BEIJING --- ROK's JoongAng Ilbo published several reports lately on the progress of China's home-made aircraft carrier and stealth fighter jet.
It reported on August 30 that China and Japan launched deployments on the fifth-generation stealth fighter jet. The F-35A fighter jet produced by the U.S. company Lockheed Martin and to be employed by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) soon had a successful test flight on August 24. Japan plans to buy 42 F-35 fighter jets, which will be based at the Misawa airbase in Aomori Prefecture.
One day before that (August 23), the photo of a gray stealth fighter flying over a test flight base in southwest China's Sichuan province appeared online.
There is no official confirmation yet, but many Chinese military experts believed that meant the J-20 stealth fighter jet that is independently developed by China has completed research and development and is entering the stage of mass production, with the possible output of two fighters per month. At this rate, China may be able to deploy 36 J-20 fighters by early 2018.
It is reported that F-35 and J-20 are both fifth-generation fighters with the most cutting-edge stealth performance. It's unclear whether it's coincidence or on purpose, China and Japan almost began the deployment of such fighters at the same time.
The ROK plans to buy F-35 from 2018 and Russia will also deploy its self-developed new-generation stealth fighter T-50 around that time, sending Northeast Asia into a new era when next-generation stealth fighters will compete for air domination.
China has the greatest motivation because deploying J-20 will help it change the backwardness of its air force equipment. J-20 is superior to F-35 in terms of stealth performance, maneuverability, beyond-visual-range air combat and many other aspects, enabling the PLA Air Force to turn the tables in combat against JASDF.
The report on August 29 said that China's first home-made aircraft carrier will be deployed to the South China Sea within three years. According to a set of photos released online in early August, China's first home-made aircraft carrier was being manufactured at the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co Ltd. At the moment, the carrier body is almost completed waiting for final assembly.
Analysts said that China's home-made aircraft carrier can enter the water at the end of this year, but it may take another two or three years before it can be deployed for real combat. Compared with satellite photos released a year ago, China's aircraft carrier has progressed much faster than expected.
Sources familiar with the matter who insisted on anonymity said "based on released photos and China's technical capability, we can conjecture that the new aircraft carrier under way in Dalian will have combat capability equivalent to that of Britain's Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier."
It is reported that China's new aircraft carrier is very likely to be deployed at the Sanya Base, south China's Hainan province and its operations will focus on the South China Sea region. ROK military expert held that once China's new aircraft carrier formation appears in the South China Sea, it will pose a huge threat to surrounding countries.
"China's aircraft carrier is unable to compete with its American counterpart, but if local conflict rather than an all-round war broke out between the two sides, China would have full deterrence."
According to the report, the U.S. analyzed that China plans to build six aircraft carriers by 2025 including two nuclear-powered ones. Besides, the rise of the PLA Navy doesn't completely rely on aircraft carrier. It will build more than 15 large naval vessels including frigates and landing ships every year from 2011, an unprecedented high speed in the world history.
ROK military officials said "China is mass-producing vessels like printing in a factory." "It is terrifying how powerful the Chinese Navy will become."