Taipei, Dec. 4 (CNA) Local military analysts expressed doubtTuesday about the "stealth' capability of a Chinese stealth fighterthat reportedly has been performing high-speed taxiing testsrecently.
Pictures of the prototype J-20 stealth fighter were posted on
several websites after the U.S.-based Aviation Week reported that
the aircraft had been carrying out taxiing tests at an airfield in
Chengdu, western China, late last month.
The debut of the J-20 was announced in November 2009 by GeneralHe Weirong, deputy commander of the People's Liberation Army AirForce, during an interview on Chinese TV.
The general said a "fourth-generation" stealth fighter would belaunched in 2010-2011 and would become operational by 2017-2019,according to the weekly.
Taiwan's military declined to comment on the emergence of theChinese stealth fighters.
However, Shih Hiao-wei, director of the News Converge Departmentof the Defense International monthly, said that judging from itscontours, the fighter most likely has stealth technology developed bythe U.S. or Russia over the past 20 years.
"But to what extent it possess the technology remains to beseen," Shih said.
He said the design of the J-20's cowling, jet and pelvic finmakes it less capable of hiding its shape, especially when it makes aturn or comes under a multi-radar system.
Local military observers expressed worry that the Chinese stealthfighters, if they become operational, would put Taiwan's air force atdisadvantage even if Taiwan upgrades its F-16 A/6 fleet or acquiresF-16 C/D fighters.
Taiwan would only be able to match up against the Chinesefighters if it obtains F-35s, or a similar model, the observers said.
Wong Ming-hsien, director of the Tamkang University's GraduateInstitute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said thatthe reported Chinese stealth fighters would be mainly to match thethe U.S.' F-22s or F-35s and would take around 10 years to becomefully operational.
"It is too early to talk about how Taiwan should respond -- weneed not scare ourselves," Wong said.
Legislator Lin Yu-fang said that China would not necessarily beable to build advanced military aircraft even though it could producenuclear weapons or build its own aircraft carriers.
The prototype J-20 is an indication that China has made slowprogress in building military aircraft, but "it has a long way to goto produce a stealth fighter that could compete with those of theU.S. or Russia," Lin added.
(By Emmanuelle Tzeng & Bear Lee)