Russia and China are producing stealth fighters, but how good are they? A recent Forbes commentary is illuminating. China’s Chengdu J-20 Mighty Dragon has been described as the first credible operational fifth-generation stealth fighter designed outside the U.S. The 2017 photo at the top shows China’s domestically built J-20, courtesy of XINHUA News Agency via GETTY IMAGES. Chinese designs are reportedly pulling ahead of Russian analogs in such areas as more extensive use of composite materials, active electronically scanned array radars, superior long-range air-to-air missiles and integration of precision guided munitions. Other factors may weigh in the other direction. Russian Aerospace Forces (The VKS) is said to have more combat experience owing to Middle East involvements, though the Chinese military in recent years is said to be upgrading coordinated combat training.
Russia’s Su-57 Felon stealth jet, in the last two photos, appears impressively agile but reportedly has some design aspects that reduce stealth advantage. These reportedly include fully moving leading-edge control surfaces, ram air intakes, and partially shrouded turbine jet engines. Reportedly, these features “are likely a result of comparative Russian inexperience in designing and building stealth aircraft, coupled with budgetary limitations. They, along with limited manufacturing tolerances and quality control issues, mean that the effective Radar Cross Section of the Su-57 will be at least an order of magnitude larger than the F-35 and several orders of magnitude larger than the F-22.”
Watch video of the Chinese Chengdu J-20 Mighty Dragon here, courtesy of CCTV, a Chinese government video agency.