For a first post on this new blog, we couldn’t do much better than hi-lighting the point the Chinese are making to the world, and the US in particular, that is is wide awake, alive…and kicking.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome; The Chengdu J-21/J-31/F-60 stealth jet, already dubbed “JSF’ski” in Moscow by sets of grinding teeth.
Yep, the US Secretary of Defense may get tempted to quote Chamberlain’s “peace for our time”, to smooth over the fact that his office has lost face twice now. The Russians however have to face the bitter reality of the master, left behind by his student, in thanks for a job well done.
Beijing is done copying, well…OK…not beyond anything that comes naturally, but they are now able to formulate and implement their own ideas after copying Western and Russian trail blazing, a lot like the Soviets in the 80’s. Keep the good stuff, get rid of the bull and put in some of your own. The most prominent Soviet example of this method was a little plane they made to counter, and in some respects copy, the American made F-15. That aircraft was the Su-27 Flanker, still one of the best and most beautiful 4th Generation designs ever…
With this knowledge in the back of his head, the US Secretary of Defense has something to worry about indeed.
Fact; the Chinese make a prototype in less than half the time than it would take in any other country (yes, I mean globally, not just the infighting Europeans), and to add insult to injury, probably even at half the money as well. Fact again, the Chinese presence is becoming universal, not just Africa for raw materials. They recently showed up in Iceland making it quite clear that they would not be left out of the discussions over the Northern sea passages that are opening up. Russia, Canada, Norway, the US, Iceland… and China?
More facts; the Chinese want information and are not ashamed to go after it. That trucking logistics center with all those antennas on top, the one right next to the Pentagon? Chinese… That planned mining operation in the middle of the Australian military grounds at Woomera? Chinese… The biggest customer of conference papers from that UK defense conference specialist? Yes…again…
OH, before we forget; those permanent magnets for the JDAM and Tomahawk cruise missiles? Yes, they used to be produced in the US but not anymore… China…
The Chinese seem to know all about us, they have 3 “Blue Force” Aggressor Squadrons with J-10 and Su-27 aircraft. In Moscow, yours truly was told that those planes are only original on the outside. They should know as they helped the foreign engineers the PLA hired to modify the rest. And in the West? The West operates T-38’s and a few bashed up Mig’s and Sukhois, discarded by their CIS owners, decades ago. The same CIS countries who then turn around and charge 350,000 USD for a second hand canopy, you judge on who is the smart one in that game.
It is true, in the West, by lack of better, we drink the sand, call it water and now we actually have started to believe it is just that.. Oops…
So, are the Chinese throwing President Reagan’s strategy back in our faces? Even if everybody agrees that the recent F-22 production announcement is an electoral stunt, the Air-Sea Battle strategy says a lot by not saying anything, not a single word, on the real issue; The fact that before, we ran the game and now we have to come up with strategies to react to someone else’s actions. The West yielded the initiative. If there are some foreseeing how that may become a problem, they are being very discrete about it indeed.
The mere existence of the J-21/J-31/F-60 is important in itself, not because of the stealth issues, which will undoubtedly be covered by Mr. Sweetman and Dr. Kopp.
It is significant because the Chinese Forces, whose biggest disadvantage was their centralized, sluggish, rigid and top heavy Command and Control Structure is, obviously, evolving, fast…
Not such a long time ago, a man walks into a secure Pentagon office, to talk to the top responsible for foreign material on this great plan; get a fleet of original Su-27’s to run for Red Flag. The real deal, an offer they couldn’t refuse, for sure.
The man in question, who has forgotten things about Russian jets most people still have to discover, sat back, smiled, and said this; Good luck Gentlemen.
Weird reaction? off course not, the Belorussians already sold a group of exactly the same vintage Su-27’s to those same Americans as early as 1993, together with a bunch of double digit SAM’s. This is a whole new ball game now, the main focus is on connectivity, sharing target quality data, disassociate the sensor from the shooter, electronic discretion in one word; integration. Just a plane is not more than that, just a plane.
The Chinese forces are building a very impressive inventory for long range operations to, as von Clausewitz would argue; “pursue politics by other means”. The J-20 long range interceptor, the new carriers to be protected by the Aegis comparable Type 052D destroyers, the “Dark Sword” long range hypersonic air-to-air UCAV, the DF-21 anti-carrier ballistic missile and off course the new J-21/J-31 carrier capable stealth jet. Heck, it even has 2 engines.
During a conference in Singapore recently, a USN Captain said on the JSF that; “in the USN, taking off on a single engine is considered an emergency situation”. I guess the PLA-N was listening to that one too.
The Chinese are big fans of President Reagan and the US will have to tread very carefully this time, if they do not want to pull the short straw in this new economical power struggle.
To avoid a military conflict that no one either wishes or can afford for that matter, the US and its allies will have to get the better training, all else now being equal. In that respect, running F-22’s and F-35’s against a bunch of T-38’s and old bashed up MiG’s may prove to be an ostrich strategy…
But, like every cloud, there is a silver lining as the Chinese are taking care of a very big problem that the Americans had to face ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the words of Georgi Arbatov; “We are going to do the worst thing we can to you Americans, We are going to take away your enemy from you.” Question is, the joke will be on who this time around?