F-35 Unable to Fight J-20 for Air Superiority: US Think Tank

An F-35 lightning ii completes a flyover of USS Zumwalt ddg 1000. National Interest photo.

An F-35 lightning ii completes a flyover of USS Zumwalt ddg 1000. National Interest photo.

According to National Interest’s article by Dave Majumdar on February 10, 2017, a report of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) commissioned by US Navy says that the US has to develop a new stealth manned fighter to contend for air superiority with China’s J-20.

The article says, “The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter—which are not dedicated air superiority fighters—would not be suitable to defeat advanced adversary air defenses or enemy aircraft such as the Chengdu J-20 or other Chinese fifth-generation warplanes. ‘In contrast to today’s multimission strike-fighters, such as the F-35C, the design of these aircraft would need to focus mostly on the fighter mission rather than strike, so that they would have the speed, endurance, maneuverability, and air-to-air sensor capability needed for counter-air operations,’ the report states.”

That is only natural because when the US began developing F-35, no other country has stealth fighter to contend for air supremacy with F-35, therefore there is much more emphasis on F-35’s capabilities in penetrating enemy air defense to attack enemy targets on land or at sea.

Now, China has developed J-20 specially for grabbing air supremacy from US stealth fighters. The US finds it in a poor position and is in dire need for some fighters to deal with J-20. Sad for US Navy. No worry, US Navy can ask Congress for lots of funds to develop new stealth fighters for air superiority.

The problem is that China is also spending a lot in developing fighter jets superior to US ones and so is Russia. The US has to conduct arms race in earnest with both Russia and China.

Usually, at least one of the two countries competing with the US may develop something better than US ones. If it is China, US will lose the arms race. However, if it is Russia, the US will also lose to China as Russia is willing to sell and China can afford the purchase of Russia’s best fighter jets as proved by its purchase of Russia’s so far the best fighter jet Su-35.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on National Interest’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-us-navy-needs-new-fighter-russia-china-are-blame-19409.


8 Comments on “F-35 Unable to Fight J-20 for Air Superiority: US Think Tank”

  1. I have been reading this articles for awhile and while it does gives the readers some information, most of the stuff in the articles needs credible verification. Sorry to burst your bubbles but I got to tell the truth, F-35 is a fighter not dedicated for air superiority. It is a multi role fighter that have specific capabilities for the three branches of United States military, hence the different type of versions dedicated for their intended role. (F35A for the air force, F35B for marine corps, F35C for the navy). While it is true that the J20 is capable strike/air superiority aircraft when it is fully operational (Frontal stealth aspect is mature but side canards make it visible to radar, great range that can strike targets in long distances if China can make it’s own domestic reliable engine) J20 is far different aircraft from F35 base on their own respective roles. However despite the specific roles of each F35 versions, the main and utmost role of all the F35 versions is being a stealth frontal sensor node that can cue targets for the Aegis Ships either it be a military target installation/units while evading enemy radar (the aircraft itself is vulnerable to infrared missiles given it’s huge single engine exhaust but the avionic suites of F35 mostly mitigates that hot spots where it will be vulnerable to enemy fire by predetermining the position to evade such areas) thus the so called network centric warfare. F35 capabilities not just ends to that, F35 can also transfer information towards the Aegis Ships if it detects any launched ballistic missiles in the given area, thus giving the United States military varied option to intercept the missiles either be the Aegis Ships near the vicinity or any land base ballistic missile interceptor. That’s the reason why the aircraft itself is crucial to United States military, it is hard to research and develop aircraft that have the best radar sensor that can detect and jam targets (the reason why F35 nose radar is big), low observable technology/stealth, which is visible on some radar frequencies(but can’t cue any targeting information towards the aircraft itself given it’s distance limitation and clutter), relative size but fitted with a single powerful engine (the B version can take off shortly on small runways while the C version can be carried itself on board the aircraft carriers). To make it short, F35 is the resulting product to have those technology/capability fitted on one aircraft, thus it’s known limitations (hot single engine exhaust, bump aircraft body size, short range and limited payload). Yes, other nations can copy those innovated designs (through cyber hacking or other means) but they can’t copy the aircraft’s capability itself. The United States is the only country (latest Aegis Combat System block 9 which can be acquired on it’s allies later on) that have credible floating missile destroyers which can intercept ballistic missiles and is rigorously tested. Add that up with an aircraft which can act as a frontal stealth sensor node (interoperability is still in testing, but already have known development success). Keep in mind that Chinese missile guided ships even having vertical launch technology cannot intercept a ballistic missile, it’s primary role is blue water combat (China do have a mid course defense land base interceptor). Even J31 which is loosely design base from the F35 is even years behind before it can be deployed. Yes, the second biggest economy is still behind on warfare technology and it have to do a lot before it can catch up. But in an event of war, sure it can deal damage enough (millions of lives would be wipe out, the reason why cold war never gets hot because leaders know it will be likely the end of humanity) however China is surely devastated (How many nuclear SLBMs do you think is patrolling in the pacific, not to mention the Allied bases surrounding the country). In the end, no one is strong, human’s idiocy is stronger(nationalism). But let’s hope human’s intellect will reign above all.

    Post Script. United States is developing a long range strike fighter aircraft with the same role of J20. The program is called PCA (Penetrating Counter Air). Arms race is certainly bad, but it keeps bigger countries at bay from attacking each other. Much better than losing countless of lives just to prove each owns view or point. -Zephyr Ras Edoul


  2. Title says:

    can i call F35 Flying mighty pork shop.


  3. Steve says:

    OneChina OneNation OneCulture OneDesign One J-20 = World Air Supremo

    ManyNations ManyCultures ManyCostOverruns ManyFaults Many F35A,B,C = Flying Turkey


    • WangWei says:

      Two questions:(1) If F-35 is such a ‘flying turkey’ then why did China copy the F-35 planform when they designed their J-31?
      (2)While it is true that F-35 is not a dedicated air superiority fighter this deficit is made up with the F-35 networking ability. The question is how will the Chinese address and overcome the extensive networking abilities of the F-35?


      • ron says:

        Copy? are you blind? LOL with the copy and paste comment from a twinkie.


      • Assassin says:

        On what basis do you make the assertion – “why did China copy the F-35 planform when they designed their J-31?”

        If you can’t prove it but playing along with the CIA directive to repeat certain falsehoods believing that if you repeat a lie often and long enough, people will start believing the lie as truth.

        You obviously can’t prove your false statements so up yours, mate!


      • Joseph says:

        Network warfare again? Getting old, isn’t it. It is not the design that makes the F-35, it is this useless heavy gadgets that makes the F-35 fat ass. If only the American could make proper engine for the F-35 weight, the F-35 project might be successful. If only.