Saturday, April 17, 2021
Home Opinion & analysis Chengdu J-20: PLA's fifth-generation puzzle

Chengdu J-20: PLA’s fifth-generation puzzle

China has never been shy of flaunting its military prowess. Special military drills and airshows have been a regular feature for the PLA. China often showcases its flagship, all-weather, fifth-generation stealth aircraft; Chengdu J-20. Inducted in the PLA in March 2017, J-20 is the world’s third fifth-generation operational aircraft after F-22 and F-35.

India, on the other hand, has always trusted its Sukhoi-30 MKi fighter aircraft. Heavy, all-weather, and capable of engaging targets over long distances, Su-30MKi has been a great defender of our sovereign borders. Inducted in the Indian Airforce in 2004, Su-30 MKi has gone through various upgrades to make it a formidable force when it comes to air superiority. Its main feature is a capability for autonomous employment, i.e. the execution of interception or ground attack missions, including deep penetration strike missions without targeting information from ground-based control systems.

At first glance, India seems to be fallen behind when it comes to superior stealth capabilities as Chinese J-20 is a fifth-generation aircraft capable of going longer distances without getting detected by enemy radars. Not being detected during an air conflict is a significant advantage for any air force in the world, especially when the two countries share a long border. But is Chinese J-20 really a force to be reckoned with?

chengdu-j-20-chinese-fighter-jet-combat-aircraft-military-aircraft-peoples-liberation-army-air-force

According to the reports which emerged during 2018, India has repeatedly detected Chinese J-20 flying near the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Chinese claims of J-20 being stealth aircraft with the latest avionics received a significant setback when its flagship combat aircraft was detected by a previous generation fighter radar. According to former Indian Air Force Chief ACM Birender Singh Dhanoa,” Su-30 radars are good enough to detect J-20 from many kilometres away”. India recently also confirmed that its Su-30 Mki radars are going to be replaced with that of Su-35. NIIP N035 Irbis E (Snow Leopard), a 20 KW class steerable hybrid ESA radar is going to replace the previous radar systems in Su-30 capable of detecting F-35 from a distance of 59 Km. In track mode, the distance drops to 29 Kms.  Harsh Vardhan Thakur, an experimental test pilot said: “When defining pick up and rack ranges for the F-35, the low-observability may have been exaggerated. I think F-35 can be picked up at larger ranges, just as a J-20 can.”

Being detected by a previous generation radar surely put some detent on the reputation of J-20. Many US officials have also blamed China for stealing the data regarding F-35 and reverse-engineering the same for Chinese J-20. One must also consider that China has never used J-20 in a battle scenario as Chinese Airforce has never witnessed as a war-like situation making it harder to understand and analyze the capabilities of J-20 in a conflict. 

India, on the other hand, has upgraded its avionics and radars continuously to keep its fighter planes at par with world standard and enemy’s arsenal. The Su-30 Mki is equipped with Hypersonic missiles such as Brahmos cruise missile and newly inducted spice missiles, making it a fierce competitor for any nemesis. The Indian Airforce has also seen many conflicts and clashes along its international borders, making it a battle-hardened force experienced with territorial anomalies of the region and its technological capabilities, giving it a significant advantage regarding self-awareness. 

With better radar systems capable of tracking down enemies form long distances and equipped with the world’s fastest cruise missile system, Su-30 MKi becomes a deadly package in a conflict giving the Indian Airforce the necessary boost for precision-strike capabilities and vital air superiority over long distances.

Most Popular

MI vs SRH preview: Sunrisers Hyderabad need more batting consistency against defending Champion Mumbai Indians

Manish Pandey and Jonny Bairstow have hit fifties but their contributions haven't translated into wins as SRH have faltered towards the end of the match in both their games.

Designer Manish Malhotra tests positive for Covid-19

Malhotra said he has tested covid positive on Friday and isolated himself. Malhotra said he will be under home quarantine, taking all the safety protocols under doctors' advice. Malhotra urged people to stay safe.

Uttar Pradesh announces complete lockdown on Sunday

A massive sanitization program will be carried out across all 75 districts and this will be a weekly feature.

Covid-19: India records 2,17,353 cases, highest single-day spike since pandemic begin

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Saturday held an emergency meeting at his residence to assess the covid-19 situation in the country. This comes a day after when the state recorded 14,738, out of these 10,497 were reported in Bengaluru on April 15.