Korea's Neighbors Catch Up with U.S. Stealth Technology

      August 09, 2010 13:38

      China's Navy deployed a new high-speed stealth vessel called DaoDanTing Type 022 during its military drill last month. The vessel is capable of carrying eight missiles with a maximum range of 200 km and traveling at 36 knots per hour while avoiding radar and infrared detection. China has 80 of the ships.

      In January this year, Russia held its first test flight of the Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter jet in the far eastern region of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Last month, the second test flight was completed. Moscow plans to deploy the T-50 in active units from 2015 to counter the U.S. military's state-of-the-art F-22 stealth fighter jet.

      China's Type 022 stealth vessel

      U.S. dominance over stealth technology has ended, and major powers neighboring Korea already have considerable stealth technology. Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force has a large number of Hayabusa high-speed patrol boats with stealth capabilities, although not as advanced as the Type 022. Japan is also seeking to purchase F-35 stealth fighters from the U.S., and Mitsubishi is in the process of developing a stealth fighter called ATD-X.

      Wayne Ulman, head of the U.S. National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) told the Senate in May that China's next-generation stealth fighter J-XX will be deployed around 2018.

      Some military analysts claim China already has stealth bombers. Since witnessing the formidable power of U.S. stealth fighters in the first Gulf War in 1991, Beijing has gone all out to acquire the technology. The airframe design for the B-2 stealth bomber was apparently leaked to China in 2005. The Wall Street Journal said Chinese hackers obtained classified documents related to the F-35 when they attacked the Pentagon server in April last year.

      Japan's ATD-X stealth fighter

      Russia has the most advanced stealth submarine in the world. Developed in 2007, it has been evaluated as having the best underwater navigation and sonar-avoiding capabilities, in addition to the "Typhoon" developed in Soviet times. China's submarine technology is not as advanced but developing rapidly. In 2006, China's Song class diesel submarine approached within 9 km of the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk without being detected by the submarines and battleships that had been escorting it, shocking American military officials. That range is within the kill zone of a torpedo.

      China and Russia have been developing the technology to counter U.S. stealth fighters. A RAND Corporation study showed that U.S. air power in the Pacific would be inadequate to thwart an attack in a hypothetical Chinese attack on Taiwan in 2020, with American stealth fighters being unable to evade China's CETC Y-27 radars. The state-of-the-art radar system, developed with Russian technology, uses VHF mode, and computer simulations showed a high chance of U.S. stealth fighters failing to attack Chinese military bases, while American air craft carriers and the airbase in Okinawa could be destroyed.

      Russia's Sukhoi T-50 Stealth fighter jet

      Why are China, Russia and Japan trying so hard to keep up with the U.S. stealth technology? The answer is that it is impossible to fight an invisible enemy. In 2006, the U.S. military held a mock battle in Alaska between the F-22 Raptor and the F-15, F-16 and F-18 conventional fighter jets. The result was 108 conventional fighters lost, but not a single F-22.

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