China Worships at the Altar of Stealth (As in Fighters and Mega Bombers)

David Axe

David Axe

Security,

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China Worships at the Altar of Stealth (As in Fighters and Mega Bombers)

If there's one thing that might hold back the JH-XX's development, it's the new plane's engine, just as problems integrating a Chinese-built engine reportedly have slowed development of the J-20 and FC-31 fighters.

The Chinese air force is expanding its fleet of J-20 radar-evading stealth fighters while also preparing to field FC-31 stealth fighters and H-20 long-range stealth bombers, the U.S. Defense Department warned in the 2019 edition of its annual report on Chinese military developments.

(This first appeared in May.)

China’s stealth expansion isn’t without hiccups, as Beijing’s engineers still struggle with certain key technologies. But the Pentagon doesn’t expect technological challenges to halt the Chinese air force’s transformation into a stealthy, “fifth-generation” force.

Modernizing the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, or PLAAF, is a top priority of Chinese military leaders. “The PLAAF, in particular, has received repeated calls from its leadership to become a truly ‘strategic’ air force, able to project power at long distances and support Chinese national interests wherever they extend,” the Pentagon reported.

The PLA’s planned fielding of a fifth-generation fighter force will bolster its air-to-air capability, adding to the air power of China’s fourth-generation Russian-built Su-27/Su-30 and J-11A, and the indigenous J-10A/B/C, J-11B and more advanced J-16 fighters.

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