The latest issue of the popular British weekly The Economist published an unexpectedly bold statement that China will soon create an air force that will compete with the leading Western powers, and in some cases even surpass them. However, despite the fact that over the past two decades, the PLA (People’s Liberation Army of China) Air Force has been equipped with the most advanced technology, many problems remain unresolved.
So, according to The Economist, the first fighter of the 5th generation Chengdu J-20 “has a much larger range compared to the F-35 of the US Air Force, so it will pose a serious threat to US warships in the Pacific.” The intrigue is that no one knows the above-mentioned “range” of J-20. Its flight range is known – about 1200 km, while it is 1017 km in the F-35, which is quite comparable, and in the presence of refueling this advantage generally comes to naught.
In addition, the flight range is not the only indicator that guarantees flight advantages. In addition, the level of avionics, airborne sensors, engines and the human-machine interface are taken into account.
Another point mentioned by the British publication: the Chinese military-industrial complex is actively cooperating with the private sector, while the US is skeptical about this.
And finally, The Economist points to the superiority of Chinese air-to-air missiles PL-10 and PL-15 over American counterparts. The exception is the “Meteor” rocket, developed in the UK and well-established in Iraq and Afghanistan.