Photos leaked online that appear to show a prototype of China's first stealth fighter jet were discussed in state media Wednesday — a move that supports claims the country's military aviation program is advancing faster than expected.
Both the English and Chinese language editions of the Global Times ran front-page articles on the photos of what appears to be a future J-20 fighter, along with extensive reports on the buzz the pictures have generated overseas.
Now even if this fighter does take a test flight soon, it is still years out from being in the Chinese arsenal. Any sense of security that may create is an illusion, though. Unless you continue to push your R&D, regardless of the field, someone else who pushes their R&D with greater diligence will likely surpass you sooner than you think. New product development is not a spigot that just turns on at full speed, either. If the Chinese catch up and then get a jump on us, it will take years before our pipeline of cutting edge military technology is producing fast enough for us to get back in the game. This may indeed be the Chinese century if we are not forward thinking in all fields.