Another stealth jet has come out to play.
The Chinese military for the first time publicly debuted two of its Chengdu J-20 stealth jets on Tuesday at an airshow over coastal city Zhuhai.
The Chinese jet’s sleek performance and air capability is said to rival U.S. F-22 Raptors as well as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is coming online next year in neighboring Pacific countries such as Japan.
The J-20, which made its first flight in 2011, is expected to have both short- and long-range air-to-air missiles. Its maximum speed has been widely debated, but is said to reach roughly 1,300 miles per hour.
Like the F-22, officials tout its radar-evading technologies. But it may not have the same stealth finesse as its fifth-generation fighter counterparts in the West.
“The J-20 is undeniably less stealthy,” wrote Justin Bronk, a research fellow for combat air power and technology in the military sciences program at the Royal United Services Institute in London.
In an Op-Ed published on CNN.com on Tuesday, Bronk continued, “The forward-mounted canards, poorly shielded engines and underside vertical stabilizers all limit the amount that its radar cross section — which determines how visible the aircraft is to a radar — can be reduced.”
What the J-20 does bring, however, is a game-changing enhancement for the Chinese military on a worldwide stage — something that could worry its Pacific neighbors.
The Chengdu Aerospace Corporation-manufactured jet will not likely be operational until 2018.
Russia has also been swift to procure and test fifth-generation-like aircraft in light of the F-35’s initial operating capability, which it achieved in August.
Russia’s Sukhoi T-50 lies “somewhere between the F-22 and F-35,” according to Doug Barrie, senior air analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
The Russian government hopes to receive its new fighters in 2017.
“It’s about a family of systems and it’s about a network, and that’s what gives us an asymmetric advantage,” Goldfein said during a state of the Air Force briefing alongside Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James at the Pentagon.
“So that’s why, when I hear about an F-35 versus J-20, it’s almost an irrelevant comparison because you really got to think about a network versus a network.”