F-35 No Threat to China as J-20 in Service Soon to Defeat F-35Posted: August 4, 2016
Concerning US air force’s announcement on August 2 that F-35 has got “initial operational capability”, Global Times interviewed Chinese air force expert Fu Qianshao. Fu believes that there is great discount in F-35’s “initial operational capability” as the software for F-35’s fire control system has not been completed so that the weapons carried by F-35 including its gun cannot be used.
In fact, there is still a long way to go for F-35 to have initial operational capability as quite a lot of work of design and test flights has not been completed. Without sufficient test flights, the fighter jet’s true functions and performance are unknown and pilots have not obtained the experience to control it.
According to Mr. Fu, US air force has been forced to rush out the announcement on F-35’s initial combat capability due to Congress’ pressure as there has been too long a delay in completing the development of the stealth fighter jet.
Pentagon has been forced to carry out test flights of F-35s after they have been commissioned; therefore, even if the US deploys F-35s in Asia now, there can be no threat to China.
Mr. Fu says that, however, China has carried out years of test flight of its stealth fighter jet J-20 so that quite a few pilots have obtained experience in controlling the warplane.
When J-20 has been commissioned in the near future, China has already trained lots of J-20 pilots. As a result, J-20 will have initial operational capability soon after it has been commissioned. Whether in terms of quantity, quality or pilots’ familiarity with the fighter jets, Chinese air force is confident that its J-20 can deal with the threat of other country’s stealth fighters satisfactorily.
In its report titled “F-35 ready for service, says US air force, as Australia and Britain await delivery” on August 3, British media The Guardian quotes Dan Grazier, a fellow of the US-based Project On Government Oversight, as saying that the declaration of combat readiness was “nothing but a public relations stunt” and that it would not be possible to know if the F-35 jets were ready for combat until after initial operational testing.
However, so far no initial operational testing has been carried out. That was why Senator John McCain, the Republican chairman of the armed services committee, said, “The Senate Armed Services Committee will continue to exercise rigorous oversight of the Joint Strike Fighter program’s long-delayed system development and demonstration phase as well as the start of the operational test and evaluation phase (this blogger’s underline).”
It is quite exceptional for the US to commission a new warplane without operational test or evaluation.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Global Times and The Guardian’s reports. Summary translation of Global Times’ report in Chinese is provided here. The Guardian’s report can be viewed at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/03/f-35-ready-for-service-says-us-air-force-as-australia-and-britain-await-delivery.