U.S. intelligence apparently failed to figure out how quickly the Chinese were developing their newest fifth generation J-20 stealth fighter, which U.S. government analysts now say was based on critical U.S. stealth technology transfers that happened while Bill Clinton was president, according to a report.
Vice Adm. David Dorsett, director of naval intelligence, said that officials were aware of the development of the J-20, which is supposed to be comparable to the U.S. F-22 stealth fighter, but "the speed at which (the Chinese) are making progress, we underestimated."
The U.S. has halted production of the F-22 and is switching to the more advanced F-35, whose production and cost overruns make any timely operational status problematic.
The Chinese hope to deploy the J-20 by 2017.
Dorsett further indicated that intelligence failed to detect how quickly the Chinese are developing more than a dozen other weapons systems such as new and quieter submarines, long-range cruise missiles and other asymmetric warfare capabilities that differ significantly from the U.S. in terms of military power and resources.
Other military analysts say that the Chinese J-20 is an interim fighter until it can perfect a more robust jet engine that will be in a position to challenge the F-35. Experts say that the J-20 exhibits radar-evading stealth features, an advanced electronically scanned array radar and the ability to fly at supersonic speeds for long distances using less fuel.
With refueling, analysts say that the J-20 gives the Chinese force projection to be able to reach Guam where the U.S. has major military assets.
The reason for the accelerated pace at which the Chinese have developed the stealth J-20 is due to critical U.S. technology transfers through joint ventures with BP America in precursors and resins; Hexcel in pre-impregnated composite fiber technology; and Sikorsky in the manufacture, layup, shaping and know-how.