Home » News » Around the Globe » Closing the Tech Gap: China’s Spaceplane

Closing the Tech Gap: China’s Spaceplane

by John Reed on May 14, 2012

That’s right, the rumors appear to be true. Beijing is joining the United States as the only nations with reusable spaceplane designs that are actually conducting test flights. Beijing reportedly sent its Divine Dragon — or Shenlong — space plane aloft for a successful atmospheric test flight in January, 2011.

The U.S. uses its two X-37B spaceplanes for incredibly long missions doing super classified work in place, one can only guess that China’s Divine Dragon will be used for similar purposes.

Now, what’s the real news in this year and a half old story? Well, according to DT’s go-to China expert Andrew Erickson, its the speed at which China is closing the gap between the fielding of advanced technology compared to the U.S. Remember when then-defense secretary Robert Gates last year dismissed China’s new J-20 stealth fighter by saying that the PLA is about 20 years behind the Pentagon in terms of technology? The launch of the Divine Dragon less than a after the X-37B made its first space flight may be an indicator that China is closing that double decade technology gap, according to Erickson. (Notice how the Divine Dragon shown above looks remarkably similar to the X-37B? I would bet that plenty of useful info on the American program ended up in China as a result of cyber attacks — a key enabler to China’s ability to close the tech gap quickly.)

Here’s an excerpt from one of his latest analysis pieces on China’s military rise, titled Shenlong ‘Divine Dragon’ Takes Flight: Is China developing its first spaceplane?

Beijing may be entering the spaceplane era faster than many would have predicted. A similarly-militarily-relevant system appears to be emerging with the development of China’s own vehicle. Multiple Chinese-language media outlets state that on 8 January 2011, China completed a test flight of the Shenlong (神龙/Divine Dragon) spaceplane.

The test flight announcement from a Sha’anxi TV station came within a month of the U.S. X-37B orbital vehicle’s return to earth after its first test flight and come almost simultaneously with China’s test flight of its J-20 fighter prototype. This reflects China’s growing technical proficiency in the aerospace sector. It hints at China’s pursuit of space systems that can potentially switch quickly between civilian and military missions.

Shenlong’s test also reflects a shrinking time gap between when the U.S. first reveals a prototype military system and when China publicly shows a system comparable in type (if not equivalent in capabilities or immediately operational). For previous aerospace developments, China typically revealed its systems’ existence at least 15 years after the U.S. first showed its analogous platforms (Exhibit 1).

The immediate implication is that in some areas of space operations, China may be attempting to emulate the U.S. and develop advanced capabilities that could give it strategic advantages; as well as to reveal selected development efforts in order to further patriotism at home and deterrence abroad. Given the high U.S. reliance on space-based C4ISR capabilities, Chinese space platform developments such as Shenlong warrant close attention.

Exhibit 1: Gap in years between first unveiling of select U.S. and Chinese weapons systems

Now, what are the strategic implications of China fielding its own spaceplanes? Here’s what Erickson has to say.

At a minimum, Shenlong appears to be a technological development/validation program. A successful Chinese spaceplane program would have two key strategic implications. First, on the broad level, it would signify that the Chinese space program has come one step closer to being able to build a Space Shuttle-type capability. On a related note, further test flights, particularly if they involve X-37B-style maneuvering by a larger derivative of Shenlong, would also strongly suggest that China’s command and control system for space assets has become much more capable, with commensurate implications for both military and civil space operations. Which service would control Shenlong remains uncertain, as GAD, the PLA Air Force (PLAAF), and even the Second Artillery contend for control of operational space assets—and some Chinese thinkers argue for the formation of a separate Space Force (天军). Not surprisingly, as Kevin Pollpeter informs us, PLAAF-connected writers are already citing spaceplane development as yet another reason why their service should handle space operations.

Second, spaceplanes confer a number of capabilities that conventional launchers cannot offer. First of all, they are reusable and their payloads can be changed between missions. These features offer versatility and may even offer some cost savings, especially for reconnaissance missions. Rocket boosters for putting a spaceplane in orbit might cost ~US$150–200 million.

Spaceplane costs also include the spaceplane itself (with robust structure and shielding), extensive post-flight refurbishment, integration costs, possible manpower costs for flying the spaceplane, payload costs, and recovery costs. Launching a relatively small satellite with a spaceplane as opposed to on a single-use rocket may not realize large costs savings, but it is an option that Chinese planners would likely want to have available eventually.

Larger future iterations of Shenlong could materially enhance China’s space-based C4ISR capabilities through both on-board sensor systems and the ability to deploy microsatellites and other sensor systems that boost space situational awareness. Spaceplanes can also rapidly change orbits to hinder tracking, survey different areas, or potentially avoid an opponent’s anti-satellite (ASAT) systems. During its maiden flight, the X-37B was said to have changed orbits, confounding amateur spotters for several days until one located the craft in its new orbital path.

Finally, a spaceplane’s ground-based status could allow it to sidestep international agreements restricting the deployment of weapons in space and add to its appeal as a potential ASAT platform. Many Chinese writers see the X-37 program as evidence of American determination to develop anti-satellite (ASAT) capability and engage in a space arms race. At the same time, according to Stokes and Cheng, “China’s counterspace program appears to parallel interest in countermeasures [e.g., kinetic kill vehicles, as demonstrated in China’s 11 January 2007 ASAT test and 11 January 2010 missile defense test] against advanced U.S. long-range precision strike capabilities that would transit space, and are expected to be in place by 2025,” which might include the FALCON HTV, the X-37B, and the X-51A.

Read the full report over at China Sign Post.

 

 

.

Share |

{ 113 comments… read them below or add one }

Tad May 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Regarding the bar chart. The Chinese continually surprise the US media and political leaders to the upside. Maybe the US should stop being surprised and learn to expect more from the Chinese.

Reply

paperpushermj May 15, 2012 at 2:08 am

How is the Chinese craft any different from the test Models of the Shuttle program that Yes where dropped from Bombers to test the designs for the Space Shuttle? Which would place the Chinese program about 30+ years behind the Curve.

Reply

hohoho May 15, 2012 at 4:33 am

30 years ago China was probably too busy lifting 1 billion people out of poverty

Reply

WRG01 May 15, 2012 at 9:25 am

I agree completely, but would add that industrial espionage (to include cyber-theft) and the placement of of professional and technical personnel within US industry for just this purpose is bearing fruit. How does one protect IPhone tech when the IPhone is made in China? When the physics, engineering, biology, etc departments of American universities are predominantly foreign born students and cadre while American youth are preoocupied (even obsessed) with being a super star singer, dancer, rapper, actor, athlete, etc, it is no small wonder that this gap probably doesn't exist in some fields…hell, this gap may be the inverse and we just don't get it yet.

Reply

cs4 May 15, 2012 at 11:38 am

And by the way, most of the terrorists you are fighting were directly or indirectly trained by one of your own.

Reply

Yellow Devil May 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm

What does that have to do with anything? If you understand history (which I doubt you do), every nation has a shift in allies and enemies, depending on the circumstances. We were allies with the Soviets during WWII, even sending them money, equipment and material, only to face off during the Cold War. Helped supply, trade and train the Japanese during their industrial revolution, allied with them in WWI, fought them in WWII, now allies once more. Fought the British twice, friends today. Should I keep going?

Reply

tiger May 15, 2012 at 5:38 pm

And like other empires in history, our day may be fading. Spain, The Dutch, The Greeks, Romans, Cathage, The Vikings, etc. Well We have been big dog for the last 100. Maybe are fated to be the next UK?

cs4 May 21, 2012 at 5:38 am

A case of keeping your friends close, your enemies closer.

Haha May 16, 2012 at 4:01 am

Sounds like laissez-faire capitalism is working just fine.

Oh.. what? You don't like your job and tech outsourced to the lowest bidder? What's the matter? You hate the free-enterprise system? What are you.. a socialist commie?

Reply

DGR May 14, 2012 at 3:49 pm

The question needs to be raised. Are they making this stuff from scratch or stealing our tech? To me this sounds more like a technology gain via less than nobal means. Not doubting that they have the capability themselves, but can anyone remember a year in the last 10-15 where there wasnt a major breech in a firewall that originated from China or Russia? Off the top of my head I know I cant.

Not trying to underestimate there ability to make it themselves, but with all those hacking attempts it makes me cautious after reading a story like this. A 16 year technology gap is mighty hard and expensive to jump overnight……

Reply

Jeff May 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm

FYI, China has just surpassed the U.S. in generating cyber attacks this year. All the cries and hues are simply us complaining about the Chinese doing something we do all the time, only better as of late.

Reply

Vec May 15, 2012 at 8:59 am

A real honest reply for a change.

Reply

Jeff May 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Just so you know, the technologies for the internal combustion engine, the Saturn V rockets, major parts of the Internet infrastructure, our very language, and much much more are copied. I think some perspective is needed here. Also, why can't the Chinese "steal" our stuff when they've already paid for it?

Reply

Vec May 15, 2012 at 9:01 am

Right-to Man.

Reply

Nenad May 15, 2012 at 7:55 am

Chinese are quite good at cyber espionage, but I would like to point out another explanation: back in Cold War era many leaders on East thought on "Space Wars" and planned platforms and weapons for it. Remember Soviet shuttle "Buran"? It flew unmanned back in 1988, and perhaps, just perhaps the Chinese get their hands on it. And some declassified Soviet era document shows they were planning armed versions. Some of their plans were gigantic, say nuclear powered space station with rockets, something like Typhoon class subs in orbit. They also tested lasers, plasma and such with limited results. This combined with cyber attacks could explain rapid development, compared to say stealth fighter which is still prototype.

Reply

tiger May 15, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Both.

Reply

Brian May 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm

China stealing secerts from us? I find that hard to believe.

Reply

Vec May 15, 2012 at 9:02 am

More like America stealing secrets from the whole world.

Reply

warspony May 15, 2012 at 11:38 am

sarcasim duly noted

Reply

shawn1999 May 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Thanks to Senators Moron and Representatives Idiot, who graciously assisted the Chinese by not follow simple IT security protocols.

On the other hand, did they really steal? Or, since all the parts are manufactured by them, did they just put 2+2=4.

Then there's the question of "Are they really "mimicking" the X-37? Or are they actually mimicking our earliest space flight attempts (the article shows a Gremlin type harness below a carrier jet).

And what of our own space program? We've gone back to using single-use rockets to achieve orbit while they may be using a high altitude launch plane (though, in light of the Columbia, putting the crew vessel above the launch vehicle would help ensure nothing falls off and damages the crew/cargo)

Reply

dddd May 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I mean this in a totally nonpartisan way–the HASC is about to lose their minds.

Reply

EJ257 May 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Forget the HASC. The readers of DT.org are about to lose their minds =)

Reply

Joe May 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm

To Mutually Assured Destruction…been missing you since 1989…looking to be reunited and it feels so good.

Love and kisses

The US Airforce

Reply

Prodozul May 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm

They wished for a spaceplane equal to the US and out of respect they named it Shenlong (Shenron)…

Reply

Jeff May 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm

That's a fVck-face comment.

Reply

Prodozul May 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm
Jeff May 14, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Again, another FUCK-Face Comment.

Reply

KLAC May 14, 2012 at 4:48 pm

No one can take China Space seriously until they meet or exceed Western and Russian launch capability. Not even as good as ULA and SpaceX.

The X40, X37A/B goes back a decade and it is not clear what the USAF does with it the X37B.

It is frustrating that China can do a prototype in a few years after the US spends 10-20 in R&D on a program. Freeloaders.

Reply

Jeff May 14, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Freeloaders? Where do you think the funding for our space program came from? Or our military budget and ObamaCare for that matter.

Reply

Skyepapa May 15, 2012 at 12:35 am

They don't give us anything. Don't confuse paying interest for legitimate loans with gifts. Does the bank have a right to send people to take naked pics of your wife just because you sold them debt and now pay timely principle and interest payments on a mortgage loan?

Reply

Leroy May 15, 2012 at 6:29 am

depends on how good looking the wife is :D

Reply

warspony May 15, 2012 at 11:44 am

The Federal Reserve (private corporation) holds more U.S.A. debt (over $2 trillion) than China and Japan combined ($1 Trillion a piece). Who's your "daddy?"

Reply

VAR1 May 15, 2012 at 12:24 pm

As of 2012.

The Federal Reserve and Intragovernmental holdings owns 6.5Trillion in US debt.

China 1.1 Trillion

US Investors 1.1 Trillion
Japan 1T

Pension Funds 842 Billion
Mutual Funds 653B
State and Local Govt 484B

UK 429B
US Depository 284B
Insurance 250B

Reply

Laurens-Bancroft May 15, 2012 at 9:21 am

China's space capabilities are not as good as those of SpaceX? While we are rooting mightily for Elon Musk's effort to succeed, we're pretty sure the PRC has had more than 2 or 3 successful launches. We'll never understand the western world's desire to perpetually underestimate the Red Dragon.

Reply

Matt May 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Space X's rate of advancement far outpaces China's, and China has been working with stolen material for decades. The private space industry is going to leave the Chi-coms in the dust ladies and gentleman. Let's be grateful it's happening here and encourage the private industry however we can.

Reply

cs4 May 21, 2012 at 6:17 am

You'll be glad that Chinese allows only hand-picked gov't agencies using stolen materials to work its space industry, imagine the brain power that can be harnessed if 1% of the population is used to tackle the problem, makes Space X looks like Lego.

Reply

tiger May 15, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I can't take a US Space program seriously that needs to hitch rides to space & cares more about Muslim outreach than flying.

Reply

jonathan May 27, 2012 at 10:37 am

I bet China knows lol

Reply

Simple Man May 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm

The Chinese have been the most aggressive spies in the United States for many years. It is a pipeline sometimes directly from our labs to theirs.

They commit both direct and indirect espionage and have no respect for intellectual property regardless of its application.

On our side we are fat, dumb, and happy and seem to have lost the culture of national security that kept most of the USSR's intel organizations frustrated during the cold war.

Reply

Nick Tomanelli May 14, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I don't know about happy. People seem to hate whatever the government does these days, and not focus on the "good." People are so busy shouting "down with the man" that they've failed to notice the Chinese picking their pockets.

The fact that they're still unveiling clones of tech we developed a year after means that they don't have the tech leg up on us yet. When they unveil something like his before us, that will be bad news.

Reply

Vec May 15, 2012 at 9:05 am

Cant u be honest to yourself that China has developed its own technology and U.S. is no longer No 1.Wake up instead of deluding yoself.

Reply

tiger May 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm

No, Americans think they are the only folks in the world still.

Reply

cs4 May 15, 2012 at 11:52 am

I wonder what happened to the intellectual properties of rocket technology the Germans created. Did the Americans pay royalties? What about the axial flow turbine engines? The Brits patented the centrifugal flow units. How about the biological/chemical warfare agents/processes the Japanese discovered/created? Where are the licenses to manufacture/use?

Reply

shawn1999 May 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Simple- the Germans lost the right to that tech when they started killing the scientists because of their faith. Before WWII, Germany had a lock on inventions and Nobel prizes. During/after that moved to the US. Berlin could have easily replaced DC as the main world powerhouse had it found a way out of debt without persecuting Jews, Gypsies, and Blacks

Reply

cs4 May 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm

And who claimed the right? Never heard the German people given back the rights nor were paid for it.

Reply

scott December 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm

They lost all rights to the technology when they lost the war. The US captured as many German engineers as they could and payed the very well to help man get on the moon among other thing. Thus is the spoils of war.

Matt Holzmann May 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm

having done business in China for 35 years and watched the wholesale expropriation of technologies one after the other I will be happy to point out the specifics.

China is building upon existing technologies, but will borrow or steal anything they want. The is simply no culture of intellectual property.

Reply

Haha May 16, 2012 at 4:06 am

Unfortunately, what Lenin prophesied is coming true: The capitalist will sell the rope to the one that will hang him.

Reply

Pete May 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm

i don't see all the fuss about this…..

"The basic technology for a reusable space plane is half a century old"
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/02/why-the-r

Reply

TLAM_Strike May 14, 2012 at 7:09 pm

The photo of this Chinese space plane showed up about four years ago.

Not sure if its launched from the Long March rocket as the article suggests. The photo shows it hanging off a BADGER bomber, that could be its deployment system. It might be to lift micro payloads in to LEO like the Pegasus.

Reply

Mitch S. May 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Safe to guess espionage has helped China imitate some of our systems.
But I'll venture to guess that the greatest benefit China gets from its spying is not knowing how we make our stuff so they can counter it, but knowing the capabilities of our stuff so they can counter it by other means.

For example if I were trying to counter the F22 and knew the capabilities of its stealth, weapons etc, instead of copying it I could focus on improving the sensing abilities of my 4th gen planes and building lots of them (and w/o stealth they can carry more weapons).
I might "borrow" some stealth tech to make a bomber/interceptor to penetrate airspace but wouldn't try to make a fighter much less a CAS platform out of it…

Reply

Vec May 15, 2012 at 9:06 am

China is making its own stuff independently .Stop deluding yourself.

Reply

cs4 May 15, 2012 at 11:56 am

Yeah, and the Americans invented the Chinese cuisine.

Reply

blight_ May 21, 2012 at 2:06 am

China stole shumai from America.

Reply

passingby May 21, 2012 at 2:38 am

and chopsticks, Tofu, soy sauce, … etc

Matt May 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm

your posts are quite interestingly delusional. Elon Musk is going to leave the Chinese far behind in the race to the stars, chuckling at the Chinese population's inevitable frustrated, nationalistic and juvenile response as they are increasingly unable to compete with true innovators.

"SpaceX, in terms of launches awarded, is the world leader in space launch, we’re beating the Russians, the Chinese, the Europeans, everyone." Elon Musk

I can feel how irate you are, reading this, knowing that despite all of China's best efforts to prove otherwise, the United States will continue to be the source of the worlds best and most groundbreaking innovations.

Reply

passingby May 21, 2012 at 1:36 am

You are sounding like the US space program has always been the best even though it's anything but. First the US got beat by the Soviets. Then it enlisted help from Nazi scientists, engineers, and technicians. When that wasn't enough, it purchased technology wholesale from Yugoslavia. Do you know what percentage of NASA's engineers and scientists were foreign born or foreign descendants during the 60s – the 80s?

Reply

sciencerules December 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I'm sorry I can't hear you over the American flag on the Moon. How many Soviet robots are on Mars? Oh yea thats right, the USSR doesn't exist anymore.

gazza July 12, 2012 at 11:27 am

You buddy are either utterly delusional or just trolling.

Reply

tiger May 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm

What is there to counter? Our planes gas their own pilots & crews.

Reply

Lance May 14, 2012 at 8:53 pm

More fear mongering from the China is going to kill us crowd. I think our X-37 is bigger more complex and is better than the TU-16 towed Dragon which looks very small and alot lower tech than the X-37 is.

Reply

Vec May 15, 2012 at 9:05 am

Carry on dreaming

Reply

Brian May 14, 2012 at 9:01 pm

You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance.

Reply

4FingerOfBourbon May 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Maybe china should get their own fucking tech…..

Reply

Jeff May 14, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Maybe you should balance your fUCKING budget!

Reply

Josh May 14, 2012 at 9:49 pm

We can't expect the Chinese not to steal our tech if we let them. The problem is on our side not theirs.

Reply

Mastro May 15, 2012 at 9:25 am

Yeah some IT security would be nice- I got a feeling they USB our plans out an hour after we make them.

Reply

SamIAm May 14, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Yes yes a few pictures and we are comparing its abilities to ours, which we don’t even know what it does. How can yallll make some of these claims, do y’all know something about this plane then I do? Besides I might be wrong, but I bet it is the same as every other Chinese knock off I buy

Reply

Vec May 15, 2012 at 9:07 am

Carry on dreaming and deluding yourself.

Reply

Riceball May 15, 2012 at 11:17 am

There's a world of difference in knockoff Chinese consumer good and knockoff Chinese military hardware. With consumer goods I don't think that they really care all that much about quality control, it's all about cranking out as much stuff for as cheaply as possible in order to maximize profits. With military hardware I'm sure that their quality control is much higher since it's being made to be sold to the masses but for the military and I'm sure that there are far more serious consequences for producing a shoddy product when working for the government/military than there is for the civil sector.

Reply

Thomas L. Nielsen May 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm

On that note, I recently spoke to a gentleman who was formerly of the Romanian army, back in the good old days during the Cold War. He said that the Warsaw Pact quality management was much better than NATOs:

According to NATO quality management, if a contractor delivers substandard materiel, or delivers late, the contractor is financially penalized.

According to Warsaw Pact quality management, if a contractor delivers substandard materiel, or delivers late, the managing director and the QA manager are shipped off to Siberia.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

Reply

shawn1999 May 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Yeah, I'll bet they don't have to worry about cost overruns or missed deadlines. Project Managers who do end up in the coal mines (which have worse safety than ours did in the 30s)

Reply

tiger May 15, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Nor do we know what a X-37 does???

Reply

ski May 14, 2012 at 11:26 pm

How old is the SR-71 blackbird? No comment. Does any one play poker? Hint.

Reply

Dfens May 15, 2012 at 7:26 am

Does it matter? We cannot design a new SR-71. Aircraft like that aren't designed by committee.

Reply

Nick T. May 15, 2012 at 10:50 am

They're designed by necessity. Like the space shuttle. Granted, seeing as paranoia≈necessity during the Cold War, views got a bit skewed. Nonetheless, the SR-71 was a marvel of a bird.

Reply

Dfens May 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Yeah, go ahead and just pull one out of your ass the next time you need one.

Reply

Nick T. May 16, 2012 at 10:12 am

It's just my PoV. If there's something wrong with it please tell me. The US need (wanted?) a reusable vehicle, so they built the space shuttle. U-2 gets shot down, they build a Super Sonic Spy-plane. I know there's more to it than that, but if there are more important fact it missed, do share. Unlike some people how frequent here, my views are flexible.

Pat May 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm

It goes back to the LBJ days (64-68) when it was called the A-12 or YF-12. It operationally flew in 1964. I remember when it came out. It still would be state of the art if still flying.

Reply

cr9527 May 15, 2012 at 1:01 am

are you guys discounting the age of the space shuttle?

ShenLong, if similar to the SS, will be 30+ years behind…

Reply

Mzungu May 15, 2012 at 1:13 am

Without some good data and real facts, the analysis is nothing but data manipulated by the writer to fit his narrative. The graph is just plainly misleading.

The Space Shuttle(a space plane) pre-dates the Chinese space-plane at least by 20-30 years. That's not counting X-15 or the like. There is a huge difference between delivering a "grapefruit" size payload to orbit than what x-37 may be capable of. For all we know the Chinese space-plane may just be sub-orbital.

Also, nuclear submarine is more like 20 years not 16(1954 for nautilus vs. 1974 for Type 091). The author needs to look beyond the hulk of a vehicle to really analyze the capabilities. Remember the vacuum tubes in the Mig-25?

Beyond that I think they are another 10 years behind in experiences. US have been fighting one war or another every decade or so since WWII, the operational experiences and practices is really what is going to win those wars, it's not just gadgets, but how the man use those gadgets. Not that, both Ho Chi Minh and Kim Il-sung can hold off USA pretty much with bamboo sticks and the right political strategies.

Reply

SamIAm May 15, 2012 at 3:40 am

Mzungu I agree with you I would like to point something out regarding the mig. Yes still had tubes but I beg the question if nucler bombs did drop and the emps followed who’s planes would still be flying

Reply

Thomas L. Nielsen May 15, 2012 at 5:17 am

Also, when the MiG-25 radar system was created, vacuum tubes could handle bigger power loads than transistors, and the MiG-25 radar was designed to burn through the jamming from the B-70's (and later the SR-71's) ECM suit by brute force.

So yes, the MiG-25 radar used vacuum tubes, and it wasn't neat, pretty, modern or sophisticated, but it got the job done.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

Reply

tiger May 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Love that KiSS principle.

Reply

TrustButVerify May 15, 2012 at 7:42 am

The USAF for certain, by dint of having been designed to do so.

Reply

Dfens May 15, 2012 at 7:23 am

A 20 year gap between the US and China would be significant if it didn't take us 20 to 30 years to field new aircraft or armored vehicles. But let's continue to pay so called "private companies" billions more if they fail than we pay them if they produce successful weapons on time and on budget and then marvel at the mystery of why new weapons take so long and cost so much. Let's always pay our defense contractors $1.10 for every $1.00 they spend designing new weapons, because damn what a great approach to contracting that has been. Why ever go back to what worked during the Cold War when we have a winner system like that one.

Reply

Matt May 15, 2012 at 10:13 am

Nick the people are saying down with the man because the man picked our pockets to protect us from these threats. The man sat on his ass and developed welfare programs instead.

Reply

Nick T. May 15, 2012 at 10:57 am

There's a reply system for a reason. I'm not denying that the government and Wall St. have been taking more than their share (And accidentally the economy) for their purposes, but something tells me that Chinese invasion of US was the last thing on occupy's mind. Plus, if one should got to DoDBuzz, there are articles almost daily on how buggered the acquisition system is, and the many plans on how to try and fix it. After all, bad acquisition has cost the US more than anything.

Reply

Dfens May 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm

The Department of Defense has become the clearning house for corporate welfare. They write the checks that make the $25 to $30 million dollar salaries of Boeing and Lockheed's CEO's possible. If they worked for the government, they could never make a salary like that, but they can sure empty the tax coffers quickly as "contractors". And they are worth every penny, naturally.

Reply

Haha May 16, 2012 at 4:13 am

The 'man' spent over a trillion dollars to invade and occupy a POS dump in Iraq when it was the AQs in Afghan/Pak region who attacked us on 9-11. Instead of our guys being greeted in Iraq with flowers and candy, they got greeted with IEDs. We spent ten years doling out reconstruction aid to people in Iraq who hate our guts. The whole time we were jerking off in Iraq, we neglected China who have risen to the second largest economy in world. The 'man' did not protect us from real threats, and ignored the economic threat. That is why people are pissed.

Reply

Robert Norwood May 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Jeezus, with all the time and effort they spend stealing our information they ought to be able to close the gap. As for the plane being smaller remember, they're smaller.

Reply

Simple Man May 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm

The Chinese work in the same manner as the Russians, only with greater stealth and effectiveness. They got the plans for the W-84 nuclear warhead somehow and leapfrogged their existing technology.

Reply

Dfens May 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm

The J-20 shows that the Chinese do not work like the Russians. The Russians followed whatever we did without regard to whether it had merit. The fact that we thought it had merit was enough. The Chinese seem to be much better at filtering the crap out and keeping the information that is relevant and useful.

Reply

Restore Palestine June 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Simple Man, which country rocketed a satellite into the space first, the Russians or Americans? Which country put a man in space first, the Russians or Americans?

And what evidence do you have to show that the Russians (and the Chinese) copied America's nuclear warhead? (Brainwashing propaganda from US media such as CNN or Fox don't count as evidence)

Reply

Jim May 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Haven't we, as a country learned anything regarding how we view other countries? As I recall, we pretty much said the same thing about the Soviet Union AND Russia; yet who was the first into space with a satellite? Soviet Union/RUSSIA! Our "brains" said "oh, Russia won't have a nuclear weapon for years–Riiiight. Exploded one, what a year or two after ours? What is it going to take for our "brains" and "leaders" to actually WAKE UP and acknowledge that we do not know everything nor do we have the sole handle on any technology? Add to this, how about keeping SECRETS Secret.

Reply

Hale May 15, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Americans do have the uncanny ability to think they're superior to everyone else, then again, we do generally come out as the winners.

'Winners keep winning', boy, that thought almost sounds dangerous. Hope that's not embedded in our national policy, especially in this changing, multi-polar world.

Reply

cs4 May 21, 2012 at 5:57 am

But you do pick fights that you think can be won easily, otherwise you had already bulldozed North Korea and Iran.

Reply

tiger May 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Yes, Let's start by Standing one Private Bradley Manning before a firing squad. When is that prick going to trial anyway? The wheels move damn slow in this administration.

Reply

Craig May 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Seriously? Do you all really believe that all their tech is stolen? You probably also don't believe that we do the exact same thing. How many strategic assets have we lost one way or another spying or playing world cop in another Country? Then we actually get mad when that Country refuses to return our tech! Really? What about all the advanced weapons systems we sell to other Countries that are our ally today, but maybe not tomorrow? It's happened over and over again in the middle east. Not only that, but China can freely or not so freely (use a proxy) in some cases to just buy that same tech on the market. Seriously why do we sell our military tech to other Countries. My favorite stupid idea! Selling weapons systems or weapons of any kind to Taiwan!! Taiwan regardless of any rhetoric is as much a part of China as Hawaii is part of the United States. The people in Taiwan are not Taiwanese. (no such thing) They are Chinese. Relations between Taiwan and the mainland have been steadily improving. Some day our government geniuses are going to wake to their "Oh chit moment" that all that tech we sold to Taiwan is in China. Do you really think China's anger at us for selling weapons to Taiwan is genuine? Sure they can put on a good front and even take some actions to appear genuine while at the same time already having people in place in Taiwan to at minimum give them full access

Reply

tiger May 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Everybody has spies. Even our "allies."

Reply

passingby May 21, 2012 at 2:00 am

Craig, write this down: War is a racket.

You also need to know 3 different groups of people in the US – the money masters, the puppets (govt officials, the media), the sheeple (from sheep + people) in this weapons + narcotics sales business (the most important business to the US).

Reply

Haha May 16, 2012 at 4:04 am

More tech and manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to China in the last decade of GWBush than under Clinton. It was done in the name of the free-enterprise system and 'capitalism'. How do you like laissez-faire capitalism now?

Reply

butte Sailor May 16, 2012 at 9:17 am

In a communist state the media is controlled by the government, if they say it exists it exists, most news is for internal consumption i.e. look how good we are doing. Its like life in the navy 35 years ago if its painted and the brass shines it works.

Reply

passingby May 21, 2012 at 2:02 am

you've been thoroughly brainwashed by the US propaganda apparatus.

Reply

blight_ May 21, 2012 at 2:05 am

People who have shepherds for their news are sheep, no matter who writes the copy.

Reply

butte sailor May 16, 2012 at 9:18 am

Chicken Little Syndrome no the sky is not falling . In a communist state the media is controlled by the government, if they say it exists it exists, all news is for internal consumption. The Chinese has had 3 manned space flights from 2003 this is with using some Russian technology and computers. Conversely, in the same number of years The U.S. completed 2 space projects, Mercury and Gemini and landed men on the moon with the Apollo project using slide rule technology . If the Chinese want to use a space plane maybe they will book some seats from Virgin galactic

Reply

ralph lauren polo May 21, 2012 at 6:26 am

polo shirts for women [url=http://www.polooutletcool.com/]polo outlet[/url] cheap polo shirts [url=http://www.polooutletcool.com/#1553]polo outlet[/url] polo shirts for men http://www.polooutletcool.com/#3367

Reply

madmemere May 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Get serious – -"Are the Chinese stealing our US technology"? They don't HAVE to steal it – -Clinton and obama-soetoro have been "giving" it to them, right along! To paint a more "realistic picture" – -China has been dedicated to building it's "military might", for more than two decades; if you "wonder what their objective is", wonder no longer. Their plan, all along, has been to "take over the USA" and anyone else they can!

Reply

HIA July 7, 2012 at 2:37 am

No way China can overtake USA in technology!!

Reply

blight_ July 7, 2012 at 11:46 am

I'm sure nobody thought the fractious German states would unify into Prussia and then Germany; or that Britain would rule the world for a thousand years, or that Japan could never adopt the ways of the west because they were too Asiatic for modern technology.

Reply

Genghis September 3, 2012 at 11:49 pm

You all forget that the Father of Pasadena's JPL was a Chinese who was also the Father of China Space Program.

Reply

Haha May 16, 2012 at 4:15 am

Yeah 'cause the sitting Pres spent the last decade wasting our manly poo in Iraq instead of focusing on China.. oh wait… it was THAT sitting President 'Mission Accomplished' Bush.

Reply

cs4 May 21, 2012 at 5:51 am

Now I know why so many Americans are overweight, it must be China having stolen everything all that is left are hotdogs, hamburgers, potato chips, and junk foods.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: