China Redefining Air Power With Huge Stealth Fighter Rollout

(MENAFN- Asia Times) China is on a roll with its rapid deployment of advanced fifth-generation fighters, potentially revolutionizing its airpower versus potential adversaries such as the US and India.

This month, NIKKEI reported that China's new stealth combat aircraft, the J-31B, is expected to be deployed on its third aircraft carrier, the Fujian. Nikkei mentions that the fifth-generation fighter jet, revealed by Shenyang Aircraft industry Group in late June, is designed for aircraft carrier use and will enhance the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) air and sea strategies.

The report says that the J-31B, which is more challenging to detect by radars and capable of coordinating with drones, is a significant upgrade from the current fourth-generation Shenyang J-15.

It says that the Fujian, China's largest aircraft carrier, is equipped with an electromagnetic catapult, allowing jets to carry more fuel and weapons, thus expanding their operational area and combat capabilities.

Nikkei notes that the J-31B is seen as a competitor to the US F-35 Lightning II and is part of China's ongoing efforts to increase its deployment of fifth-generation fighter jets, including the Chengdu J-20.

Janes reported last month that the PLA Air Force (PLA-AF) has significantly bolstered its fleet with the advanced Chengdu J-20“Mighty Dragon” fifth-generation stealth fighters. Janes says that over 11 months leading up to July 2023, the PLA-AF incorporated over 70 J-20s, bringing the total to approximately 195 aircraft.

It notes that this expansion has enabled the replacement of older fourth-generation fighters like the Shenyang J-11s and Sukhoi Su-27SK/UKBs across multiple air brigades. The report also says that as of May 2024, the PLA-AF operated 12 air brigades equipped with J-20s, with three fully outfitted with the stealth fighter.

Jane's notes that the J-20's enhanced capabilities, such as airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), underscore its growing importance within the PLA-AF.


Asia Times

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