Friday, January 07, 2011

US Downplays Concern Over Chinese Stealth Fighter

SOURCE D&N-A top U.S. Navy official downplayed concerns about China's first stealth fighter on Jan. 6 but admitted America had been surprised by the pace of some of the Asian juggernaut's military development.
On the eve of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates's visit to Beijing, photographs indicated a prototype of the J-20 had been completed after tests last week at an airfield in southwestern China.
But Vice Admiral David Dorsett, the director of U.S. naval intelligence, predicted it would be "years" before China's new fighter would be operational.
"Developing a stealth capability with a prototype and then integrating that into a combat environment is going to take some time," he said.
Dorsett said he was not surprised the Chinese were developing a stealth fighter to rival America's fifth generation F-22 Raptor.
Military analysts warn that China is developing a new version of its Dongfeng 21 (DF-21D) ballistic missile that could pierce the defenses of even the sturdiest U.S. naval vessels and has a range far beyond Chinese waters.
"We underestimated when they would be competent and capable of delivering a technological weapon of that type," Dorsett told reporters.
But he also reckoned that China did not yet have the ability to be proficient in a sophisticated combat environment and that it was uncertain when it would actually be able to deploy new military capabilities.
"I see them delivering individual weapon systems, but until they acquire that proficiency - you know the question is how competent are they going to be," Dorsett said.
The naval intelligence chief said he was "more concerned" about China's efforts in cyber-warfare and developing its capabilities in space.

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