China will likely increase production of stealth fighters

Chinese manufacture of the J-20 Mighty Dragon, touted by China as a stealth fighter, is likely to increase, based on comments offered at the recent Zhuhai Airshow (Airshow China 2021) by program officials, who did nevertheless disclosed no production ramp rate. .

Some 15 J-20s flew in formation in Zhuhai in late September and early October, and observers reported an additional group of planes parked on the runway.

Global Times, a state news agency, quoted deputy J-20 designer Wang Hitao as saying that Chinese industry can “meet any level of demand from the Army Air Force. popular release for the D-20 ”.

Wang said that advanced aircraft development usually takes a long time, but “especially for equipment like the J-20, we need to do it faster in all aspects, including design, production, testing and the making”. He reported that the hunter achieved “exceptional” performance in terms of stealth, sensors and firepower, Global Times said.

Chinese officials said the J-20 flew with native WS-10C engines and the plane performed a number of flight demonstrations at the air show. Engines have long been a sore point in Chinese aviation, and early versions of the Mighty Dragon depended on Russian-designed power plants.

In a separate article, the Global Times quoted Sun Cong, chief designer of the FC-31, deployed on aircraft carriers – an F-35 lookalike – as saying that “people will see … good news on the aircraft from new generation fighter based on an aircraft carrier ”. in the coming year.

James Inhofe (R-Okla.), A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a confirmation hearing on October 5 that “Our commanders tell us that by 2025 the Chinese will have more stealth fighters. fifth generation in the front line than us. Asked about the background, an Inhofe spokesperson said the information was based on testimony provided by the commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, now retired Admiral Philip Davidson, during testimony posture in March.

The South China Morning Post, another state media, reported that China is deploying 150 J-20s to four air regiments, most operating inside the country, which are said to be dedicated to training and developing tactics. .

To match the USAF, not counting Navy and Marine Corps stocks, China is expected to build 500 fifth-generation J-20s and FC-31s by 2025, or 125 planes per year.

Just before Zhuhai, Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office announced that peak production of the Lightning II would occur in 2023, at a rate of 156 aircraft per year, and would remain at that level “for the foreseeable future.” This figure will, however, meet the demands of more than a dozen foreign military partners and commercial customers.

For the 2021 schedule, Lockheed Martin plans to deliver 133-139 F-35s, increasing to 151-153 aircraft in 2022. The company has not met planned deliveries due to supply chain issues related to the pandemic of COVID-19.

Air Force acquisition goals for the F-35 have not changed since the inception of the program. The service plans to purchase 1,763 F-35s, of which it has already taken delivery of around 300. At the current production rate, the Air Force would take delivery of its last F-35 in the 2050s.

The Air Force did not disclose plans to purchase more than 43 F-35s per year until the Block 4 version begins rolling off the production line in 2023, meaning service will likely count. approximately 652 fifth generation fighters in the period 2025., including the F-35 and 180 F-22, but not counting the inventories of the Navy and the Marine Corps. These services plan to acquire respectively 273 F-35C and 420 F-35B / C in total.

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