Chinese military forums on the Internet were abuzz recently over the posting of the first photo of China’s latest test flight of a prototype jet.
The photo identified the aircraft as the next-generation heavy stealth fighter, the J-20 Dragon — the third J-20 prototype Beijing has revealed to the public since its debut in 2011.
The J-20’s key features resemble those of the top-of-the-line U.S. F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning.
In fact, the official Communist Party newspaper Global Times bragged about how key technologies used for the F-35 Lightning were “completely obtained” by China and how the J-20 is equipped with these technologies and features.
In a Jan. 20 article titled “Six of F-35’s Crucial Technologies Have All Been Obtained by China; J-20 Epitomizes All the Six Technologies,” the Global Times confirmed that the advanced designs and features include a diverterless supersonic inlet, an electro-optical distributed aperture system, an electro-optical targeting system, an AVEN nozzle, and a fire-control array radar system.
The article stops short of claiming China directly obtained these technologies from the United States. It stated that “at present, our country has completely obtained the six key technologies [used in the F-35], making us the only country after the U.S. that has completely obtained these advanced technologies.”
The first test flight of the fifth-generation stealth twin-engine fighter jet took place Jan. 11, 2011. That act caused a diplomatic firestorm because it was scheduled during the middle of a high-profile visit to China by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who took the timing of the test flight as an insult.
In his memoir “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War” published recently, Mr. Gates regaled readers with his displeasure over the test. He drew the conclusion that Chinese leader Hu Jintao was unaware of the test flight when Mr. Gates confronted him with a question about the unfriendly act.
Former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said recently that Mr. Gates was so infuriated by the flight test that he considered ending his trip prematurely in protest.
The latest test-flight photo shows the J-20 prototype with the call sign “2011” taking off from a military runway in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
EMBARRASSED DESERTER RETURNS
Lt. Emily Yeh of Taiwan’s Military Intelligence Bureau was escorted back to the country by British agents Jan. 19, ending an 18-month-long AWOL saga that had rocked the island democracy’s intelligence community.
On leave in Thailand in June 2012, Lt. Yeh disappeared after her leave ended and fled to Britain without approval from Taipei, which revoked her passport.
The British government rejected her request for political asylum, noting that Taiwan promised she would not be severely punished upon her return and that her request was based on difficulties in office politics, not political fears or intelligence exchange activities.
Apparently repentant for the embarrassment she had caused to her country, Lt. Yeh asked that she be given a chance to regain her credibility. She is to face a military tribunal and could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
• Miles Yu’s column appears Fridays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @Yu_Miles.