Chinese Stealth Fighter Jets Are Now Combat Ready

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Joe Burtzlaff

This past week, China announced that its new stealth fighter jet is now combat ready, a major step forward for the Chinese military. A post on the website of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said that the J-20, a fourth-generation stealth fighter, has been commissioned into China’s air force and is ready for combat operations. For China this is a huge victory in their effort to catch up to the U.S. in terms of military technology capabilities. The J-20, which can conduct both ground attack and air-to-air missions, is seen as a response to the F-35 Lightning, America’s new multi-role stealth fighter jet.

In a statement to Chinese state media, Shen Jinke, spokesman for the Chinese Army said, “The stealth jets will improve the air force’s comprehensive fighting ability and enable it to better safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,” and Chinese military expert Song Zongping said that the J-20 will, “engage with rivals in the future who dare to provoke China in the air.┬áIn the past, only the U.S. and its allies like Japan were capable of arming stealth fighter jets. But now, their monopoly in this region has been broken by China’s J-20.” China hopes to alter the balance of air power in the Asia-Pacific Region with the J-20.

The development and completion of the J-20 is a big victory for China, but experts say that the U.S. still has a sizable advantage in air power in the region. In 2016, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said, “When I hear about F-35 vs. J-20, it’s almost an irrelevant comparison.” Last month, Japan’s air force received their first 10 F-35s, and will be receiving more aircraft in the coming months and years. In January of 2017, the U.S. deployed their own F-35s to Japan to be a key part of defense efforts in the region.

While China certainly isn’t looking for a war at the moment, their commissioning of the J-20 is sure to be seen asa threat to region stability by the U.S. and its allies. The commissioning of the J-20 also underscores the growing tensions surrounding the Korean Peninsula. However, the U.S. still maintains air superiority in the region, which is critical to the security of America’s allies.