Design Copies – Reverse Engineering – Way to Aviation Power? Are J 20 and J 31 Overhyped – Air Power Asia

The J-20, is China’s first fifth generation fighter. Plans for the Lockheed Martin F-22 design were stolen by a Chinese national named Su Bin, who was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for his crime. Aside from the obvious addition of forward canards on the J-20, the two aircraft look nearly identical. However China lacks extensive background in stealth technology, it’s widely believed that the J-20’s stealthy design is limited by their inferior radar-absorbant coating, production materials, and even those tell-tale canards. American defense experts have said that China’s J-20 will have a far larger radar signature than the F-22. The U.S. discontinued the F-22 program in 2011 with around 180 built. China, on the other hand, will continue to produce J-20s in large quantities for years to come.

Like the F-22, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was also reportedly compromised by Su Bin, leading to China’s J-31 program. This jet, still under development, possesses a greater operational range and larger payload capacity than the F-35
it was based on. There is an expectation that the J-31 will become
China’s primary carrier-based fighter once it reaches full production,
replacing the PLAN’s troubled J-15 once it enters service. Like the J-20
program, the J-31 is limited by China’s inexperience with stealth aircraft. Externally, the J-31 seems to borrow heavily from both the F-35 and F-22 programs.

To Summarize

Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, military strategist, writer and philosopher wrote around 500 B.C. “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.” He also wrote “Of all those in the army close to the commander none is more intimate than the secret agent; of all rewards none more liberal than those given to secret agents; of all matters none is more confidential than those relating to secret operations.” Clearly Chinese have mastered the art of stealing aircraft designs. They have used Chinese Diaspora, financial inducements and cyber attacks. Many Soviet aircraft and systems designers for induced to move to China with drawings when Soviet Union was collapsing in 1991. China has thrown intellectual property rights to the winds, and the worst has been on aircraft design stealing.

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