China Rolls Out Its First Stealth Aircraft

The New York Times reports on China’s first radar-evading stealth fighter which is reportedly being prepared for its first flight:

But the nation’s state-run media, which called news of the tests “rumors” in Wednesday’s newspapers, sought to play down reports about the aircraft’s capabilities. And comments about the new jet’s test regimen abruptly disappeared from blogs run by Chinese military enthusiasts.

The American magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology first reported on tests of the new plane, designated the J-20, in an article released on Monday. Military analysts say that photographs of the new jet on the tarmac at an airfield near Chengdu, have been appearing on blogs since mid-December.

Andrei Chang, the editor of Kanwa Defense Weekly in Hong Kong, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that he had been authoritatively told that the jet will make its first test flight on Thursday, weather permitting.

The Time Blog also downplays the significance of the new planes:

Such stories are an evergreen for reporters trolling the military-industrial complex beat (and yes, we wrote about this stealth fighter back on Dec. 27…but we didn’t put it on the cover of our magazine).

Over breakfast this morning, a top Navy intelligence officer told reporters the yet-to-fly J-20 won’t be challenging the skies anytime soon. The new warplane is likely years away, said Vice Adm. David “Jack” Dorsett, the deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance. But he warned that such developments have tended to surprise U.S. intelligence — never a good thing. “We have been pretty consistent in underestimating the delivery…of Chinese technology and weapons systems,” he said. “They enter operational capability quicker than we frequently project.” The taxiway tests of the J-20 suggest it could be flying by 2018, two years earlier than previously thought by U.S. intelligence.

Via the Time blog:


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