Inside the Ring

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Mr. Fisher said the images of the jet reveal that China is advancing rapidly toward fielding a credible and competitive fifth-generation fighter. The photos show a large fighter with radar-evading stealth features, an advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and “supercruise” — the ability to fly at supersonic speed for long distances using less fuel, he said.

“With refueling, this fighter can carry the fight out to Guam,” Mr. Fisher said.

As for the Pentagon’s claim that the Chinese are having problems developing an advanced engine for the jet, Mr. Fisher said China is ground-testing a new, more powerful jet engine and, as a result, could deploy the new jet by 2017.

“If the United States wishes to remain an Asian power capable of deterring Chinese aggression, or preventing future generations from becoming victims of China’s dictates, it is essential that an improved version of the F-22 be put into crash development, as well as putting a sixth-generation fighter into formal development,” Mr. Fisher said.

Russian missile defense

Russia’s military is working to deploy an “impenetrable” missile-defense shield by 2020, according to Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the Russian armed forces staff.

Gen. Makarov was quoted in Russian news reports Monday as saying “the state will have an umbrella over it which will defend it against ballistic missile attacks, against medium-range missiles, air-based cruise missiles, sea-based cruise missiles, and ground-based cruise missiles, including missiles flying at extremely low altitudes, at any time and in any situation.”

“Of course, this is a long process that requires a significant financial investment. But the foundation for this system will be established as early as 2011,” he said.

The general’s statement raises questions about the testimony last year by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who told Congress while lobbying for the ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that the Russians “hate” missile defenses, based on their constant opposition to U.S. defenses and efforts to limit U.S. defenses in the arms treaty.

Based on Gen. Makarov’s comments, what the Russians really hate are U.S. missile defenses because they could be expanded to counter Moscow’s missiles.

Gates‘ quest

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is being offered a visit to China’s Great Wall during his much-anticipated visit to the Middle Kingdom set to begin next week that pro-China officials in the Obama administration hope will jump-start stalled military exchanges.

Trip planners in the Pentagon and Beijing are working on the itinerary for the visit, which is expected to be the first clear reflection of whether China’s military, the bastion of anti-U.S. sentiment within the communist leadership, is willing to sign on to U.S. efforts to build trust.

The test will be whether the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) generals who have refused to allow U.S. leaders to visit sensitive military sites in the past will give Mr. Gates more access than past secretaries.

In 2005, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was the first to visit the headquarters building of the Second Artillery Corps, the strategic missile forces in 2005. That was hailed as a breakthrough, even though no missile sites or warhead storage facilities were included.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. ...

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