Slow pace of J-35 makes Chicom J-20 more ominous
Image via WikipediaBill Gertz:
The threat from Chinese advanced weapons, including new stealth fighters and ballistic missiles, dominated concerns expressed by senior military officers at a Senate hearing this week on the military impact of delays and problems with the new fifth-generation F-35 jet.The difficulty testing the J-35 is worrisome. It was supposed to be a cheaper effective version of the F-22 which was already in production, but it is not ready for prime time and probably will not be ready in the coming months and possibly years.
Two senior officers in charge of U.S. air power voiced increasing worries that U.S. forces will not be prepared for a future conflict with China, during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services airland subcommittee on Tuesday.
Air ForceLt. Gen. Herbert J. Carlisle, deputy chief of staff for operations, said China’s rollout earlier this year of a new J-20 stealth fighter, which has made two or three test flights, is very troubling, along with another joint Russian-Indian stealth jet.
Both aircraft could be sold to Iran and affect a future U.S. intervention there against Tehran’s nuclear program.
“Those are discouraging in that they rolled out in a time that we thought there was maybe a little bit more time, although we weren’t sure of that,” Gen. Carlisle said.
The three-star general’s comments echoed earlier comments by Navy Vice Adm. David J. Dorsett, a senior intelligence official, who said of the J-20 in January that “we have been pretty consistent in underestimating the delivery of Chinese technology and weapons systems.”
U.S. military fighters will remain a pace ahead technologically of both the Chinese and Russian stealth jets. But if there are further F-35 delays, “then that pacing is in jeopardy,” Gen. Carlisle said.
In unusually candid comments on China’s growing military power, Gen. Carlisle said: “You need only look across the Pacific and see what [China] is doing, not just their air force capability, but their surface-to-air [missile] capability, their ballistic missile capability, their anti-ship ballistic missiles,” and new missiles that can reach U.S. bases in Guam and Japan.
“All of those things are incredibly disturbing to us for the future,” Gen. Carlisle said. “And again, … we not only have to be able to defeat those, we have to hold those targets at risk, and that’s where these fifth-generation aircraft come in.”
Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent and subcommittee chairman, said the Navy and Marine Corps are projecting a shortage of up to 267 warplanes in the coming years for the 10 aircraft carrier wings and three Marine Corps air wings.
It is possible that the US will have more capable drones before the J-35 is ready for deployment. The Navy is already getting pretty close on its stealthy drone attack aircraft.