China makes a statement by stationing state-of-the-art warplanes in contested areas

China is making a high-profile move to bolster its territorial claims by sending its most advanced warplanes to patrol the East and South China Seas.

China is among several nations claiming islands in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest trade routes. Its claims in the East China Sea include the Senkaku Islands, also claimed by Japan.

It is now backing its words with action by sending the J-20 stealth jet to the region, it said CNN.

The state-run Global Times The newspaper said the show of force will “better protect China’s airspace security and maritime interests.”

Ren Yukun, speaking for the jet’s manufacturer, called the patrols a “training routine” after the plane, which used to have Russian-built engines, now has Chinese engines.


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With China’s air force having 20 J-20s, China “now has a fleet of advanced stealth fighters in regular service that’s as good as the Americans, who remain the benchmark,” said Peter Layton, visiting fellow at Griffith Asia institutes in Australia.

He phrased China’s message to the world as follows: “Any foreign military aircraft entering China’s claimed airspace in the East and South China Seas can now be intercepted by J-20s.”

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Layton said the switch to Chinese engines expresses more than simple nationalism.

“It’s not just that China no longer needs Russian help, it’s also that Chinese-built planes are now superior to Russia.”

A few weeks ago, Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of the US Pacific Air Forces, said American F-35s were flying near J-20s over the East China Sea.

“We’re relatively impressed with the command and control that came with the J-20,” Wilsbach said.

Americans cited “relatively professional flying” by Chinese pilots.


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China has built islands in the South China Sea that could be used as refueling stations for the J-20, giving patrols long range.

According to the Global Times, the United States was on China’s mind as it expanded deployment of the J-20.

“It is certain that the J-20 will appear as advanced new equipment on potential battlefields, including at sea, especially when advanced US fighter jets such as the F-35 and F-22 have flown near China.” the newspaper quoted Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert.

“Our advanced fighter jets must meet them head-on to safeguard the country’s airspace security and maritime interests,” Song said.

blank China makes a statement by stationing state-of-the-art warplanes in contested areas

John Verrall

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