F-35 Inferior to China’s J-20, Making Pivot to Asia a Failure


US F-35 stealth fighter Jet

US F-35 stealth fighter Jet

New test flight of J-20 in gray coating indicates that if will soon be commissioned.

New test flight of J-20 in gray coating indicates that it will soon be commissioned.

National Interest carries David Axe’s article that says “F-35 is actually slower than today’s Sukhoi, Shenyang and Chengdu fighters. Fortunately, the JSF is a stealth warplane, with design features that help it avoid detection by long-range sensors in certain circumstances. If the F-35 is to survive in future wars, its operators must devise tactics that take advantage of this one attribute, Kopp advised. ‘The decisive factor for the JSF in this game will be its limited stealth performance.’”

However, J-20 that China is developing is also a stealth one. As it is a heavier fighter jet, it carries a better radar to detect F-35 long before F-35 can detect it. Therefore, when the airspace is dominated by China’s J-20s, no F-35 will be able to come near China even if US aircraft carriers can survive the saturate attacks of China’s anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles.

Now, J-20 will soon be deployed while F-35 has not yet been deployed on US aircraft carriers. US carrier-based fighter jets are not better than the fighter jets China has deployed and much small in number. How can US aircraft carriers come near China?

US pivot to Asia must be both economic and military, but now both US president candidates are against TPP. It leaves Obama’s pivot to Asia merely a military one.

As US warplanes cannot come near China, the pivot is doomed militarily.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on National Interest’s article, full text of the article can be viewed below:

America’s F-105 Thunderchief Fighter-Bomber: The F-35 of the Vietnam War?

By David Axe on July 3, 2016

The U.S. military’s new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter can’t turn fast enough to defeat a much older F-16 in mock air combat, according to an official test pilot report that War Is Boring obtained.

So how will F-35s — on track to be the U.S. Air Force’s most numerous fighter — survive in battle against foes flying much more nimble Russian and Chinese jets?

Look to history for possible answers. Fifty years ago, the Air Force was in a similar predicament. Its main strike fighter was the F-105 Thunderchief — a heavy, high-tech ground-attacker that, much like the F-35, was supposed to also be able to defeat enemy fighters.

But in fact, the F-105 — like the F-35 — turned too slowly to reliably beat the Russian-made MiG-21, the Thunderchief’s main potential rival at the time. So the Air Force worked out special tactics to help the F-105 survive.

The flying branch will have to do the same for the F-35.

The similarities between the F-35 and F-105 are striking. “Both the F-105 and JSF are large, single-seat, single-engine strike fighters, using the most powerful engine of the era … [and] with empty weights in the 27,000-pound class, and wingspans almost identical at 35 feet,” Carlo Kopp, an Australian aerospace analyst, wrote in 2004.

“Both carry internal weapon bays and multiple external hardpoints for drop tanks and weapons,” Kopp continued. “Both were intended to achieve combat radii in the 400-nautical-mile class. Neither have by the standards of their respective periods high thrust-weight ratio or energy maneuver capability favored for air superiority fighters and interceptors.”

The Air Force acquired 833 F-105s and lost no fewer than 334 over Vietnam between 1965 and 1970. North Vietnamese MiGs shot down 22 Thunderchiefs while, according to Kopp, F-105s shot down at least 27 MiGs — near parity in air-to-air combat.

But the Pentagon wasn’t content with parity. To improve its tactics, in 1969 the Air Force conducted mock air battles between an F-105 and a ex-Iraqi MiG-21 as part of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s “Have Doughnut” program. The MiG’s pilot had defected to Israel with his jet, and the Israelis generously allowed the Americans to borrow the speedy, nimble little fighter.

The experiment did not go well for the F-105. Encountering a MiG-21, the F-105 crew should try to flee, the testers advised. If the F-105 was behind the MiG-21 and the MiG flier didn’t know it, the Thunderchief crew could attempt a high-speed ambush.

But when the F-105 and MiG-21 started out in equal and opposite positions, the American plane was in trouble. “If the F-105 attacker attempts a prolonged maneuvering engagement, it becomes vulnerable to follow-up attacks as the offensive situation deteriorates due to loss of energy and maneuvering potential,” the Air Force reported.

The F-35 pilot in the JSF-on-F-16 test reported a similar dynamic. “Insufficient pitch rate,” the F-35 flier complained about his stealthy fighter-bomber. In a turning fight, “energy deficit to the bandit would increase over time.”

But while the F-105 enjoyed a straight-line speed advantage over most rivals, the F-35 is actually slower than today’s Sukhoi, Shenyang and Chengdu fighters. Fortunately, the JSF is a stealth warplane, with design features that help it avoid detection by long-range sensors in certain circumstances.

If the F-35 is to survive in future wars, its operators must devise tactics that take advantage of this one attribute, Kopp advised. “The decisive factor for the JSF in this game will be its limited stealth performance.”

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9 Comments on “F-35 Inferior to China’s J-20, Making Pivot to Asia a Failure”

  1. Fre Okin says:

    Pretty soon the Hunter (US) will be Hunted by the Chinese. American neocons should have a reality check and tuck in their tail and go home instead of messing with China. China have allowed them to play in the China Seas and they should not push their luck. If US is wise, she will keep tension under control so her MIC/Pentagon will continue to feed their mouths, thanks to China as a manufactured bad boy for them to make an excuse to make a living. There is no security threat from China. All hyped up lies, excuse to hang around the Chinese theater.

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  2. Steve says:

    First, China’s fighter jets has certainly developed to an unprecedented world class achievement from just three decades ago. It is a great feeling when the writer said the F-35 is slower than the Sukhoi, Shenyang and Chengdu fighters, uplifting the status of China’s airforce.

    But, it is somewhat confusing why Japan intend on spending $40 billion on F35, Israel announced a few days ago to procure F-35 including Australia and several other US allies. The point is why would so many countries intend on purchasing the F-35s. No allies are stupid enough to spend billions on a JSF that may become obsolete in another decade. Within the next decade, China could be the only nation to own three or four stealth fighters. J-20, J-31, J-?, J-?.

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    • James says:

      Stupidity has no limit…

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    • Simon says:

      Japan did not want the F35 and asked for F22 instead but the American refuse to sell. For being an ally to America you are expected to be a subject to America the price you pay is buy their crap so big companies in corprate America make their money back on failed technology.

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      • Steve says:

        If I remember right, the Japanese prefers the F-22 over the F-35 because of technical superiority which the US refuse Japan to acquire.

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    • chankaiyee2 says:

      There is no supply of stealth fighter jets other than F-35 as the US simply does not sell F-22.

      That is why China is developing J-31. If J-31 is comparable to F-35 in performance and much cheaper, the US will lose a large share of weapon market.

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      • Simon says:

        Do you know if the F35 the yanks is off loading to their allies come with “golden cockpit”. If not then that is even more telling.

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        • Steve says:

          For $40 billion procurement of F-35 by Japan would definitely include the golden cockpit, otherwise the F-35 will become a shooting gallery by China’s Sukhoi, Shenyang and Chengdu fighters. Without it the Japanese pilot better stay home. I think the F-16 will backup the F-35, but not the other way round. Do u think the sale includes the golden cockpit.? because China’s J-20s and some other Js will have the golden cockpit.

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      • Steve says:

        Appreciate your rely… Indeed, it will be sad news for the US and Allies, should the J-31 be at least comparable to the F-35

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