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US Fears Losing Air Superiority To China By 2035; Not J-20 Fighters, But Bothered By PLAAF’s Real ‘Mighty Dragon’

beijingwalker

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US Fears Losing Air Superiority To China By 2035; Not J-20 Fighters, But Bothered By PLAAF’s Real ‘Mighty Dragon’​

BySakshi Tiwari

February 21, 2022

The rapid growth of China’s military capabilities has created ripples in the American security establishment, which fears that the PLA Air Force could be on its way to seriously challenge the US’ air superiority by 2035.

General Charles Brown Jr., the US Air Force’s chief of staff, said that the PLA had “the largest aviation forces in the Pacific” and had created them “underneath our nose” during an Air Force Association conference in September last year. Brown had stated that China would have surpassed the United States’ air superiority by the year, 2035, VOA News had reported.

Another top military official, Lieutenant General S. Clinton Hinote, Deputy Chief of staff, warned that the US was falling behind China’s progress. “In a few important areas, we’re behind…This is not a tomorrow problem. This is a today.”

The Pentagon brass has been openly admitting the progress of the Chinese PLA for some time now. Recently, Congressional Research Service’s revised report said that China has the biggest naval fleet in the world. The report explicitly admitted that the Chinese Navy seriously threatened the US Navy’s control of the Western Pacific.

However, the open admission about the challenge to its air superiority by the top officers of the US Air Force was significant. The US Air Force is equipped with the most advanced and lethal stealth fighters in the world — the F-22 Raptors and the F-35 Lightning II.

It also has the best dogfighters in the form of F-15EX and the most popular, F-16 Falcons. Despite the prowess of its air fleet, Hinote had then told reporters that as someone who was familiar with evidence at all classification levels, he believed China had caught up to the United States’ airpower capabilities, and that “the light is blinking red”.

Further, in an interview with the Air Force Magazine, Hinote had predicted that the F-22 would be phased out around 2030 (the exact date is to be determined by the scenario) and that the Next-Generation Air Dominance fighter will be needed soon to counter a Chinese stealth aircraft and missile threat that is “closer than we think”.

Air Force chief General Charles Brown Jr had said that the service was planning to wind down its fleet from seven types to “four plus one”. He said the F-35, F-15EX, late-model F-16s, and the NGAD family of systems will make up the future fighter fleet, with the A-10 serving as the “plus one”.

Further, VOA News analyzed that Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall mentioned China 27 times in his speech at the AFA conference. He only referenced Russia once and Afghanistan three times, in comparison.

This clearly indicates that the US military is deeply concerned about PLA’s rapid pace of modernization, which could seriously challenge America’s air superiority in the near future.

Is J-16 A Bigger Threat Than J-20?

“They’re putting together packages of fighter aircraft, the J-16 in particular, flown in large numbers. And that’s a relatively new capability,” said Eric Heginbotham, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Center for International Studies.

“They’re putting complete packages together. They’re also sending anti-submarine warfare aircraft up. So, they’re showing a lot.”

He was referring to a spectacular display of military strength wherein China flew about 150 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, including its most advanced J-16 fighters and H-6 bombers, said VOA News. Beijing sees the self-governing island as a breakaway province and wants to reunite it with the mainland, if necessary by force.

0

Shenyang J-16

It is intriguing that US experts have taken note of the Shenyang J-16 aircraft while China projects J-20 stealth fighters as its most potent and lethal combat aircraft.

Taiwan has accused China of escalating its “gray zone tactics” and sending its aircraft to violate its airspace repeatedly since 2020. The most frequent visitor to its airspace is the J-16 fighter jet.

China deploys its J-16s to irritate its adversaries. Earlier this month, the PLA Western Theater Command Air Force simulated aerial confrontations with warplanes, notably J-16 fighter jets, in a series of drills carried out to send a message to rivals — Japan and the US.

Last month, China deployed 39 warplanes, including 24 J-16s, into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), largely fighter jets, in its second-largest single-day invasion, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense.

Chinese analysts have referred to the J-16 as a core element of the PLA Air Force. A flying instructor at the PLA Northern Theater Command Air Force, Wang Songxi, earlier said that China’s J-16 multi-role fighter jet is flawless and is much superior to other similar aircraft including, the Su-30.

The J-16, which first flew in 2004, is equipped with modified AESA radar and can perform both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations.

article_5b718bc0585696_45986449.jpg

J-16D (via Twitter)

The latest variant, the J-16D, is a dedicated electronic warfare aircraft. The J-16 is itself an improved version of the J-11 air superiority fighter, which China had developed in the 1990s based on Soviet-origin Su-27.

Each wing of the J-16D has an electronic warfare pod, and the plane’s body is studded with antennas. It is widely believed that the fighter is equipped with an active electronically scanned radar array (AESA).

On the other hand, the J-20 is a fifth-generation stealth combat aircraft. Previous reports had indicated that the J-20s were deployed to monitor the Taiwan Strait and the East China Sea.

This year, China will begin upgrading the engines of its most sophisticated stealth fighter jet to get it closer to the performance of the American F-22 Raptor. A Pentagon report also mentioned that the Chinese are adding a thrust-vectoring nozzle and an F-22-like “supercruise” capability with the installation of indigenous WS-15 engines.

8d575c827c4a021bbcb529e2d49ecfe6.jpg

File Image: J-20
Last month, the PLAAF also conducted night combat drills with the aircraft with Chinese analysts claiming that the fifth-generation warplanes displayed their “all-time and all-weather” combat readiness throughout the exercise. Some speculative reports had also stated that the J-20s could be fitted with Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs).

American Might On The Wane?

Several analyses have shown that America is on the verge of losing its air dominance. While the United States still has unrivaled air-to-air capabilities, “continuous improvements in Chinese air capabilities make it increasingly difficult for the United States to achieve air superiority within a politically and operationally effective time frame, especially in a scenario close to the Chinese mainland”, according to a 2015 study by RAND Corporation think tank.


A 2016 Department of Defense report said that emerging integrated and networked air-to-air, surface-to-air capabilities “threaten the Air Force’s ability to provide air superiority at the times and places required in the highly contested operating settings of 2030 and beyond”.

 

SuvarnaTeja

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US Fears Losing Air Superiority To China By 2035; Not J-20 Fighters, But Bothered By PLAAF’s Real ‘Mighty Dragon’​

BySakshi Tiwari

February 21, 2022

The rapid growth of China’s military capabilities has created ripples in the American security establishment, which fears that the PLA Air Force could be on its way to seriously challenge the US’ air superiority by 2035.

General Charles Brown Jr., the US Air Force’s chief of staff, said that the PLA had “the largest aviation forces in the Pacific” and had created them “underneath our nose” during an Air Force Association conference in September last year. Brown had stated that China would have surpassed the United States’ air superiority by the year, 2035, VOA News had reported.

Another top military official, Lieutenant General S. Clinton Hinote, Deputy Chief of staff, warned that the US was falling behind China’s progress. “In a few important areas, we’re behind…This is not a tomorrow problem. This is a today.”

The Pentagon brass has been openly admitting the progress of the Chinese PLA for some time now. Recently, Congressional Research Service’s revised report said that China has the biggest naval fleet in the world. The report explicitly admitted that the Chinese Navy seriously threatened the US Navy’s control of the Western Pacific.

However, the open admission about the challenge to its air superiority by the top officers of the US Air Force was significant. The US Air Force is equipped with the most advanced and lethal stealth fighters in the world — the F-22 Raptors and the F-35 Lightning II.

It also has the best dogfighters in the form of F-15EX and the most popular, F-16 Falcons. Despite the prowess of its air fleet, Hinote had then told reporters that as someone who was familiar with evidence at all classification levels, he believed China had caught up to the United States’ airpower capabilities, and that “the light is blinking red”.

Further, in an interview with the Air Force Magazine, Hinote had predicted that the F-22 would be phased out around 2030 (the exact date is to be determined by the scenario) and that the Next-Generation Air Dominance fighter will be needed soon to counter a Chinese stealth aircraft and missile threat that is “closer than we think”.

Air Force chief General Charles Brown Jr had said that the service was planning to wind down its fleet from seven types to “four plus one”. He said the F-35, F-15EX, late-model F-16s, and the NGAD family of systems will make up the future fighter fleet, with the A-10 serving as the “plus one”.

Further, VOA News analyzed that Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall mentioned China 27 times in his speech at the AFA conference. He only referenced Russia once and Afghanistan three times, in comparison.

This clearly indicates that the US military is deeply concerned about PLA’s rapid pace of modernization, which could seriously challenge America’s air superiority in the near future.

Is J-16 A Bigger Threat Than J-20?

“They’re putting together packages of fighter aircraft, the J-16 in particular, flown in large numbers. And that’s a relatively new capability,” said Eric Heginbotham, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Center for International Studies.

“They’re putting complete packages together. They’re also sending anti-submarine warfare aircraft up. So, they’re showing a lot.”

He was referring to a spectacular display of military strength wherein China flew about 150 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, including its most advanced J-16 fighters and H-6 bombers, said VOA News. Beijing sees the self-governing island as a breakaway province and wants to reunite it with the mainland, if necessary by force.

0

Shenyang J-16

It is intriguing that US experts have taken note of the Shenyang J-16 aircraft while China projects J-20 stealth fighters as its most potent and lethal combat aircraft.

Taiwan has accused China of escalating its “gray zone tactics” and sending its aircraft to violate its airspace repeatedly since 2020. The most frequent visitor to its airspace is the J-16 fighter jet.

China deploys its J-16s to irritate its adversaries. Earlier this month, the PLA Western Theater Command Air Force simulated aerial confrontations with warplanes, notably J-16 fighter jets, in a series of drills carried out to send a message to rivals — Japan and the US.

Last month, China deployed 39 warplanes, including 24 J-16s, into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), largely fighter jets, in its second-largest single-day invasion, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense.

Chinese analysts have referred to the J-16 as a core element of the PLA Air Force. A flying instructor at the PLA Northern Theater Command Air Force, Wang Songxi, earlier said that China’s J-16 multi-role fighter jet is flawless and is much superior to other similar aircraft including, the Su-30.

The J-16, which first flew in 2004, is equipped with modified AESA radar and can perform both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations.

article_5b718bc0585696_45986449.jpg

J-16D (via Twitter)

The latest variant, the J-16D, is a dedicated electronic warfare aircraft. The J-16 is itself an improved version of the J-11 air superiority fighter, which China had developed in the 1990s based on Soviet-origin Su-27.

Each wing of the J-16D has an electronic warfare pod, and the plane’s body is studded with antennas. It is widely believed that the fighter is equipped with an active electronically scanned radar array (AESA).

On the other hand, the J-20 is a fifth-generation stealth combat aircraft. Previous reports had indicated that the J-20s were deployed to monitor the Taiwan Strait and the East China Sea.

This year, China will begin upgrading the engines of its most sophisticated stealth fighter jet to get it closer to the performance of the American F-22 Raptor. A Pentagon report also mentioned that the Chinese are adding a thrust-vectoring nozzle and an F-22-like “supercruise” capability with the installation of indigenous WS-15 engines.

8d575c827c4a021bbcb529e2d49ecfe6.jpg

File Image: J-20
Last month, the PLAAF also conducted night combat drills with the aircraft with Chinese analysts claiming that the fifth-generation warplanes displayed their “all-time and all-weather” combat readiness throughout the exercise. Some speculative reports had also stated that the J-20s could be fitted with Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs).

American Might On The Wane?

Several analyses have shown that America is on the verge of losing its air dominance. While the United States still has unrivaled air-to-air capabilities, “continuous improvements in Chinese air capabilities make it increasingly difficult for the United States to achieve air superiority within a politically and operationally effective time frame, especially in a scenario close to the Chinese mainland”, according to a 2015 study by RAND Corporation think tank.


A 2016 Department of Defense report said that emerging integrated and networked air-to-air, surface-to-air capabilities “threaten the Air Force’s ability to provide air superiority at the times and places required in the highly contested operating settings of 2030 and beyond”.



It will be 2025 not 2035
 

Ali_Baba

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The J16D looks mighty interesting - and one that I would like PAF to be able to get so that is can use it as part of strike formations ( unlikey - but a wish list .. )
 

kingQamaR

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distance would be a factor in any air warfare in the Pacific. Taiwan is just 161 kilometers from China's coast, compared with more than 700 kilometers from U.S. airbases in Okinawa, Japan, and more than 2,700 kilometers from Guam.

How long could USA control Taiwan airspace for ? During attack by China
 

MajesticPug

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Not sure about J-16D. But J-16 got whacked by J-10C in repeat PLAAF air wargames

This report just revealed the American snobbiness towards Chinese designed fighter jets. American generals gave credits to the Flanker-blood J16 but both pure-Chinese-designed J10C and J20 were shot down with their snobbiness. YET, and a big Yet, they didn't explain how J16 could erase American air dominance hoisted up by the F15EX, stealth F35 and F22. I call this sloppy logic and snobby attitude.
 

Ali_Baba

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Not sure about J-16D. But J-16 got whacked by J-10C in repeat PLAAF air wargames
I was referring to the EW/Growler like capabilities of the j16d for offensive deep strike missions that it brings to the table and not air to air which like you said j10c is better.
 
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beijingwalker

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China to debut J-16D at air show, signalling electromagnetic warfare prowess​

  • Electronic variant of J-16 fighter will feature at Zhuhai Airshow and bears military insignia, indicating it has entered service
  • The Chinese jet is the second of its type, after the American EA-18G Growler



Published: 12:00pm, 25 Sep, 2021


78dd674245d342c6b3de09db9c148616-1280.jpg

The J-16D can be used to jam, disrupt and attack an enemy’s air defence system. Photo: Weibo

China's electronic warfare aircraft the J-16D will make its debut at the country's largest air show next week, showcasing the advances in the military's capabilities in electromagnetic warfare.

A J-16D - the electronic variant of China's J-16 fighter - landed in the southern city of Zhuhai on Tuesday in preparation for display at the show, China Central Television (CCTV) reported. The six-day China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, also known as the Zhuhai Airshow or Airshow China, begins next Tuesday.

The aircraft was painted with the insignia of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), CCTV said. That indicates that it has been in service for the military.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, spokesman for the PLA Air Force, told CCTV on Friday that the J-16D had entered combat training to aid the force's electronic attack capabilities and support expansion of its combat range.

6075bd062cc1ef0018da178b.jpg


The J-16D's notable features are several antennas on its fuselage and an electronic warfare pod on each wing, designed to jam and disrupt the targets of an enemy's air defence system and launch anti-radiation missiles for attacks, typically against an enemy radar, Guangdong-based news website southcn.com reported. It can also protect other aircraft from enemy attacks, the report said.

China is the second country to develop this type of electronic warfare fighter, after the United States, whose EA-18G Growler is, similarly, designed for jamming enemy systems and for electronic protection of other aircraft during attack missions. It is evidence of China's greatly improved electronic warfare capabilities, experts said.

"The J-16D shows that China attaches great importance to domination in electromagnetic warfare," former PLA instructor Song Zhongping said.

"To win future warfare, it will be necessary not only to dominate the air and sea but also to be proactive in domination of information and electromagnetic power."

Zhou Chenming, a researcher from the Yuan Wang military science and technology institute in Beijing, said the J-16D - which had its first flight in 2015 - had been modified to improve its engine system and would be used mainly for electronic support of the entire air force and suppression of enemy air defence systems.

More than a dozen Chinese fighter jets, including J-16s, flew into Taiwan's air defence identification zone early this month, the self-ruled island's defence ministry said. Scholars in Taiwan said the possible inclusion of the J-16D in such missions should be monitored, given its ability to suppress ground-based and sea-based air defence systems and jam radar systems.

"It is possible that both the J-16 and J-16D will be used in combat against Taiwan," Zhou said, adding that the electronic version could soon join patrols near the island, which Beijing views as its territory and has vowed to bring into its fold, by force if necessary.

According to CCTV on Friday, WZ-7, an unmanned aerial vehicle, will also make its debut at the air show. A high-altitude unmanned reconnaissance aircraft developed and produced domestically, the WZ-7 mainly performs border reconnaissance and territorial sea patrol tasks, the report said.

Also set to appear are the J-20 stealth fighter jet, the Y-20 transport aircraft, the KJ-500 airborne early-warning and control aircraft, the H-6K bomber and the JL-10 trainer aircraft, the report said.

 

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