The Chinese aircraft industry only took off after the coming to power of the communist party. Mao Tse Tung the Chinese leader decided that development of the military was a top priority, more important than food for the people. As per reports, more than 20 million died of hunger and starvation in China but the development of the military continued. Initially the Chinese were loaned and gifted some Russian planes like the MIG-15 and MIG-17. The MIG-15 was used by the Chinese in the Korean war and there are exciting tales of its dogfights with the American F-86 Sabre jet. The Chinese aircraft industry was developed with Soviet assistance and technology.

The Chinese engineers also did reverse engineering and copied Russian models. One of these is the J-7 which is a copy of the MIG 21. The Chinese air force needed the latest generation stealth fighter and they have now produced the Chengdu J-20.

Development of the Chengdu J-20.

The development of the Chengdu J-20 is heavily borrowed from the design of the new Russian stealth fighter. The project was launched in 2011 and the plane is at present in the testing stage. A prototype of the plane is undergoing tests by pilots. The plane is slated to be inducted into the Chinese air force by 2018. The J-20 is a long range air superiority fighter that can cover the entire southeast Pacific Ocean. It can also cover the north of India from Tibet. This plane incorporates the latest stealth technology.

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It is twin engined and has the capability of stealth attacks on opponents. None of the air forces in the Asia pacific region have any plane matching the Chinese fighter. This is a cause for alarm to the Philippines and Japan who are now totally reliant on the US power. Production of the plane is, however, slow and that shows that perhaps the Chinese have not yet mastered the art of mass production like the US aircraft industry. The entire project is secret and as such the efficacy of the J-20 has not been assessed as yet by western experts.

The future.

The J-20 when fully operational will alter the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region. The only counterpoise is the USA which has a large military presence in Japan and South Korea. The Chinese have already given the J-7 to Pakistan, but India remains a cause of concern to China and is the only power in Asia that can counter China. The Indians are developing their own stealth plane. The Tejas has been built, but it is not a match to the J-20. The only way to counter the Chinese is a strategic partnership between the USA and India and the signs are good  as Modi leads India forward.