China years behind US’ sixth generation fighter technology

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(FILES) In this file photo a F-35 fighter plane flies over the White House on June 12, 2019, in Washington DC. - US President Donald Trump said September 15, 2020 he would have "no problem" selling advanced F-35 warplanes to the United Arab Emirates, despite objections from close ally Israel. "I personally would have no problem with it," he said on Fox News. "I would have no problem in selling them the F-35."Trump, who will oversee the signing of a deal normalizing relations between Israel and the UAE later Tuesday, said the sale would mean "tremendous jobs at home." (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP)

Beijing: China, which in recent years tried to catch up with the US in the design and production of new generation warplanes, is trailing the American air force in the development of the sixth-generation fighter jets by several years, according to a media report.

America is leading the world in the sixth-generation fighter jets with the US Air Force saying it has flown a prototype – a milestone that is still years away for China, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday.

The US has two fifth-generation fighters in service: the Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35, both with stealth, supersonic cruise, super maneuverability and superior avionics.

Though lagging behind in the development of aircraft engines, China has produced a variety of new generation fighter aircraft including the stealth fighter, J-20 which is officially stated to be the fourth-generation fighter jet.

The bulk of its advanced jets mostly comprise of Russia’s Sukhoi aircraft, including Su-27, Su-30KK and Su-35S, besides J-15 which has been specifically developed to operate from the decks of the aircraft carriers being developed by it.

China currently has one aircraft carrier, Liaoning, a refit of the Soviet-era ship which was commissioned in 2012 and the second indigenously developed carrier, Shandong, is undergoing sea trials while the third one is under construction.

The official media report says China plans to have six aircraft carriers.

While focussing on the up-gradation of avionics, China’s new generation aircraft mostly rely on Russian engines.

Also, China which helps its all-weather ally Pakistan to jointly produce JF-17 fighter jets, recently upgraded it with new Block-3 version.

The upgraded JF-17 fighter jet featuring the technologies of China’s stealth fighter J-20 made its maiden flight early this year in the Chinese city of Chengdu.

JF-17 Thunder, which was previously referred to as FC-1 Xiaolong, was previously a single-engine multi-role light fighter jointly produced by the two countries for several years with engines supplied by Russia.