Stealth Around the World

Here’s a great shot from China Defense Blog of China’s J-20 stealth fighter alongside Russia’s Sukhoi PAK FA and the American F-22 Raptor.

I’m no low-observable design expert, but the undersides of the Raptor and J-20 look a heck of a lot cleaner than the Russian jet. This fits reports that the jet’s design trades stealth for increased maneuverability compared to the F-22.

Also, where’s the space for the internal weapons bay on the PAK FA; between the engines, forward of what looks like an aft-EW suite? It’s been reported that the weapons are carried there and in the two bulbs that can bee seen next to the air intakes.

  • JOHNS381

    I thought I read somewhere that the PAK-FA would have a cleaner underside when the final engines were developed. Anybody if this is true?

  • IknowIT

    The J-20 looks like a box or a toy; Totally unsophisticated (looking). Those exposed engines on the PAK-FA will make nice IR targets. Agree and have said before that the PAK FA is too small to carry stores internally, while the J-20 looks too large for the air-air role.

    • QF74

      Isn’t the PAK-FA larger than our F-22?

    • good_reader

      “Those exposed engines on the PAK-FA will make nice IR targets. ”

      No. The current( intermediate) engine of flying T-50-1 (first PAK-FA fighter jet) is Saturn’s 117. It’s has some meansures to significantly reduce IR-signature: exhaust cooling (due engine design) and widely separated engines. These should work great at supercruise speeds.
      With the afterburner, F-22’s engine(like engine of any other fighter jet) has a quite large IR-signature (look at airshow IR-photos with F-22 demonstration).

    • good_reader

      “Those exposed engines on the PAK-FA will make nice IR targets. ”

      No. The current( intermediate) engine of flying T-50-1 (first PAK-FA fighter jet) is Saturn’s 117. It’s has some meansures to significantly reduce IR-signature: exhaust cooling (due engine design) and widely separated engines. These should work great at supercruise speeds.
      With the afterburner, F-22’s engine(like engine of any other fighter jet) has a quite large IR-signature (look at airshow IR-photos with F-22 demonstration).

    • altor

      not too large: j-20 could carry long range air to air missiles.

  • belesari

    The J-20 has those cannards forward which will make likely more manuverable at low speeds but restrict its speed and create alot of drag.

    The F-22 is the superior of the 3. That said the DoD and such seem to have decided to go with mass producing a inferior plane compared to what our enemies will be fielding with the J-20 and the PAK-FA. F-35’s will die in droves if the have to fight one of there basterds.

    Restart the F-22 line sell them to Japan also and buy a couple hundred more atleast for the airforce. Lose some of the F35s and F-15s. Transfere the A-10’s and AC-130’s to the army.

    • Lance_HBomb

      Since when was China and the Russian Federation our enemies? They’re rivals at most, but nowhere near being enemies.

      • belesari

        See there is this little word you must add to that sentence. Yet it changes everything.

        ‘…nowhere near being enemies, Now.”

        Generals and politicans have seen countless plans destroyed by the march of time.

        And people sell these planes to those who are or could also become our enemies.

      • Justin H

        You must not read Russian and Chinese blogs and news commentaries (partial-to fully government controlled). Basically they say “The U.S is the main threat to our expansion, and we must build up our military to counter them.”

    • Jay

      Continuing F-22 production would also save about 50,000 US jobs. If we sell to Japan and other allies (Aus and Israel also wanted to buy it) we could recoup development costs. We could also upgrade the F-22 using the newer software developed for the F35.

      F-22s based in Japan would be the best possible tacair deterrant to China. F-22 carries 8x AAM vs 4x on the F-35.

      • blight

        The alternative is that the Americans are concerned that a nation could flip and field this stuff against American forces. Just like Iran was receiving America’s latest and greatest before the revolution. I imagine shipping stuff to nations for decades and watching them fall got unpleasant after a while.

  • hqi777

    I’ve been waiting for a nice photo like this comparing the three.

    The J-20’s engines corrupt attempts to gain any stealth, along with those fins in the aft.

    A large enough weapons bay will be built into the T-50. Russia doesn’t need excessive space as their missiles aren’t much larger than ones developed by the US.

  • asdf

    the PAK FA doesn’t have DSI (diverterless sup. inlet)?

  • Marcase

    The PAK-FA has two internal bays, positioned in tandem, between the engines. Depending on type, it can carry 4-8 AAMs internally for “Day One” missions.

    The Russians decided for a good “bow tie” stealth profile instead of going all-aspect F-22 LO, to keep costs down - whether that is a smart move is still to be decided, as PAK-FA still needs to be mass produced.

  • Oli

    To me they seem to be copies of American and European designs that pak fa = f22 and the j-20 = the Eurofighter or they probably purchased the design from the failed Russian program mig 1.44 did not have the funding. From other pictures I’ve seen the j20 resembles the yf 23.

  • Maxtrue

    Without digressing into support for the Raptors, we must move past these air craft to the next level. I am glad to see the logic of a super F-22B is not lost in discussions of the new bomber. In the modern battle field it must have the attributes of these air craft above on steroids…..…

    We need stealth, super cruise, advanced avionics and payload capacity. We should up grade our Raptors, but the next level is shaping up to be our best move. A stealthy, multi-role manned bomber may end up being the last manned air craft of significance we produce before the Era of smart drones and DEW.

    They could be as game changing as this was 100 years ago today:…

  • SC578

    Obviously the F22 is likely to be the more sophisticated plane, given that the US has been at the forefront of aerospace technology for a century. However, it seems to me that the 3 key questions are these:

    1. The J20 probably isn’t a match for the F22, but how long before they build something that is? They’ve already come a long way in a short time.
    2. How many J20s can they afford compared to how many F22s the US can afford? Especially given that Uncle Sam will have to borrow the money from China to buy them.
    3. Why are we worrying about F22/F35 vs J20 when none of them are any use against the RPG/IED toting hordes of central Asia. China and the West both need stability and trade, the mullahs don’t. Time to realise we’re on the same team.

  • WD Campbell

    Again, stealth is more than a design. It’s materials. If shape were the only quality to low observability, blimps would be in the forefront of aero-design. And while LO is acheived, it isn’t complete. Operations are designed to avoid detection by avoiding enemy radar installations.
    And then there is the obvious, if any are seen by eye, no amount of stealth will help. Then it’s plane vs plane, pilot vs pilot and in those circumstances, I like our chances more than China’s or Russia’s.

  • bobby

    Rather that look at a 1-to-1 comparison, imaging a mass producted J-20 with sub-F-22 capability but still in the ball park. Then put 5 x J-20 vs 1 x F-22 dogfight (and scale that). It an’t going to be pretty but in a numbers game China will win.

    They don’t have to equal the F-22 they just have to get in the ball park and then outnumber them.

    • @Earlydawn

      That’s really not germane to the technical comparison, though. On the strategic level, China’s numbers advantages could be countered through a wide variety of methods, like standoff attacks against airbases and long range anti-air systems based in Korea or Taiwan. This is a pure discussion of the tactical-level technological comparison.

    • anonimous

      Just wait until we bring out the railguns, the armies of robots including the Big Dog that can navigate almost any terrain and maintain it’s balance while carrying huge amounts of supplies, the ultra wide band cameras that let us see through walls, the smart bullets that correct their trajectory to hit targets in addition to our l intercepting-missile lasers, LRADs, XM-25s and all the stuff we DON’T know about.
      We’re developing power armor right in public view, yet very few recognize what’s going on.
      We’re one next generation power source away from giant mechs.
      Add that to the invisibility cloaks and carbon nanotube fibers that absorb light and trap it for snipers on top of the weapon systems that allow them to hit a target from around 2 miles away with an explosive round.
      Our boys are deploying iPhones and iPads into the field for advanced data management and issuance of orders while tracking the battlefield in real-time.
      We almost had electric, automated tanks.
      A Chinese stealth fighter is no threat to us, especially with a fleet of Raptors and pilots who have actual EXPERIENCE piloting them.
      I would love to see a J-20 in it’s first dog fight against a Raptor with an experienced pilot.
      I’m ranting, but you get the idea…

  • Sean

    F-35, Need I say more.

  • Rob

    My observations to this all being at same size, the Chinese version seems to have the largest volume , thus can carry the most fuel.

    I’d like to know which is the largest because if the Chinese version does have the most fuel capacity it is then created for only one use, to get to us.

    I would have hoped by now Russia and China would be at peace with NATO even apart of it…

    Logistically we have the advantage being spread over planet but China has the future capability of out numbering us on every weapon in conventional warfare 5 fold atleast.

    • belesari

      Dont believe it has supre cruise also its design means it will have to deal with more drag.

      All of this means more fuel consumption. Plus they may also see a future in turning it into a F/B or it may just be to have more missiles.

  • IknowIT

    From looking at it, and reading other’s posts, it seems very likely that the J-20, should it ever be produced and have half of the capability we think it has, is more about stealth attack than air-air. Still, I don’t believe it will be mass produced, deployed, and stealthy.

  • Jusitn H

    I think we will see China’s real answer to the F-22 and PAK-FA in 5-10 years. The J-20 is just their attempt at an FB-22.

  • Doz

    Its totally pointless to comment on the design of the T-50 / PAK FA and J-20 compared to the F-22A at this early stage in their development. The T-50 prototype is just that - a prototype (for aerodynamic purposes), with no account being made for the numerous low-RCS optimizations to be made later in development. Same with the J-20.

    • IknowIT

      Good. Then they will still be at least one gen behind us.

    • Shawn

      Exactly. The current F-22A design differs from the original YF-22 design as shown here:…

      So there’s a good chance that the T-50/PAK FA and J-20 will see similar optimizations/changes later on.

      • blight

        Not that many differences. If there are differences, it might also be based on surface angles which wouldn’t even come out at all on a dorsal drawing of YF and F-22.

      • Justin H

        When was the last time a Russian or Chinese plane varied from prototype to production model?

  • good_reader

    The PAK-FA has four internal weapons bays:

    1) Two elongated bays between the engines for various types of missiles:

    - Anti-ship cruise missiles (up to 2 in two bays)

    - The successor of R-37 ultra-long range air-to-air missiles (up to 4 in two bays). The killer of AWACS, aerial tankers and bombers with the range ~400KM (~250 miles). It could be used against targets such as fighter jets with max G-load >8G.

    - Medium range missiles, new generation of R-77 with significantly improved range (>200 Km). (Up to 8 missiles in two bays)

    - Air-to-ground missiles including anti-radiation missiles (up to 2-4 in two bays)

    + Optional external pylons for weapons

    2) Two side weapons bays for short-rage air-air missiles
    - The successor of R-73/R-74 “dogfight” missile (2 missiles in two bays)

  • Tony C

    The issue of manueverability J-20 verus F-22A is the J-20 uses the Eurofighter canard approach and teh F-22A uses vectored thrust. Vectored thrust will give more uniform results and doesn’t change with altitude and temperature. The issue of stealth remains to be seen on the J-20, looks like a knockoff from the Typhoon to me.

  • SC578

    Thinking about the size of the thing…if you wanted to extend your reach over the water but you didn’t have viable carriers or island FOBs, a long range fighter-bomber is one of the things you’d need.

  • matjaz

    Comparing fighter to F22 on from the same viewpoint is wrong ,PAK-FA and J20 are meant to operate on their own turf (or close territory ,Taiwan,Georgia )with good radar and AAM coverage F22 and JSF on the other hand are both meant to operate over foreign land possibly in well defended airspace and that means they need stealth much more that the opposition +stealth is rapidly deminishing with new radar technology which will definetly be a problem for JSF that is one trick pony

  • Justin H

    Russia still strongly believes super-manuverability is a key feature for fighters, whether they be stealth or not.

  • John Moore

    Anyone else getting anoyed at how slow this site has become?

    • tee

      It’s because of their new video service ”” it loads all the videos on the page you hit and slows everything to a crawl. It’s old tech ( which it is ) or they haven’t really adjusted the setting properly in the control panel. DOD Buz is the same.

  • good_reader

    “Russia still strongly believes super-manuverability is a key feature for fighters, whether they be stealth or not.”

    Yes, PAK-FA was designed with a superior manuverability in mind. Thats why:

    - Large wings and underfuselage tunnel for better lift generation
    - Small all-moving vertical tails that gives not only superior supersonic manoeuvrability, but also gives advantage for reduction of radar visibility.
    - Movable LERX. Better balancing capability and additional agility which is much better and smarter solution than non-stealthy canards on J-20.
    - Widely separated engines for 3D thrust-vectoring. It also gives a better IR-signature reduction and survivability.

    As for stealth, i could agree. Russians didn’t forget about it too. Just look at fronal view of the T-50-1. It’s definitely stealth airframe with a very large usage of composite materials. Production model would have radar absorbent coating, frameless canopy and “stealthy” engines.
    Russians taking BVR capability very seriously as well. Thats why PAK-FA will have FIVE radars (main and side-looking X-band, L-band), integrated 360-degreee IRST, new generation of air-air missiles (some of these missiles with a notably long range).

    • Justin H

      I wish they hadn’t cut IRST from the F-22 (they might regret that). Russian missiles, though modern, lack real combat experience.

      • William C.

        Personally I believe the ideal F-22C would include the two once-planned AESA side arrays, the cut AIRST, and perhaps something like the F-35’s EODAS.

        But besides for the F-22 I believe the USAF needs something rather larger to serve as a fighter-bomber. The FB-22 looks promising but so does the FB-23, and I’m sure there are a few other designs aerospace companies might offer.

    • William C.

      What has indicated the IRST on the PAK-FA is 360-degree? Also the two L-band radars are of questionable utility. Even if they are somewhat better at detecting stealth aircraft they are significantly smaller and less capable than the main X-band radar.

    • chaos0xomega

      Personally, I think Russia has it right. It’s only a matter of time (if they don’t already have the capability) before the Russians develop AESA/radars similar to our own, capable of tracking F-22s and F-35s despite their ‘stealth.’ At that point, it won’t matter which plane is stealthier, the aircraft capable of outmaneuvering the other (more importantly, avoiding the opponents missiles) is going to be the winner.

  • Michael

    I like the pictoral comparison. Shouldn’t the F-35 be up there too?

  • Lance

    I don’t see no weapons bay on the J-20 either I think its inferior to both the F-22 and PAK-FA. I also see w/o vectored thrust its far less maneuverable to the F-22A and F-15 as well. It’ll be 5 to 10 years before we see production aircraft so I wouldn’t worry anyway. Keep F-22s F-15s and dump the F-35 and go for either the EF-2000 or a new lighter fighter for support.
    All this hype over China is unfounded since most of there weapons are still Junk in quality. there quantity is more fearful.

    • Justin H

      They are flush underneath. Search for J-20 pics.

    • tiger

      Lance you have no clue. Junk in quality my ass.

  • BillySee

    Or serve to justify the paranoia of other people, but sure, your idea could be true too. Let’s call it a point of contention. But I think we can all agree that they don’t get invited to dinner parties as often.

  • jessmo

    So you want to dump the F-35 and totally abandon the entire U.S.
    Tac air, and strike force?
    Do you really believe the J-20 or the T-50 are more stealthy than the F35?
    What about the navy marines and allies?
    The amount of Ignorance pm the F-35 has become sickening

  • tiger

    To all the arm chair procurement folks Stop with the F-22 restart BS. It’s not going to happen!!!! It’s done. We need tankers, not mig chasers right now. We need “Something” for the USMC & RN Fleet Air Arm. Most of all, Till Bin Laden get Air power, the DOD money is not going into fast jets.

    • crackedlenses

      No one is saying that we don’t need new tankers or a hundred other things. We do have to be ready to oppose Chinese weapons, as there is no telling if we will encounter them in the hands of bin Laden’s buddies…..

  • nonito d. cabato

    just buy more F-22A block 35 increment 3.3 version, a thousand of them! Retire most the legacy fighter for example for every 40 plane F-22’s bought retire 100 hundreds of the legacy fighter! Just for the navy just buy the navalized F-22, 576 of them. Buy buy the next generation bomber 300 of them! Lastly for close air support use the F-35B!

    How you do this demobilized all your base around the world. cancel all foreign aids all over the wolrd, the sole jobs of the president to defend the country FIRST, let defend their country by themselves, idf they CANT they have no rights to be a nation

  • Billy

    LOL China isn’t the only country making bootleg materials. Nice Knock Off versions of the Raptor though.

    • blight

      What remains interesting is the use of a combination of L-band and X-band radars, the former as a means of mitigating X-band optimized Low-observability. However, until it goes up against F-22 it remains to be seen if such a feature works in the field.