Key Point: American stealth fighters might be compromised.
All nations like to claim their weapons are better than those of their adversaries (and if they don’t, it’s because they want more money for the defense budget).
But a Chinese defense magazine has gone a step further by describing how Chinese experts view the J-20 as superior to American jets in many – but not all – categories.
“While a gap remains in some respects between the J-20 and the F-22 and F-35, each has their pros and cons,” says an article in Shipboard Weapons magazine. “For example, the J-20, due to the limitations of engine performance, maybe inferior to F-22 in terms of supersonic cruise capability and super maneuverability, but its significantly larger body size gives it greater fuel capacity and endurance.”
The article also rates the J-20, which entered service earlier this year, as having a larger combat radius than the F-22 and thus less dependent on aerial refueling, according to a translation by the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office. And because the J-20 is a newer platform than the F-22, which first took flight in 1997, its electronics, situational awareness and data networking and better, and closer to the capabilities of the newer F-35.
The article also sees the J-20 as broadly comparable to the F-35, and better in some areas such as having a supercruise capability. “Compared with the F-35, whose internal weapons stores are small and which does not have supersonic cruise capability and super maneuverability, the J-20 has an internal weapons bay and a greater mobility advantage,” Shipboard Weapons says. “So not only are there no generational differences with the F-22 and F-35, but the J-20 also has certain advantages. They have the ability to go out in the offshore airspace during the war and perform the tasks of competing with foreign fourth-generation aircraft such as F-22, F-35, etc. to compete for air superiority and to attack enemy air, sea and land targets.”
While the West classifies aircraft such as the F-22, F-35 and J-20 as fifth generation, China categorizes them as fourth generation.