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China’s J-20 ‘Mighty Dragon’ stealth jet fighter now mightier

Jul 03, 2023

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The Chinese air force may be closer to fielding jet fighters that could compete with the United States for air dominance. New video out of China shows what appears to be a J-20 stealth fighter with two new WS-15 jet engines installed.

It’s a low-quality video, and it never really gives a good look of the engine nozzles. So, it’s hard to verify the accuracy of the claim. If it is true, this would be a huge leap forward for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. For years, the Chinese were trying to catch up to the West when it came to its fleet of fighter jets. The Chinese government stands accused of stealing much of the technology that went into the development of the J-20.

Nicknamed the “Mighty Dragon,” it’s the only stealth fighter the Chinese have. Exact numbers are limited, but it’s estimated the Chinese had around 150 Mighty Dragons last year, which included training aircraft.

If the J-20s can now be equipped with two WS-15 engines, the aircraft will benefit from another 4,000 pounds of thrust per engine. Speaking strictly in terms of thrust, that would make China’s J-20 more powerful than the F-22 and any of the three F-35 variants flown by the United States.

However, there is more to air dominance than just flying the fastest planes. Last September, the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown said he isn’t losing sleep over the J-20 and will continue to sleep soundly as long as the U.S. continues to develop its own new jets and technology.

In terms of planes, the United States has numbers far superior to the PLAAF. The technology on U.S. planes is widely accepted as superior to fighter jets from China as well. As proven during numerous air exercises, a single F-35 can take down multiple enemy aircraft at long range without ever appearing on enemy radar; sort of a launch and leave tactic.

Still, having the ability to best an enemy today doesn’t ensure the ability to best him tomorrow. So, the USAF and the United States Navy are working collaboratively on the next generation air dominance fighter. Little is known about the future NGAD fighter, but Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works did send out a cryptic message on social media recently with an image showing an outline of what could be an NGAD fighter.

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THE CHINESE AIR FORCE MAY BE CLOSER TO FIELDING JET FIGHTERS THAT COULD COMPETE WITH THE U.S. FOR AIR DOMINANCE. NEW VIDEO OUT OF CHINA SHOWS WHAT APPEARS TO BE A J-20 STEALTH FIGHTER WITH TWO NEW WS-15 JET ENGINES INSTALLED.

 

IT’S A LOW-QUALITY VIDEO, AND IT NEVER REALLY GIVES A GOOD LOOK OF THE ENGINE NOZZLES, SO IT’S HARD TO VERIFY THE ACCURACY OF THE CLAIM.

 

IF IT IS TRUE, THIS WOULD BE A HUGE LEAP FORWARD FOR THE PEOPLE’S LIBERATION ARMY AIR FORCE. FOR YEARS, THE CHINESE WERE TRYING TO CATCH UP TO THE WEST WHEN IT CAME TO ITS FLEET OF FIGHTER JETS. THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT STANDS ACCUSED OF STEALING MUCH OF THE TECHNOLOGY THAT WENT INTO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE J-20.

 

NICKNAMED THE ‘MIGHTY DRAGON,’ IT’S THE ONLY STEALTH FIGHTER THE CHINESE HAVE. EXACT NUMBERS ARE LIMITED, BUT IT’S ESTIMATED THE CHINESE HAD AROUND 150 MIGHTY DRAGONS LAST YEAR, WHICH INCLUDED TRAINING AIRCRAFT.

 

IF THE J-20s CAN NOW BE EQUIPPED WITH TWO WS-15 ENGINES, THE AIRCRAFT WILL BENEFIT FROM ANOTHER 4,000 POUNDS OF THRUST PER ENGINE. SPEAKING STRICTLY IN TERMS OF THRUST, THAT WOULD MAKE THE J-20 MORE POWERFUL THAN THE F-22 AND ANY OF THE THREE F-35 VARIANTS FLOWN BY THE UNITED STATES.

 

HOWEVER, THERE IS MORE TO AIR DOMINANCE THAN JUST FLYING THE FASTEST PLANES. LAST SEPTEMBER, THE AIR FORCE CHIEF OF STAFF SAID HE ISN’T LOSING SLEEP OVER THE J-20 AND WILL CONTINUE TO SLEEP SOUNDLY AS LONG AS THE U.S. CONTINUES TO DEVELOP ITS OWN NEW JETS AND TECHNOLOGY.

 

IN TERMS OF PLANES, THE UNITED STATES HAS NUMBERS FAR SUPERIOR TO THE PEOPLE’S LIBERATION ARMY AIR FORCE. THE TECHNOLOGY ON U.S. PLANES IS WIDELY ACCEPTED AS SUPERIOR AS WELL. AS PROVEN DURING NUMEROUS AIR EXERCISES, A SINGLE F-35 CAN TAKE DOWN MULTIPLE ENEMY AIRCRAFT AT LONG RANGE WITHOUT EVER APPEARING ON ENEMY RADAR; SORT OF A LAUNCH AND LEAVE TACTIC.

 

STILL, HAVING THE ABILITY TO BEST YOUR ENEMY TODAY DOESN’T ENSURE YOUR ABILITY TO BEST HIM TOMORROW. SO, THE USAF AND THE UNITED STATES NAVY ARE WORKING COLLABORATIVELY ON THE NEXT GENERATION AIR DOMINANCE FIGHTER. LITTLE IS KNOWN ABOUT THE FUTURE NGAD FIGHTER, BUT LOCKHEED MARTIN’S SKUNK WORKS DID SEND OUT A CRYPTIC MESSAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA RECENTLY–WITH AN IMAGE SHOWING AN OUTLINE OF WHAT COULD BE AN NGAD FIGHTER. SO, WHO KNOWS, MAYBE THE FUTURE FIGHTER WILL TAKE FLIGHT SOMETIME YET THIS YEAR?

 

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