China is building an advanced combat jet that may rival within eight years Lockheed Martin Corp's F-22 Raptor, the premier US fighter, a US intelligence official said.
The date cited for the expected deployment is years ahead of previous Pentagon public forecasts and may be a sign that China's rapid military buildup is topping many experts' expectations.
"We're anticipating China to have a fifth-generation fighter ... operational right around 2018," Wayne Ulman of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center testified on Thursday to a congressionally mandated group that studies national security implications of US-China economic ties.
"Fifth-generation" fighters feature cutting-edge capabilities, including shapes, materials and propulsion systems designed to make them look as small as a swallow on enemy radar screens.
Defense secretary Robert Gates had said last year that China "is projected to have no fifth-generation aircraft by 2020" and only a "handful" by 2025.
He made the comments on July 16 to the Economic Club of Chicago while pushing Congress to cap F-22 production at 187 planes in an effort to save billions of dollars in the next decade.
No, they'll not be.
They'll simply continue with poor countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.
As long as they're within a certain perimeter of a certain major player, come hell or high water, them boys will have a job.
Some will drown, but hell is guarantied:).