• China's new Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter

China's new Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter (Photo : Twitter)

When China officially unveiled the Chengdu J-20 combat and attack aircraft last week, military experts conceded that Beijing is fast catching up on air superiority enjoyed by the United States and the latter's Western allies. The J-20 and the Shenyang J-31 have been dismissed as clones of America's F-22 and F-35 fighter jets but in the event of a U.S,-China showdown, they will get the job done.

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The J-20 and J-31 may be rip offs of their U.S. counterparts but the revelation of the "imposing" jets generated fear and panic, Wired reported. For instance, the J-20 is evidently larger than the F-22 Raptor and that means the former boasts of higher fuel mileage and can pack more weapons in a single sortie. In other words, the new Chinese jet is a deadly machine and there is little doubt about it.

And the J-20 is a stealth jet fighter, further increasing the threat of China's capability to strike at the last minute. But Wired said experts are downplaying this lethal feature of the J-20. When compared to the F-22, China's aircraft will turn out as inferior in terms of avoiding radar detection.

Experts believe that the J-20 stealthy features are limited whereas both the F-22 and F-35 are designed and very much capable to eliminate or minimize "radar signature from all directions," Wired said. The J-20 is the product of the China-sponsored hacking that pilfered incomplete blueprints of the F-22 and F-35, which explains the short falls if the object is to come up with exact replicas or better versions of America's flagship combat planes.

However, it will be a mistake or even fatal to belittle what both the J-20 and J-31 can do. China is expected to accelerate the production of the aircrafts once they enter service and buyers from Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa are sure to line up in droves. In no time, experts warned that the Chinese combat planes will outpace that of the United States' in terms of production.

The main attraction for customers is the promise that any of the J-20 or J-31 can effectively strike behind enemy lines no matter their supposedly inferior stealthy features. "The jet's real threat is its ability to use what little stealth it does have to penetrate a conflict zone and attack aircraft supporting front-line combatants, like refueling tankers and AWACS surveillance airplanes, and other big targets," Wired reported specifically about the J-20.

And produced in great numbers, which China is definitely capable of, the J-20 and J-31 will simply swarm over the F-22 and F-35 combined and overwhelm the competition. As one expert explained: "They (China) don't have to innovate; they simply have to catch up."