A Chinese aerospace manufacturer on the weekend released high-resolution images of what could be China’s second stealth fighter.
For months, Shenyang Aircraft Corp (SAC), one of China’s principal aerospace firms, has been rumored to be working on the prototype of a stealth aircraft known as the J-21 “Snowy Owl.” This first came to the attention of defense analysts after a video surfaced in late June showing an aircraft fuselage covered in camouflage tarp being transported on a highway from SAC to a People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) test center at Xian-Yanliang Airbase in Shaanxi Province, Defense News reported at the time.
Although experts cautioned that the video and images in June could have been part of a disinformation campaign, the crisp images of the dark-gray prototype serial “001,” posted on China Defense Blog on Saturday, appeared to provide confirmation that rival Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corp, which unveiled its J-20 less than two years ago, was no longer the sole player in China’s efforts to develop stealth aircraft. To date, two J-20 models have emerged and it is believed that the aircraft, which has encountered various delays mainly due to China’s engine technology “bottleneck,” will not be deployed before 2017 to 2019.
So far, there has been no confirmation that the covered fuselage seen in June and the prototype that emerged at the weekend are the same aircraft.
Defense experts remain divided on whether the J-20 and J-21, which outwardly have a similar appearance, with two engines, two tails and radar-evading design, would serve similar functions. However, preliminary image comparisons indicate that the J-21 is smaller than the J-20.
Some military analysts say that the PLAAF has been seeking more than one type of stealth aircraft, including a strike fighter and another serving as an air superiority fighter.
There has also been speculation that the J-21, which is sometimes referred to as the J-31, could serve as a carrier-based stealth complement to the non-stealthy J-15 “Flying Shark,” or as an export model, known as the F-60, to compete against Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35.
Writing in Wired yesterday, defense analyst David Axe said that the emergence of the new prototype did not immediately imply that both the J-20 and J-21 will go through the development, testing and full-scale production phases. The US Air Force stealth program, he wrote, gave rise to no less than four stealth fighter prototypes in the 1980s, of which only two — the F-22 and F-35 — were eventually adopted, following billions of dollars of investment.
It is not unusual for China to play one defense program against another as a means to increase competition and encourage innovation. Despite the huge costs involved, a now richer Chinese military could also be more inclined to fund two or more stealth programs if the aircraft are intended to serve different purposes.
ATTACK UNLIKELY: China would become ‘pariahs internationally for just the wanton destruction of Taiwan’ and would have little to gain from it, Trump’s security adviser said A top White House official on Friday urged Taiwan to build up its military capabilities to protect against a possible invasion by China, saying that Beijing would have that ability in 10 to 15 years. US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told the Aspen Security Forum that a missile attack by China against Taiwan would be much too destructive. An amphibious attack is a possibility, although at the moment it is beyond China’s capability, he said. However, China could combine that threat with “gray zone” operations, embargoes, harassment and other actions to intimidate the nation if Taipei does not build
TAKES THE CAKE: Chinese diplomats tried to take photographs of people attending a National Day event in Suva, before reportedly assaulting a Taiwanese diplomat The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday condemned the Chinese embassy in Fiji over a fracas at its Double Ten National Day event at a Suva hotel, while a lawmaker demanded that the ministry file a lawsuit against Chinese embassy personnel for injuring a Taiwanese diplomat at the event. The Grubsheet news blog on Sunday and New Zealand-based Asia-Pacific Report Web site yesterday reported that two members of the Chinese embassy in Suva tried to force their way into a celebration held by the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji at the Grand Pacific Hotel on Oct. 8 to take photographs of
TAIPEI REACTIONS: Joanne Ou decried China’s ‘gangster diplomacy,’ while MOFA said its Fiji counterpart dealt fairly with the incident and protected the trade office’s rights The world should denounce the actions of Chinese embassy staffers in Fiji against a Taiwanese diplomat during a National Day celebration in Suva, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday as it thanked the Fijian government for its help after the Oct. 8 incident. Two Chinese diplomats tried to force their way into a celebration held by the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on Oct. 8, and a Taiwanese diplomat who tried to stop them taking photographs suffered a head injury. MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a news briefing that the ministry
TIT FOR TAT? Messages sent through channels have urged Washington to drop its prosecutions of Chinese researchers or see Americans put at risk Chinese officials warned their US counterparts as early as the summer that they might detain Americans in China if the US does not stop prosecuting Chinese academics linked to the Chinese military, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Saturday, citing people familiar with the matter. China sent repeated warnings through multiple channels, including the US embassy in Beijing, the report said. The message has been blunt: The US should drop prosecutions of the Chinese academics in US courts, or Americans in China might find themselves in violation of Chinese law, the newspaper cited sources as saying. The US has charged several