December 3, 2021

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From a hypersonic missile to a stealth fighter, China’s military race

The world’s first two-seat stealth fighter, the J20 Wilong, “Mighty Dragon”, could make its maiden flight to China in less than two weeks, allowing Beijing to replace Washington in the so-called “Next Generation Air Dominance” (NGAD) , the latest generation of airspace. The official presentation is likely to take place as early as November 11, and will be the flagship of the magnificent celebrations of the 72nd anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, the People’s Liberation Army of China, which is preparing to demonstrate the world’s latest advances in military technology. . But the massive arms race in China is not only quantitative, but, above all, technologically qualitative, not limited to the new invisible two-seater aircraft, because in these hours it was leaked from reliable sources close to the military leaders of the People’s Liberation Army. China has aggressively increased the number of missile tests to increase the reliability and effectiveness of even these fearsome weapons, including hypersonic nuclear missiles. And timing certainly isn’t causal, because the target of this army’s muscular show may always have the same name: Taiwan.

Today, at the G20 in Rome, the Chinese Foreign Minister slightly threatened “everyone – the United States in the first place – warning the world again – but more forcefully than in the past – that Taiwan is a hot substance, and that it would be better for everyone to refrain from even trying Getting on the road between Beijing and Taipei: “Those who support Taiwan will pay the price,” said Beijing’s chief of diplomacy, more firmly than usual – and with very little diplomacy – Beijing’s chief of diplomacy, Wang Yi, whom they call at home the “silver fox.” So much for his outspoken poetry, but above all for his Machiavellian loathing who is able – as he has already shown on several occasions – to ridicule diplomats, politicians and countries.Yi is a great mahjong player, like all Chinese, and today in Rome, the obvious impression is that he played geopolitical Mahjong against An international team of players.By winning it, of course, or rather, by assigning victory once again to China, has made more noise with an absence – the absence of Xi Jinping – than with any presence, even as prominent, as that of Joe Biden.

Earlier this week, Beijing already warned Washington that its support for Taiwan would carry “tremendous risks” to relations between the two major world powers. After news of US troops on the ground in what Beijing sees as nothing more than a “rebellious province,” which was confirmed by Taiwanese President Tsai Ying-wen in an interview with CNN, the tension increased further, leading up to today. Threat warnings. Beijing’s foreign minister insisted that “the United States and other countries recently tried to achieve détente in Taiwan, contrary to the political guarantees given when they established diplomatic relations with China,” but said again: the idea of ​​”one China” is indisputable, and 1.4 billion people advance in China In promoting the peaceful reunification of the motherland is unstoppable: “In practice – this is in short the thesis of China, declared today by Da Wang – the United States and its allies betray their commitments with China by trying to “communicate” with Taiwan.

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US efforts to develop a two-seat stealth fighter stalled in the 1990s when the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 was abandoned to save money. In early 2010, the Pentagon announced two next-generation programs: the aforementioned NGAD aeronautics and a long-term naval plan known as the F/A-XX to develop next-generation seaplanes to eventually integrate and replace the existing F/A. A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter. China has now proven it can easily replace US military efforts, with this new fighter, whose prototype was first seen (and photographed) a few days ago while riding taxis on the tarmac for flight tests. Southwest Sichuan Province. With this unprecedented two-seater variant of the J-20, China’s aerospace military industry shows that Beijing is now fully capable of developing wholly-owned warfare technology, and no longer needs to rely on foreign technology, as it did in the past. Two-seat stealth fighters have so far been designed as a training aircraft, with the back seat assigned to the trainer. What makes China’s new “Great Dragon” so deadly is the fact that the second pilot is able to independently control the drones close to the aircraft – dubbed “loyal wingmen” by Chinese military designers – in air combat. A frightening combination to say the least.

The impending inaugural flight on November 11 will take place under very different circumstances than the unveiling of the first J-20 Mighty Dragon, which took place on January 11, 2011, during a visit to Beijing by then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, with the aim of defused military tensions between the two countries. Those were the times when that first flight served to demonstrate China’s efforts to increase military transparency, as both sides hoped to enhance mutual political trust. A decade later, the meaning of the two inaugural flights has completely changed. Now it is a pure display of the technical effectiveness of the weapon. China wants to show everyone its ability to use “loyal mass” drones with or without crew, openly defying the US NGAD concept, on the same ground.

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In recent years, China has increased the frequency and scope of military experiments conducted using recognized and/or experimental weapons. Most of China’s missile tests are conducted in secret, but some can be detected by satellites. Earlier this month, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said China fired at least 250 ballistic missiles between January and September, equaling the total number of tests last year. Price did not disclose the number of tests conducted by the United States during the same period, but said that the White House interpreted the Chinese tests as a “rapid expansion of the nuclear capabilities of the People’s Republic of China,” adding that the United States faces “a particularly troubling scenario.” Concern increased in the hours The latest news from Beijing that talks about a significant increase in the number of test flights that Chinese missiles have to face before the start of production, in an attempt to further improve their reliability.In fact, the new air-to-air missiles, previously, had to undergo eight tests during which they hit A moving target, in order to be considered suitable for production; now the minimum requirements have increased to 15. Soon, after this, other parameters such as, for example, checking resistance to attacks by electromagnetic pulses, will also be tested, in which case the new missiles will have to pass 20 test.

Recently, in the specialized magazine Aero Weaponry, military researcher Li Gencheng and colleagues from the Chinese Airborne Missile Academy in Luoyang published an article citing problems about the “unstable quality” of supplies and “unreliable delivery times” for companies. Chinese suppliers. “The high command wanted to solve these problems before mass production” – the article reads – which is why, in order to be able to count on a reliable and final quality check, they decided to launch the new protocol on missile tests. . According to another study signed by chief engineer Liu Yan and his colleagues at the Beijing Institute of Electronic Systems Engineers, published in the journal Modern Defense Technology, the Chinese military is facing an increasing number of quality control problems while developing new weapons. In the past, missiles were tested extensively in different environments – such as deserts or islands – for long periods, but this is no longer possible due to the large number of new weapons that have appeared in recent years. Then, the People’s Liberation Army created a new central task force to oversee the reliability of the new missiles, built a series of test facilities with controlled environments to speed up testing, and plans to use artificial intelligence technology, according to the newspaper.

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Initially, the leaders of the Chinese army put forward two proposals for the creation of new missile protocols. The first relates to firing a new missile that hits the target 15 times without any failure, and the other 27 times, with no more than one failure, to ensure a success rate of more than 90%. But the military’s proposals drew protests from defense contractors in Beijing, who argued that the chances of the new missiles passing these tests would be well below 20 percent. After negotiations, the People’s Liberation Army and state defense companies reached a compromise, in which the contractor produces 50 missiles, from which the military selects 15 missiles at random for testing and the new weapon is released free of charge for deployment if no more than two miss the target.

Reducing the number of missile tests is an important aspect of international arms control treaties, because the more reliable a weapon, the more difficult it becomes for the international community.

Other countries have also had problems when testing missiles. For example, a US Minuteman III ICBM failed to take off during a test flight in May this year. In 2018, the US military had to push the self-destruct button on another Minuteman who developed “anomalies” during a test in the Pacific Ocean.

During a meeting with representatives of the military and defense industry on Tuesday, President Xi Jinping said that “China’s arms and equipment industry has made extraordinary development and historic achievements” over the past five years. Xi urged military and industrial leaders to “strengthen a modern management system while opening new horizons in the production of weapons and equipment,” according to the People’s Daily, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party of China.

The Financial Times recently reported that China has tested two new hypersonic nuclear weapons that can travel at more than five times the speed of sound, a development that a senior US commander called “deeply worrying,” despite Beijing’s denials. It was for a military purpose. China’s Foreign Ministry denied the reports and said the operations were “routine test flights” aimed at recycling spacecraft to reduce exploration costs. The assertion that—and even more so in light of these disturbing new updates about the military escalation that Beijing is designing and using financial resources and technology—did not really convince anyone.