Stealth fighters to face off over the Pacific?

by Chris Zappone

From Wired: “the clock is counting down to a stealth warplane showdown over the Western Pacific.”

The article discusses the deployment of US stealth planes over the Pacific while the Chinese potentially develop their own stealth fighters, which bear an uncanny resemblance to their US counterparts. (What is thought to be China’s J-31 fighter pictured below).

ImageBut this is a feature of China’s strategy, I would venture. Why reinvent the wheel when you can bootleg it? 

From the article: it’s possible that all three radar-evading planes [the F-22, B-2 and F-35] could be flying together over the blue waters of the Pacific as early as five years from now. By that time China might have built and deployed combat-ready versions of its own J-20 and J-31 stealth fighters. That doesn’t mean the two aerial armadas will be fighting each other, of course. Conventional war with China is, and will likely remain, unnecessary and unlikely.

Crucially, and wisely, Wired’s David Axe notes that the point of such deployments on the side of China and the US are about demonstrating, rather than exercising power. I.e. Cold War-like posturing.

He writes:

For both sides the planned stealth strike forces are all about showing off, and impressing your rival so much that actually fighting him seems unthinkable. And that’s a good thing.