Friday, May 21, 2010

Chinese Fifth-Generation fighter jet Expected by 2018: US intel

China is building an advanced combat jet that may rival within eight years Lockheed Martin Corp's F-22 Raptor, the premier US fighter, a US intelligence official said. The date cited for the expected deployment is years ahead of previous Pentagon public forecasts and may be a sign that China's rapid military buildup is topping many experts' expectations.

"We're anticipating China to have a fifth-generation fighter ... operational right around 2018," Wayne Ulman of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center testified on Thursday to a congressionally mandated group that studies national security implications of US-China economic ties. "Fifth-generation" fighters feature cutting-edge capabilities, including shapes, materials and propulsion systems designed to make them look as small as a swallow on enemy radar screens. Defense secretary Robert Gates had said last year that China "is projected to have no fifth-generation aircraft by 2020" and only a "handful" by 2025.

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