China will publicly present its new stealth fighter jet for the first time at an air show next week, the Chinese air force revealed Friday.
The J-20 will be unveiled next week at Airshow China 2016 in Zhuhai, Guangdong. The J-20 and J-31 fighter jets are designed to close the gap between American and Chinese air power. The Pentagon said that the two fifth generation fighters will permit the evolution of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), allowing the transition from a defensive territorial force to one with the ability to carry out offensive strikes, reports Reuters.
The J-20 and J-31 are often compared to the F-22 and F-35. That China’s new fighters sharing similarities with American jets is not a coincidence.
China claims that its stealth fighters were “independently developed by China,” but evidence suggests that Chinese hackers stole the technology from the U.S.
In 2009, Chinese cyber criminals allegedly breached U.S. systems and illegally acquired critical information on the F-35 program. While the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin said that no classified documents were taken, the National Security Administration (NSA) reportedly revealed later that the intruders stole more than 50 terabytes of data — the equivalent of over five Libraries of Congress — on the F-35, the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history, as well as the B-2 bomber and the F-22.
China lifted data on key radar systems, engine schematics, and general aircraft designs.
“The so-called evidence that has been used to launch groundless accusations against China is completely unjustified,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in response to the claims that Chinese agents were involved in the hack.
Just two years after the breach occurred, China carried out the first test flight of its J-20. The J-31 made its first flight in late 2012. China completed these two aircraft well ahead of their expected completion dates.
A Chinese businessman in the U.S. in March pleaded guilty to conspiring with two individuals in China to steal U.S. military secrets from defense facilities between 2008 and 2014. Su Bin confessed to working with two Chinese agents to steal information on F-22 and F-35. Communicating with his handlers, he reportedly said that the stolen technology will “allow us to rapidly catch up with U.S. levels” and will let China “stand easily on the giant’s shoulders.”
The U.S. spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the F-35 program.
China’s “hard work” will be put on display next week. PLAAF spokesman Shen Jinke said that the new J-20 will help “safeguard sovereignty and national security.”
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