China Deploys J‑20 Stealth Fighters in Signal to Taiwan

 In Land, China, Air, Forces & Capabilities, P5

PLA’s J‑20 Stealth Fighter Deployment Near Taiwan Stokes Fear, Delivers Warning to Separatists

(Source: Global Times; pub­lished Sept. 26, 2020)

A J‑20 stealth fight­er jet of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was report­ed­ly spot­ted soar­ing through the skies above an East China city only 500 kilo­me­ters away from the island of Taiwan, spark­ing fear on the island and deliv­er­ing a pow­er­ful warn­ing to Taiwan sep­a­ratists and the US, as the island’s media report­ed on Saturday that Taiwan war­planes were only min­utes away from the J‑20’s kill range if it flew toward the island.

The J‑20 holds a gen­er­a­tion gap advan­tage over all of Taiwan’s war­planes, and its involve­ment in a poten­tial PLA oper­a­tion on Taiwan would result in a one-sided PLA vic­to­ry in the air, ana­lysts said on Saturday.

Citing an unver­i­fied video widely cir­cu­lat­ed on social media plat­form Sina Weibo since Friday, Taiwan media report­ed on Saturday that a J‑20 was spot­ted flying low near the urban dis­trict of Quzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province. The report said it was likely in the process of land­ing at an air force base in the city.

It is pos­si­ble that the J‑20 is attached to the Wang Hai Air Group based in Wuhu, East China’s Anhui Province, and is being for­ward-deployed to Quzhou, Taiwan media spec­u­lat­ed.

Quzhou is only 500 kilo­me­ters away from Taiwan. If a J‑20 takes off from Quzhou and heads toward the island, it would only take the PLA air­craft seven to eight min­utes before Taiwan war­planes enter its air-to-air mis­sile kill range, and 15 to 20 min­utes before it could be right above Taipei, Taiwan media said.

The PLA Eastern Theater Command has announced aerial and naval exer­cis­es in the Taiwan Straits since September 18; how­ev­er, it has not yet released fur­ther details, includ­ing if it had deployed any J‑20 for the drills.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s defense author­i­ty has been releas­ing track­ing reports on PLA war­plane sor­ties near the island amid the PLA’s ongo­ing exer­cis­es, but they did not reveal any J‑20 activ­i­ties.

Thanks to the stealth capa­bil­i­ties of the J‑20, even if it did take part in the exer­cis­es, Taiwan would not be able to spot it anyway, a Chinese main­land mil­i­tary expert told the Global Times on Saturday on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty.

The J‑20 is a fourth (or fifth, under Western clas­si­fi­ca­tion) gen­er­a­tion fight­er jet com­pa­ra­ble with the US’ F‑22. It has strong capa­bil­i­ties in terms of stealth, sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness, super­ma­neu­ver­abil­i­ty and super­son­ic speed, the expert said, noting that Taiwan’s most advanced air­craft is the F‑16, devel­oped by the US, which is one gen­er­a­tion obso­lete com­pared to the J‑20, and the J‑20 can single-hand­ed­ly take on mul­ti­ple of them.

In a recent PLA combat exer­cise, a pilot and his team­mate flying “a new type of war­plane” faced inter­cep­tions from mul­ti­ple direc­tions, taking down 17 oppo­si­tion fight­er jets with­out receiv­ing any damage itself, despite being heav­i­ly out­num­bered, the PLA Daily report­ed ear­li­er this month.

Many media out­lets spec­u­lat­ed this new war­plane was the J‑20, and it demon­strat­ed the stealth air­craft’s absolute supe­ri­or­i­ty over its pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion coun­ter­parts.

With the J‑20 already in ser­vice by the PLA Eastern Theater Command, if a war breaks out in the Taiwan Straits, it would very likely be deployed in combat, even though it would be an overkill, ana­lysts pre­dict­ed.

J‑20 can take down not only hos­tile fight­ers, but also key strate­gic tar­gets like hos­tile com­mand cen­ters, sig­nif­i­cant­ly con­tribut­ing to the seizure of air supe­ri­or­i­ty in combat, the expert said.

Chinese main­land mil­i­tary ana­lysts said the recent J‑20 sight­ing is a pow­er­ful warn­ing to Taiwan sep­a­ratists and the US amid the cur­rent cross-Straits sit­u­a­tion. The J‑20 flew very low near an urban area in day­light, as if it wanted to show off its pres­ence, rather than to secret­ly con­duct the mis­sion at night, they noted.

Taking advan­tage of its ghost­ly defense-pen­e­tra­tion capa­bil­i­ties, the J‑20 can easily launch decap­i­ta­tion strikes on Taiwan seces­sion­ist lead­ers with air-to-ground weapons, or can inter­cept any for­eign inter­ven­tion attempts with air-to-air and air-to-sur­face weapons, ana­lysts said.

If the Taiwan author­i­ty and the US con­tin­ue to stir up trou­ble and chal­lenge China’s nation­al sov­er­eign­ty and ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty, the J‑20 could fly through Taiwan island, fur­ther show­cas­ing its supe­ri­or­i­ty over the island’s mil­i­tary, ana­lysts said.

-ends-

Defense Aerospace source|articles

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