China inducts J-20 stealth fighters


China has inducted J-20 stealth fighters in its People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), along with the Y-20 transport planes and H-6K bombers, which are already part of the country’s military aviation assets.  It is an important step in the transition of the Chinese air force to the next level. The move is also likely to have important implications for India.

About the military aviation assets
  • The Y-20 planes are essential for force projection as they can carry heavy loads of personnel and equipment, possibly China’s Type 99 series tanks and troop carriers over long distances.
  • The H-6K is designed for long-range attacks and stand-off attacks. It is considered as a strategic bomber. The aircraft has nuclear strike capability.
  • The J-20 stealth fighters are designed to compete with other fifth generation fighter jets, such as the F-22 Raptor of the United States and the Russian PAK-FA.
  • J-20 contains many of China’s top technologies in stealth aircraft plus other military secrets.
Principles behind working of stealth fighters:
  • Stealth technology also termed LO technology (low observable technology) covers a range of techniques used with personnel, aircraft, ships, submarines, missiles and satellites to make them less visible (ideally invisible) to radar or other detection tools.
  • Stealth is the combination of passive low observable features and active emitters such as Low Probability of Intercept Radars, radios and laser designators.
  • A stealth aircraft is made up of completely flat surfaces and very sharp edges. When a radar signal hits a stealth plane, the signal reflects away at an angle.
  • Radio wave absorbing material may also be used on the outside of the body.
Major implications for India

India is yet to make stealth aircraft which can penetrate through enemy radars. India has collaborated with Russia in the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

India’s fifth-generation stealth fighter programme with Russia will replace existing fighter aircraft like Dassault Mirage 2000, Sepecat Jaguars, etc.  Also, Rafael aircraft being inducted by India also had stealth features.

Pakistan is the biggest importer of Chinese arms and has shown interest in acquiring J-20 fighters from China.  This a security concern for India.

Given the apparent hostilities in the India – China relations and especially regarding the border issues, the acquisition of the J-20 fighters by China will of course be giving China an asymmetric advantage in warfare. India should be concerned over the development.