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posted by Fnord666 on Friday December 15 2017, @11:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the at-least-it's-in-the-air dept.

Has the People's Republic caught up?

The Chengdu J-20 marks the first entry of a multirole stealth fighter into China's armed forces. According to the Department of Defense (DOD), China views stealth technology as a core component in the transformation of its air force from "a predominantly territorial air force to one capable of conducting both offensive and defensive operations." Designed for enhanced stealth and maneuverability, the J-20 has the potential to provide China with a variety of previously unavailable air combat options and enhance its capability to project power.

As an advanced multirole stealth fighter, it is speculated that the J-20 can fulfill both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat roles for the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and the aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army Navy (referred to as either Naval Aviation or the PLAN-AF). According to PLAAF Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, the J-20 will enhance the overall combat capability of China's air force. A 2016 report by the DOD states that the J-20 represents a critical step in China's efforts to develop "advanced aircraft to improve its regional power projection capabilities and to strengthen its ability to strike regional airbases and facilities." In 2014, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission described the J-20 as "more advanced than any other fighter currently deployed by Asia Pacific countries."


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  • (Score: 2) by Arik on Friday December 15 2017, @12:28PM (30 children)

    by Arik (4543) on Friday December 15 2017, @12:28PM (#610262) Journal
    Simply having a 'stealth fighter' is important to them for prestige/legitimacy at home, and also from a deterrence standpoint. Those are firm points.

    Now, will it work? Will it work as well as other 'stealth fighters?' Will it work well enough to succeed in combat missions that rely on it?

    At this point it's hard to say. They've poured a lot of resources into a modern military aviation industry and they've had some mixed results so far. This thing could turn out to be a dud or it could turn out to be as good or better than the competition. I lean towards thinking something closer to a dud is more likely, but I doubt it will be a total failure.

    Both of the main reasons for having it are served as long as it's not tested and shown to be a complete dud, btw, so it makes good sense for them to be developing this, even if it turns out to be little more than an expensive research project on the stealth side. If it can fly low and fast and release modern standoff ASMs any functioning stealth ability is gravy.
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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Friday December 15 2017, @01:47PM (14 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday December 15 2017, @01:47PM (#610273)

    At this particular juncture, any other military in the world would be idiotic to attempt to develop a force capable of opposition to the US carrier fleet.

    Developing existing technology, yes... proofs of concept, yes... looking for disruptive technological advantage, yes... but to field a force with sufficient technology and size/numbers to challenge three aircraft carrier groups? Economically idiotic.

    Almost as economically idiotic as the US maintaining a military capable of challenging two or three major opposing forces simultaneously.

    Standing down the world's military forces and joining together in some common goals could produce amazing positive results. I know that political viewpoint fell out of fashion ~45 years ago - maybe it's time to try it again?

    --
    John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday December 15 2017, @02:04PM (5 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday December 15 2017, @02:04PM (#610277) Journal

      According to the U.S. Navy, the carrier fleet (or other ships) are extremely vulnerable to relatively cheap missiles and drones. Which is why they are trying to deploy lasers on ships.

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      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by zocalo on Friday December 15 2017, @03:48PM (3 children)

        by zocalo (302) on Friday December 15 2017, @03:48PM (#610319)
        And Zerg rushes; there was an exercise [cuttingedge.org] where the Red Team leader's strategy was to swarm a US Carrier group with small fast attack boats on a suicide charge and managed to "sink" a good chunk of the fleet before someone hit the pause button. And French submarines [theaviationist.com] - there also an incident near Okinawa [warhistoryonline.com] when a Chinese sub surfaced in the middle of carrier group performing air ops. And even random civilian shipping minding its own business (or incompetent officers/poor operational practice depending on which version you want to believe).

        The US Navy is good - very good - at what it does, but it's far from invincible or infallible.
        --
        UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday December 15 2017, @04:21PM (2 children)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday December 15 2017, @04:21PM (#610334)

          Purely strategic wargames that place two opponents with equal economic resources to start with and build differing types of forces to engage the enemy with consistently come out with Zerg rush as the win. Lots of fast, cheap little units, a mix of ground, sea and air win, with or without nukes in the conflict. Throw in nukes as an option and the vehicles that are just robust enough to reliably deliver a nuke are the game winners.

          Politically, historically it has been the capital ships, the awe inspiring carriers and submarines with enough firepower to devastate all the cities on a continent, that seem to carry the weight in negotiations and posturing. Nobody is impressed by a big standing army - the US thoroughly humiliated Saddam Hussein with a smaller but more technologically capable invading force. However, two guys on a skiff almost sunk the Cole, and since then the big battleships have been mothballed.

          Reality and politics have the tiniest intersections and overlaps.

          --
          John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
          • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Friday December 15 2017, @05:19PM (1 child)

            by Nerdfest (80) on Friday December 15 2017, @05:19PM (#610365)

            Ordering soldiers into a Zerg Rush in a real battle will turn out a bit differently than in exercises, for most, if not all military forces I'm betting.

            • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @06:42PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @06:42PM (#610395)

              Tell that to survivors of D-day. Cannon fodder rushes are a common thing.

              It might be harder these days as people are realizing that wars are about money and not right/wrong, but history shows that the tactic works out alright.

      • (Score: 2) by driverless on Sunday December 17 2017, @12:05PM

        by driverless (4770) on Sunday December 17 2017, @12:05PM (#610963)

        According to the U.S. Navy, the carrier fleet (or other ships) are extremely vulnerable to relatively cheap missiles and drones. Which is why they are trying to deploy lasers on ships.

        Wouldn't it be cheaper to deploy lasers on sharks?

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Arik on Friday December 15 2017, @02:31PM (7 children)

      by Arik (4543) on Friday December 15 2017, @02:31PM (#610293) Journal
      "At this particular juncture, any other military in the world would be idiotic to attempt to develop a force capable of opposition to the US carrier fleet."

      How do you figure that?

      "Developing existing technology, yes... proofs of concept, yes... looking for disruptive technological advantage, yes... but to field a force with sufficient technology and size/numbers to challenge three aircraft carrier groups? Economically idiotic."

      Err ok, that would make sense for most countries.

      But China has the trifecta to make the exception. They're big enough (economically) to absorb the cost. Domestic politics requires it. And it's vital to national security, precisely because someone keeps sending those carrier groups on provocative tours off the Chinese east coast.

      Chinese national defense policy is rooted in defending the center. China's center of mass stays close to the east coast. The vast, sparsely inhabited regions of Xinjian, Tibet, and inner mongolia, form a line of defense around that middle, from the southwest to the west to the north. At northeast, north Korea, not the best neighbor but still a fanatically militarized buffer state that wouldn't let anyone else just march through to attack. Due south, the mountains are an effective barrier for the most part, and relations with Vietnam, while not ideal, at least reassure them that, again, no outside army can just march in to strike that eastern seaboard where maybe 90% of the population lives.

      And to the southeast, the south china sea. This is considered no less vital to chinese security than the caribbean is to the US. Remember the cuba missile crisis?

      Make no mistake, the chinese are dead set on making their seaboard too dangerous for carriers to be risked there in the future, and they're going to keep these projects well funded until they feel they have that result. Even if there was a sudden revolution and they became a liberal democracy overnight, the new government would do the same damn thing. The Chinese will not accept foreigners flying/sailing 12 miles from their eastern seaboard with nukes on a regular basis without demanding their government act to stop it.

      Long range extremely accurate hypersonic missiles are likely a more important technology in that vein than the stealth I think, and those are already reality as well.

      "Standing down the world's military forces and joining together in some common goals could produce amazing positive results."

      Yeah good luck finding Ds and Rs to go along with that idea.

      --
      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday December 15 2017, @04:35PM (6 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday December 15 2017, @04:35PM (#610345)

        On the one hand, you can sort of say "China will be China" and let them play in their little corner of the globe.

        On the other hand, if they think what they did to Tibet is O.K.? that's playing out Nazi Germany's game, but on a long-slow boil instead of blitzkreig. Keeping a credible force just off the coast seems like a good thing to prevent them from getting more expansionist ideas.

        --
        John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
        • (Score: 2) by Arik on Friday December 15 2017, @09:16PM (5 children)

          by Arik (4543) on Friday December 15 2017, @09:16PM (#610472) Journal
          On the other hand, are the American people as a whole willing to spend the enormous amounts of blood and treasure that would go with stripping China of Tibet militarily?

          You know that's far from true. And half-measures do more harm than good I'm afraid.

          "Keeping a credible force just off the coast seems like a good thing to prevent them from getting more expansionist ideas."

          Actually it seems like exactly the opposite to that.

          There's no evidence they harbor any expansionist ideas, outside of those buffer zones on each side. Again, the Chinese mindset is (and has been for many centuries) based around defend the center. They civilize and fortify the near outside into buffer zones in order to create a separation from the rest of the world, not to bring it closer. Historically and in todays national psychology, they're homebodies, highly motivated to keep control of what is very close to them precisely because they don't want to have to control what's further away.

          So, no, I'm afraid if that's the idea behind the carrier exercises then they're quite counterproductive. The effect they're having is to make chinese paranoid about attack, and pushing them to become more aggressive as a response.

          --
          If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday December 15 2017, @11:05PM (4 children)

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday December 15 2017, @11:05PM (#610532)

            35 years of one-child policy and their population still grew by ~40% during that time... sooner or later the center won't be able to hold all the Chinese people.

            Personally, I'm in favor of unilateral disarmament, but there's the unfortunate side effect that military disarmament would lead to accelerated space travel, and anyone capable of getting a modest amount of delta-V capability to an asteroid has something bigger than Tsar Bomba at their disposal...

            --
            John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
            • (Score: 2) by Arik on Sunday December 17 2017, @11:55PM (3 children)

              by Arik (4543) on Sunday December 17 2017, @11:55PM (#611161) Journal
              "35 years of one-child policy and their population still grew by ~40% during that time... sooner or later the center won't be able to hold all the Chinese people. "

              That's later, that's very very later.

              In the meantime, the large majority of China is sparsely inhabited. Even as the total population has grown over that 35 year period, the rural areas have nonetheless been partly depopulated. The population is crowding into the center. Two of the most important tier1 cities, Guangzhou and Shanghai, are east coast cities, as is Hong Kong of course. The population growth is heavily concentrated right there on the south-eastern seaboard.

              Take a look at http://multimedia.scmp.com/2016/cities/ scroll down to the map.
              --
              If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday December 18 2017, @02:01AM (2 children)

                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday December 18 2017, @02:01AM (#611214)

                Even when people live in cities, they still consume resources that require land to produce. As lifestyles "westernize" they'll demand more foods that take more land to produce. That depopulated rural countryside may go into mechanized farming, but the land and sea can only produce so much. When they are net-importing food, they may get nervous about that.

                --
                John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
                • (Score: 2) by Arik on Monday December 18 2017, @02:42AM (1 child)

                  by Arik (4543) on Monday December 18 2017, @02:42AM (#611240) Journal
                  Oh, that's definitely a looming issue. They already import food, btw.

                  But that's only set to expand. There is virtually no mechanized agriculture. Worse yet, the farms are predominantly worked by the elderly. The typical site in agricultural areas is grandparents working the field while babysitting their grandkids. The parents are gone to the city and the kids will join them when they are old enough to start school.

                  http://www.worldstopexports.com/rice-imports-by-country/

                  Chinese rice imports rose almost 41% just between 2012 and 2016.

                  And most of that rice is imported by ship, into one of those southeast seaboard port cities.

                  Just one more reason they are absolutely going to spend whatever they have to spend to make that body of water too dangerous for intruders.
                  --
                  If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday December 18 2017, @12:53PM

                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday December 18 2017, @12:53PM (#611362)

                    I wouldn't be surprised at a move to annex those food sources at some point in the future - especially after domestic production gets straightened out and still can't meet demand. Meanwhile, the ability to prevent naval blockade would seem to be a solid requirement for their military.

                    --
                    John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday December 15 2017, @02:07PM (12 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @02:07PM (#610279) Homepage Journal

    China and it's military are an enigma.

    China is different than us, in that, they have millenia of history. It's army can trace it's history and/or heritage back five thousand years. It's been up, it's been down, but it has a hell of a lot of heritage to draw upon.

    China's Navy? Not so much. It's all new. China HAD a seafaring capability, and they abandoned it. History would have been so very different, if they hadn't scrapped their navy in the 1400's. Today - they lack a real naval tradition such as we inherited from England.

    Air? They're new at that as well.

    China has impressive numbers, and impressive technology, on paper. But their air and sea power is untested. Put to the test, they may very well kick our asses all around the world. Or, they may prove to be complete duds. Any guess ranging anywhere in that spectrum is equally valid.

    I have little doubt that China could kick our asses in a land war. They have the numbers, they have the knowhow, they have everything they need. But no one knows how they'll stand against the west at sea, or in the air. It's all conjecture at this point.

    --
    👌 Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. - Kenosha Jury
    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday December 15 2017, @02:21PM (11 children)

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @02:21PM (#610288) Journal

      But no one knows how they'll stand against the west at sea, or in the air.

      Nobody's going to be able to touch mainland China by sea in 5 years time - their artificial islands in South China Sea won't move from there, but it will be a lot harder to destroy than an aircraft carrier.
       

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday December 15 2017, @02:44PM (9 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @02:44PM (#610297) Homepage Journal

        Hmmmm - depends on a lot of things, including the willingness to use nukes. Those islands aren't all that very stable - they can be swept away. A single tac nuke for each island, and that barrier is gone.

        But, only a bunch of suicidal fools would want to invade mainland China. How many nations would it take to assemble an army as large as China's? And, since the Chinese would have all of the home field advantages, an army as large as China's would still be at a disadvantage.

        --
        👌 Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. - Kenosha Jury
        • (Score: 2) by Arik on Friday December 15 2017, @03:02PM (8 children)

          by Arik (4543) on Friday December 15 2017, @03:02PM (#610304) Journal
          Nuke their base and they'll nuke one of yours.

          You really want to trade Guam for some reef with a weather station and a landing strip?
          --
          If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
          • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday December 15 2017, @03:41PM (7 children)

            by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @03:41PM (#610317) Homepage Journal

            Not "base", but "bases". Oh yeah - Sun Tzu, remember? The Chinese aren't really into pyrrhic victories. They aren't into all-out war. They may be willing to sacrifice a few divisions, but the introduction of a few tac nukes WITHOUT hitting the homeland would convince them to back down. Unless, of course, they should elect/appoint their own version of Trump. MCGA, anyone? I'm as sure as is possible to be sure that the destruction of those islands would convince the Chinese to fall back, and test their conventional arms. In that case, we would see just how good their navy and air forces are.

            Now, if we were so utterly stupid as to send a nuke into any part of mainland China, all bets are off.

            --
            👌 Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. - Kenosha Jury
            • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday December 15 2017, @10:52PM (2 children)

              by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @10:52PM (#610525) Journal

              Unless, of course, they should elect/appoint their own version of Trump. MCGA, anyone?

              Don't underestimate Chairman Xi, he's very well into MCGA, without the media excesses of Trump.
              When he says "South China Sea is traditionally Chinese" [wikipedia.org] what do you think it means?

              --
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
              • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday December 15 2017, @11:16PM (1 child)

                by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @11:16PM (#610538) Homepage Journal

                I think he means that China had the premier world power naval force in the 1400's, and he wants to bring those days back. And, he is working hard to enforce his view.

                --
                👌 Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. - Kenosha Jury
                • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday December 15 2017, @11:34PM

                  by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @11:34PM (#610547) Journal

                  So... MCGA?

                  --
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
            • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday December 15 2017, @11:48PM (3 children)

              by bob_super (1357) on Friday December 15 2017, @11:48PM (#610553)

              > the introduction of a few tac nukes WITHOUT hitting the homeland would convince them to back down.

              It's not like that areas has any neighbors who might take offense at getting irradiated in your little war games.
              The nukes are forever staying in the box. Period.

              • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Saturday December 16 2017, @02:11AM (2 children)

                by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 16 2017, @02:11AM (#610592) Homepage Journal

                That's a pretty big assumption there . . .

                --
                👌 Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. - Kenosha Jury
                • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Saturday December 16 2017, @02:23AM (1 child)

                  by bob_super (1357) on Saturday December 16 2017, @02:23AM (#610595)

                  I must have watched too much propaganda about being the good guys.

                  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Saturday December 16 2017, @07:34AM

                    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 16 2017, @07:34AM (#610646) Homepage Journal

                    Little bit of sarcasm?

                    Many of us have been warning the partisans on both sides about giving war powers to the president, about passing laws they won't like when the other side is in power. Times change. People don't change as much as some of us wish, but the names and faces change. The D's are squawking about The Orange One today. The time may come when this country looks back on Trump as the last of the benevolent presidents. I mean, the D's may come up with a fifty year winning streak - imagine how much damage they can do in that time!

                    --
                    👌 Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. - Kenosha Jury
      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday December 15 2017, @04:39PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday December 15 2017, @04:39PM (#610348)

        Tzar Bomba makes silly little islands look silly.

        --
        John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday December 15 2017, @02:16PM (1 child)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @02:16PM (#610286) Journal

    In a nutshell: drone rush.

    They need to be decent and many more than the enemy can shot down before being destroyed.
    I have a feeling China's capability to produce heaps of J-20-ies is higher than US's to produce F35 choke luxury machines.

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Arik on Friday December 15 2017, @02:58PM

      by Arik (4543) on Friday December 15 2017, @02:58PM (#610300) Journal
      Of course, they won't cost anywhere near as much and they'll be able to produce them more quickly.

      They'll be able to fly them from land bases, in their own territory, rather than relying on carrier decks.

      And of course guided missiles are effectively a kind of 'drone.' They're quite a bit harder to shoot down than the rc quadcopter kind, or even the raptor/predator kind, especially the hypersonic kind of course.

      Cold-war era carrier tactics featured missile defense prominently, and carriers are quite good at it. The expected attack would have been a salvo of sea-skimming missiles, staying at low altitude to avoid detection as long as possible, at maybe 500mph(~800kph). You have a whole bunch of radar systems and short range defense systems all linked together to deal with those, to pick them up as early as possible and feed that target info around to all the different weapons that might be able to hit them as early as possible. And you can count on having a few seconds, long enough to launch some interceptor missiles and then fire a bunch of short range guns at the missiles that are left afterwards, before anything hits.

      Modern anti-ship weapons don't do that. They are fired at extremely long range and first fly into the stratosphere to escape drag. They can then dive relatively straight towards their target, to arrive at maximum speed (~mach10) or they can dive more steeply and pull out to a traditional sea-skimming approach, arriving ~mach5 in that case. Either way it's extremely difficult to intercept a target moving that quickly, either with a missile or a gun.

      Mach 10 is well over 7500mph(~12000kmh.)

      This sort of missile doesn't even need a warhead to be effective as an antiship weapon. Kinetic energy alone would have no trouble shredding the hull.

      --
      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?