Is this a mockup or not? It looks like a real version of China’s long rumored J-XX fifth-gen fighter with a pilot or ground crew member climbing into the cockpit. While Russia is developing a fifth-gen fighter, the Sukhoi PAK-FA, it remains to be seenhow long it will take to field the Russian jet. China on the other hand, is on the rise and seems to be quickly getting better and better at everything it does; from cyber war and IT to, perhaps, building and fielding fighters.
Remember in 2009 when U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said China would have no stealth fighters by 2020 while the U.S. would have hundreds. Well, he backtracked on that statement earlier this year, saying that the U.S. will have a significant lead in the numbers of stealth jets by the end of the decade. Maybe China wanted to show off the new jet to say this might not be the case? Who knows?
Still, while the airframe looks nearly complete, no one knows what the planes weapons load, engines or avionics and sensor suite will look like. Remember, in the 21st Century, it’s not just about stealth; it’s the sensors, communications and data fusion tools that give fifth generation planes a real edge.
One thing’s for sure, this will give F-35 Joint Strike Fighter backers a boost when arguing why that program is indeed necessary. It may also help stir up more support for the development of sixth-generation air superiority fighters now that the F-22 is nearing the end of its production run of less than 200 planes.
Another pic after the jump.
Courtesy of China Defense Blog.