with 500 F22s than 1000 35s.

LEG July 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm

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 July 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm

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 January 1, 2011 at 6:26 am

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 July 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm

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.


LEG July 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Pyongyang is only 500nm from Beijing and the Chinese don't appear worried about the saber-rattling state of that regime. So I'm not either.
I would suggest that TLAM and aeroballistic (ATACMs with a scramjet = RATTLRS) is the best answer to Chinese DF-21D and JORN equivalent targeting because it can come off a SAG or SSN.
What you do when China normalizes her currency and everyone starts selling oil in RMB is another matter.


LEG July 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm

China is pulling an Eisenhower in terms of building her internal roadway system and while part of this is due to the rise of the Chinese automotive culture as middle class, the number of roads/rail lines as 'Silk Route II' access to Black Sea and Persian oil is too obvious to be ignored.
If the USN can control material imports for another 50+ years under/over the Sea, she cannot hostage exports without destroying the world economy and oil and other strategic resources, coming in by land, insulates PRC behind the depth of her continental backfield.

altor January 1, 2011 at 6:31 pm


"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 January 3, 2011 at 3:57 am

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


Matt June 1, 2011 at 10:12 am

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


Blight January 1, 2011 at 1:43 am

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


STemplar January 1, 2011 at 6:28 am

I would say stealthy strike platform to intimidate regional nations, and also be used as a distraction to procurement decisions we are making.


blight January 2, 2011 at 2:14 am

So basically one of those turkey projects, similar to what the Soviets used to do to provoke American military spending (and vice versa, when we did not persuade the Soviets to not keep spending on the Foxbat when we shelved the Valkyrie)


USAF January 5, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Looks like about the same size.


shardana January 1, 2011 at 10:11 am

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 January 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm

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 June 1, 2011 at 10:13 am

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


Guest January 1, 2011 at 11:52 am

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.


altor January 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm


"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."


Guest January 2, 2011 at 10:56 am

RAND's 2010 study titled "Ending F-22A Production," paid for by the USAF, estimates that Shutdown and Restart costs for 75 more F-22s would have an average unit cost of $227 million, and the total cost in then year dollars to produce 75 more would be $19.2 billion ($17 billion in FY 2008 constant dollars)..


Justin H January 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm

The only thing I want the F-22 to have that it does not, is IST, which was cut to save a little bit of money. 1 or 2 things were also cut from the F-35 to save $1.9Mil from each plane.


Maxtrue January 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm

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!


Insulted June 8, 2012 at 7:38 am

You don't have to be a American Patriot.


touche January 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm

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.


@Earlydawn January 1, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I believe the general consensus was that China didn't have enough AWACS to provide consistent coverage and absorb casualties. They'd probably also be prioritized for F-22 CAPs and airbase targeting.


INDIA July 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm

They are working for space program now ,its far more complicated then building an air fighter, i think they have achieve AWACS by now ,but they won't say it until its very necessary cause Chinese like to hide then to expose …


Cranky Observer January 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm

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 January 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm

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 July 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm

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 October 9, 2012 at 5:18 am

And your economy will have gone to the dogs.


altor January 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm


"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."


Guest January 2, 2011 at 10:58 am

Not true

RAND's 2010 study titled "Ending F-22A Production," paid for by the USAF, estimates that Shutdown and Restart costs for 75 more F-22s would have an average unit cost of $227 million, and the total cost in then year dollars to produce 75 more would be $19.2 billion ($17 billion in FY 2008 constant dollars).


Olternaut January 1, 2011 at 7:39 pm

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


Jacob January 1, 2011 at 9:35 pm

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.


S O January 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Yeah, or maybe the guys at Lockheed Martin knew what they did in the 1990's when they developed the F-22 and the Chinese knew what they did in the 2000's when they developed the J-20.

Americans ridiculed Japanese aircraft as bamboo and paper craft until they encountered the A6M in combat…


ano8 January 4, 2011 at 8:41 pm

And we finish the war with the Manhattan Project


jessmo January 1, 2011 at 11:55 pm

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 January 2, 2011 at 2:16 am

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

LOL, very funny! Good one


roland January 2, 2011 at 2:37 am

It's all about quality and quantity.


Sanem January 2, 2011 at 7:43 am

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 January 2, 2011 at 12:17 pm

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


Hunter78 January 2, 2011 at 11:07 am

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 January 2, 2011 at 11:40 am

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……


Maxtrue January 2, 2011 at 11:43 am

"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 Dew and we field them in numbers will the critics be wrong. Does anyone think Congress will fund the future now?"

Sorry for the incomplete item 3


ano8 January 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Wow .One obscure Australian Photographer knows more that a Sec of Defense elected for two opposite administrations and ex-CIA director that was a important figure in the fall of the Soviet block.Eric Palmer have a hate against the F-35 based in nothing.


Brian Black January 2, 2011 at 12:31 pm

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 January 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm

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.


@Earlydawn January 2, 2011 at 2:27 pm

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.


Brian Black January 5, 2011 at 9:10 am

If an F22 was handed to the Chinese tomorrow, they wouldn't be immediately able to build one. They most probably do not have the industrial base with which to build the computer/avionics, or the composite fuselage components, and of course the engines.


Brian Black January 4, 2011 at 7:51 am

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.


@Earlydawn January 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm

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 January 2, 2011 at 9:22 pm

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 January 2, 2011 at 10:25 pm

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 January 3, 2011 at 2:00 am

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


Justin H January 3, 2011 at 6:13 am

"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 January 3, 2011 at 12:20 am

@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


SteveM January 3, 2011 at 7:23 am

Turning tighter is not all that matters…but don't you think that comparison should have made the "F-35 vs J-20 Analyst List"? The fact that "maintainabiity" beat out "basic maneuverability" for a spot on the list shows an arrogant disdain for the reality of air combat.

And with 360 thrust vectoring and those all-moving rudderons, J-20 may out turn Su-30.


Tom January 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm

haha 360 thrust vectoring. sorry but you outclassed yourself with the last two statements.

this aircraft is has not been seen flying any exercises or any kind of a simulated fight. Please thrust the facts. Since there are no facts so far let the chinese have their 5.1 Gen fighter. I believe in training and exercises. Especially in Military Affairs the best specs are rarely the thing to rely on.

Fact on the other hand is that the US has it's 5th Gen. fighter availiable and ready for action since 6 years (more are in the pipeline – F-35). One can claim that within 6 years tech makes giant leaps but remember that 6 years since IOC means 6 years of hard training which the chinese are missing. As stated above I highly doubt that the the J-20 will be as stealthy as the F-35. The US has three or even four decades of experience in making stealth what it really means: Stealth.

Key words in Military affairs are: Reliablity, Training and Experience. Specs are generally overrated.


Chimp January 4, 2011 at 2:28 am

I'll second that. It's not the gear, exactly. Doctrine and application are what make a formidable military.

A good example: in WW2, allied forces (on the ground) were in equipment terms qualitatively somewhat behind Germany. M4 Shermans vs Panthers and so on. Guess who won the war?

The PLA know all about that, too.


Blue1 January 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Well to be 100% correct, in 1939, the Germans had inferior equipment compared to the Allies at the time, repetitive training in their doctrine and tactics is what allowed them to prevail (luck never hurts either).

Shermans versus Panthers and Tigers on the other hand is an example of sharp learning curves and adaptability. It also highlights that an Army with less combat experience and inferior tech but numerically vast with the ability to quickly replace losses can and will defeat an Army with extensive combat experience, superior equipment, but inability to maintain production

Justin H January 3, 2011 at 1:58 am

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.


Justin H January 3, 2011 at 3:12 am

Though I really wish F-35 carried up to 6 internal missiles, instead of a mere 4.


Clyde January 3, 2011 at 4:17 am

It does carry six missiles! Jesus.


Joe Schmoe January 3, 2011 at 5:17 am

It cannot carry more than four AIM-120s internally. At least learn the facts before criticizing others.


Justin H January 3, 2011 at 6:43 am

It looks like there might be room to install another internal missile-only hardpoint directly above the drop down missile hardpoint. Just have to make sure the fins dont hit.

Justin H January 3, 2011 at 6:02 am

Dont trust your video games, buddy.


rogue_techie January 3, 2011 at 11:26 am

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 January 3, 2011 at 1:48 pm

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


blight January 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm

~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…


ano8 January 4, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Operation Iraqi freedom was not based in 9-11.


blight January 5, 2011 at 10:21 am

In all likelihood not, but it was sold to Americans as national security and allegations were made tying Saddam to Al Qaeda (which were silly at the time and are ridiculous now).

All I'm saying is that the casualty-averse America alluded to is not there. Americans will fight and die for what they believe in. They didn't believe in Vietnam, so they protested. Many didn't believe in getting our feet wet in Somalia and lands like it, especially after the humiliating corpse-dragging episode. This attitude has been called "risk averse", but what it really means is that Americans saw the world as a comparatively peaceful place with problems that didn't require /American/ troops on the ground.


S O January 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm

"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 January 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

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



Benjamin January 3, 2011 at 2:39 pm

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.


STemplar January 4, 2011 at 2:46 am

Except the F35 isn't shorter ranged, it has a larger internal fuel combat radius.


tribulation time January 3, 2011 at 2:52 pm

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 January 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm

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.


STemplar January 4, 2011 at 2:42 am

It can't strike as many ground targets, has a smaller combat radius, doesn't have the DAS ISR capability, doesn't have the IRST capability, and was never meant as a strike aircraft. I'm no fan quite frankly of either the F22 or the F35, but they are meant for different missions.


Justin H January 4, 2011 at 3:26 am

Correction $30Million prices difference.


axel lars July 18, 2014 at 8:32 pm

$40M x 2,443 (the number of F-35s ordered) = $97,720M


HLJ January 3, 2011 at 9:06 pm

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


Open your eyes January 4, 2011 at 3:21 am

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 January 3, 2011 at 9:09 pm

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.


Justin H January 4, 2011 at 3:27 am

Its mostly the anti-fighter DoD.


praetorian January 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Josh, the F-22 is done. Production lines will be closed shortly, all 187 units have been produced except for a few still being assembled but might be done already. Congress had a last ditch effort to keep production lines open until 240 examples and that failed.
After the production facilities gets re-tooled or closed the amount of money to re-tool
a facility or build new would be enormous.


Justin H January 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm

The Republican controlled House of Reps will be sworn in tomorrow. They are the F-22 last hope.


ano8 January 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Remember that the Raptor production was cut for a republican government

AmicusCuriae March 21, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Praetorian is right. The F-22 is dead.

Guest January 4, 2011 at 8:47 am

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


Maxtrue January 4, 2011 at 10:44 am

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 January 4, 2011 at 11:05 am

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 January 4, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Thats gonna be the real game changer.


AmicusCuriae March 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm

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 January 4, 2011 at 10:26 am

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…


Brian Black January 5, 2011 at 9:22 am

A bigger threat to US forces in the future will likely come from Chinese designed or built weapons in someone elses hands, than from direct conflict with China.

The soviet cold war monopoly of our enemies arms imports has gone. China's reaching into Africa and elsewhere, and has the goods to sell.

Also at the end of last year, there were a couple of reports circling about weopons related arrests of Iranian Revolutionary Guard agents in Afghanistan and west Africa.

African, Middle Eastern and Central Asian states will likely be the trouble spots for the US in the future; not a full scale war with either Russia or China, yet that is exactly what many people on forums such as this are fixated on.


Dave Powell January 4, 2011 at 11:39 am

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 January 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm

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


james January 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Keep thir mouth close and make them


skp January 5, 2011 at 8:24 am

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 January 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm

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 January 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

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 January 9, 2011 at 10:32 am

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 January 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm

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 January 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm

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 January 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm

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 March 21, 2011 at 7:02 pm

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 January 6, 2011 at 2:10 am

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


Shinsumai January 7, 2011 at 9:28 am

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 January 7, 2011 at 7:04 pm

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


ziqiang yao January 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm

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 January 10, 2011 at 8:26 am

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


jhm January 11, 2011 at 12:54 am

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 January 11, 2011 at 12:51 am

who cares, emphasis on "built in China" :)


tony January 11, 2011 at 11:52 am

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 January 12, 2011 at 10:32 am

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 January 12, 2011 at 10:33 am

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 January 12, 2011 at 7:35 pm

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 March 21, 2011 at 7:08 pm

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


ElCoyote January 13, 2011 at 11:41 am

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!


tom January 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

100% correct and agreed.. We need to exploit what we have a head start on and space is it!! There are always accidents with sattellites that get launched or with rockets that get off the ground.. I mean with all the mistakes other foreign space agencies can make only our sattellites should be up there anyway.. Just to make things safe..


Morphew April 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm

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


Jeff April 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm

"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 April 23, 2011 at 4:18 am

i found F-35 the best fighter plane


German Gurkha September 9, 2011 at 10:45 pm

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 October 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

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 February 6, 2012 at 1:11 am

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 April 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm

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 May 10, 2012 at 5:56 am

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


Shawn McFadden May 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

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 June 8, 2012 at 7:37 am

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 July 23, 2012 at 7:15 pm

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 .


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Somefella December 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm

They should revive the F23 and skip the f35 altogether


Doc February 24, 2014 at 1:15 am

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.


afa April 24, 2014 at 11:15 pm



carrabba's July 25, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Write more, thats all I have tto say. Literally, it seems as though you relied

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sferrin January 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Easy there keyboard warrior. Could you give us anything specific about realistic short comings of the F-35 other than "it sux"? Nah, I didn't think so.


Justin H January 2, 2011 at 6:27 am

Post-Desert Storm AMRAAMs though only having limited combat experience, have something like a 70% hit rate. During Desert Storm they had like a 55% hit rate.


Justin H January 2, 2011 at 6:35 am

Sorry I got my numbers a little wrong. Its 3:30am and I'm half asleep, sue me lol.


Joe Schmoe January 2, 2011 at 11:12 pm

You are leaving out missile tests.


@Earlydawn January 2, 2011 at 10:36 pm

I can. Natural V/STOL limitations (limited payload and range), price tag too high to be forward deployed, and poor dogfighting dynamics.


STemplar January 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

Huh? The J20 is a fuselage on a tarmac for all we really know at the moment, and the F35 is still in development, so I'm not sure on what basis one can make any sweeping judgments in regards to much of anything about either aircraft.


ano8 January 3, 2011 at 1:29 am

And tell me ,Comrade Steven M ,why I gonna believe a Communist Party propaganda blog like China -Defense Forum and not a American company like Lockheed


Justin H January 3, 2011 at 1:54 am

You are right I am just going on actual combat figures, and not tests against drones.


Justin H January 3, 2011 at 6:45 am
Joe Schmoe January 3, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Space is too tight, if I remember the AMRAAM is 7-inches and the AIM-9X is 5 inches. You are going to cut the tolerances a bit too close, not to mention the aerodynamic problem when the doors are opened.


SteveM January 3, 2011 at 7:32 am

CDF is not a communist party hack, instead it's staffed by Americans, most of them former or currently serving US military.

Besides, unlike Lockheed, CDF is not trying to sell you something.


Maxtrue January 4, 2011 at 10:33 am

Well, you believed Lockheed's BS regarding the JSF program. It is really amazing. A Chinese carrier is preparing to sail, J-10 and J-20 spring up on the internet and the ship likker appears on front pages. No one is saying that China has arrived at the top of the mountain. Smell the coffee however please. To assume they haven't added full spectrum sensors and are closer than one imagines is actually PRUDENT thinking once the rule.

Some say China is floating this J-20 to make us resume Raptor production…lol. Yeah, make Raptor supports Chinese agents. A better idea is that they are just making sure we won't restart Raptors in the face of this threat. Then they will be more confident they have the right path to pour billions. As mentioned at the top, big items lacking in the J-20 are engines, thrusters, stealth skin, radar and even the missiles to fire. That is a long list. Now the problem is time scale for them to achieve these without stealling them from either the US or Russia.

The irony is that the US designers figured out the superior product thirty years ago. Gates says this high tech isn't needed anymore. News Flash: It is still unbeatable. The tag team of JSF, Raptor A and B is indeed a complete manned sledge hammer. These would have taken us to 2030 and beyond. It is soaring deficits and the loans from China that make the superior technology almost in our grasp (DEW hypersonics, rail, etc.) seem far away indeed. What will come first, a stealthy J-20 carrying advance weapons or a fleet of screaming X-51s? Now that is what worries taxpayers…….


SteveM January 3, 2011 at 7:45 am

If you were a member at CDF forum you would be able to see the first pics of the J-20 in flight. J-20 is not mockup vaporware like some have alleged.

I think most folks have their head in the sand vis a vis emerging Chinese capability, and it's not really their fault. This has been an intentional and explicit goal of the Chinese: to grow technology and capability at an frenetic pace, but keep it hidden until their entire network reaches maturity.

The next decade will see the lid boil off Chinese military modernization: Multiple 4/5 generation fighters, multiple carriers, sub-launched Antiship Ballistic Missiles, world-class ground forces, UCAVs…the list goes on.


Josh January 3, 2011 at 11:53 am

You're 1 for 3, and your 1 valid point applies only to the B model.


Tom January 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm

haha world-class ground forces.


STemplar January 4, 2011 at 3:08 am

So who are the bloggers at CDF? I have absolutely no intent to apply to any site that requires some sort of application process but I would like to know who they are to do some digging into their backgrounds.


Jay January 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm

The F22 in it's air superiority role carries 8 AAMs, the F35 carries 4. Likewise, the raptor carries more bombs. Not to mention the F22 will get to the target sooner, and get out safer thanks to all-aspect stealth.

The F22 is costing $200mil per place because of high development costs and low buy size. If it was bought in the intended quantities or sold to Japan, Australia and Israel as originally planned, it could cost half as much.
Oh, and the F35 is now costing about $150mil each – for a less capable plane. huh.


Maxtrue January 3, 2011 at 4:47 pm

In addition F-22Bs have even more capabilities.

Looks a bit like the F-22B. Of course many capabilities are not known. What engine and thrusters are not clear. What stealthy skin, radar etc. Short of our reaching the grails we are reaching for, seems like a logical progression.

I'm not sure how people stack this up against the J-20 or the F-22B http://defensetech.org/2007/08/13/a-day-in-the-li

Of course sufficient numbers of working X-51 might make fighter bombers irrelevant.

Also, if China is releasing these pictures to stimulate our expenditures on an F-22B, the same logic might suggest China releases info to make sure that even in the face of possible superior technology, the US will still accept questionable superiority of the JSF.

It is rather amazing that the tandem designsfrom more than 30 years ago (and let's not forget the F-23, would reign supreme were we to actually implement production.


Justin H January 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Hmmm. I think it would have an easy thing to change in their original blueprints, before they built the first X-35.


Maxtrue January 4, 2011 at 10:34 am

ship killer, that is….


ano8 January 4, 2011 at 8:22 pm

First I believe the company that made the U-2 ,Black Bird ,F-117 and the Raptor .Kinda good record, right?.A Chinese carrier made in Russia in the Cold War is preparing to sail ,but we have 11 not counting the next generation Gerald Ford coming in the next years.And I believe that the fleet of screaming X-51 are already parked in Groom Lake facility or somewhere else.IMHO a B-1R or NGB make more sense that 200 more Raptors.


Maxtrue January 4, 2011 at 10:35 am

"not prudent thinking"…..more coffee….later


Joe Schmoe January 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm

But then the Israel's, Athenians, Spartans and Greeks (Alexander) come and smash that theory.


Joe Schmoe January 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I am sure the reason was more aerodynamic rather than space constraints, but I guess we will never know.


ano8 January 4, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Eric Palmer want to buy new F-16 for USAF


AmicusCuriae March 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I don't know what you are getting at with the constant F-22B references. The F-22 was a cancelled two seater model. What has that got to do with your narrative? Some of your posts infer that the F-22B might be some deck launched version. If that is what you mean, I think you may lose your enthusiasm for a Navy conversion of the F-22. It would not be cost effective as many of its fine features would lose their edge. You would end up starting over.


Jerry January 5, 2011 at 8:25 am

Who cares what Eric Palmer, whoever he may be wants to buy. He isn't important.


AmicusCuriae March 21, 2011 at 6:33 pm

…and don't forget the company that brought you the A-12…


AmicusCuriae March 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Are you important? I'm not.


AmicusCuriae March 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Apples to Oranges comparison? I would agree with you except the F-35 marketing strongly inferred it was as capable as the F-22 because of its unique features. Maneuvering is irrelevant in F-35 world. We may find out.


Mike February 22, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Exactly what did you not like about Mat's comment? Its easy to criticize someone when you yourself have no valid argument to make.


communism is a lie October 8, 2012 at 9:55 pm

why is everyone pro chinese
everyone should stop eviscerating the proletariat and instead put down communism all the comments that make sense are put down and booed


Ljasper December 1, 2012 at 8:13 am

that suggested your name, but we aren't here for communism


LEG July 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm

To me, this means that we need hypersonic strike from a Carrier (10X easier than CONUS as FALCON and not useful to China if she hacks the data with techint espionage) to go 5,500nm in ranged rather than radial overflight. ECS to SCS buys you Shanghai to Guandong and ECS to Al Udeid gives you Chengdu to Shaanxi. Before coming back the other way, next day. It also means your carriers can be safe from JORN type targeting of DF-21D, well out into the Blue Void.


LEG July 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Ultimately, the cheapest road for us to take is going to be fully investing ourselves into robotics to beat the slave-economics system of centrist-distributionist capitalism in China. With a third world population IQ and no real industrial ethic of our own anymore, this is an obvious way to prop up our social welfare state.
It also means that we can provide rapid access to own-key nuclear capabilities to the Three Tigers and let -them- keep watch over the Dragon as a Cuban Missile Crisis condition which cannot be j'accuse laid at our door because the capability is resident in their own techbase not imported as weapons themselves.


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