Chinese Communist J-20 is F-22, F35 rival? U.S. media: far from the old!

An article in The National Interest analyzes why the Chinese Communist Party’s J-20B stealth fighter is still no match for the U.S. military’s F-22 and F-35.

According to the article, even though the CCP has in fact produced fifty of the highly touted J-20s, they are still a far cry from the U.S. fifth-generation fighter now ready to go.

The official launch of the new fifth-generation Chinese J-20 stealth fighter marks a new phase in the Communist Party’s efforts to rival the U.S.-made F-35 and position itself as a rival great power air force.

Previous reports had speculated that the CCP may have built as many as 50 of them in 2019, however, statements about engine problems may have caused some delays. The latest report from the South China Morning Post says the Chinese Communist Party has officially begun “mass production” of an upgraded version of the J-20B stealth fighter, an event that the report says was marked by an official unveiling ceremony. Of course, it’s unclear exactly how many J-20s the Chinese Communist Party will build, or how quickly they plan to build them. Nonetheless, slower or smaller-scale J-20 production in no way erases or largely reduces the growing threat posed by the CCP’s air force.

Despite the ongoing debate and uncertainty surrounding the sensitivity, lethality, stealth and sophistication of the CCP’s J-20 stealth fighter, there is another challenge that fundamentally undermines the CCP’s ability to compete with the F-22 and F-35 —- and that is simply not having enough J-20s.

If the CCP has in fact produced 50 of the much-touted J-20s, it still falls far short of the existing U.S. fleet of fifth-generation fighters.

A Lockheed statement to The National Interest reported that the company has built and delivered 195 F-22s, 186 of which are combat ready.

Built by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, the F-22 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles, the Air Force statement said. It is 16 feet tall, 62 feet long and weighs 43,340 pounds. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 83,500 pounds, and there is an interesting discussion underway comparing the thrust of the F-35 and F-22 engines with the thrust of the CCP J-20 engine.

As for the F-35, available Lockheed data shows that it delivered its 134th F-35 last year and plans to deliver up to 141 F-35s this year.

However, the coronavirus (a Chinese Communist virus) has affected the F-35 supply chain and production schedule, and Lockheed officials recently told Air Force Magazine that they expect to reduce production by eighteen to twenty-four aircraft.

It has also been reported that the apparent design similarities between the J-20 and the F-35 may indeed be the result of espionage, according to a 2018 Pentagon news report on the Defense Department’s annual China report. A cursory look at the J-20 does show some similarities to the F-35, particularly the front end of the wing-body fusion and the internally built conformal exhaust. Also, the J-20 has a wider and longer lower body. However, available photos show a greater similarity between the F-35 and the Chinese Communist Party’s J-31 multi-role fighter.

Several previous reports have mentioned production issues and delays in the initial manufacturing of the J-20, particularly around the J-20’s “high thrust turbofan WS-15 engine”.