Defense Official: China Used Stolen U.S. Technology to Develop Its Signature Stealth Fighter

ZHUHAI, CHINA - NOVEMBER 08: J-20 stealth fighter jets perform in the sky on the opening d
VCG/VCG via Getty

A Department of Defense official said the Chinese government leveraged technology stolen from the U.S. to develop its J-20 stealth fighter.

Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Anderson told Fox Digital in a recent interview, “What we know is that because of the espionage efforts, [China’s] J-20 is more advanced than it otherwise would be, and that’s the important point here.”

Forces News described the J-20 as “China’s answer to America’s F-22 raptor,” noting “There are some similarities between the two planes,” leading “to speculation China’s cyber warfare teams stole data from the United States.”

An Air Force fact sheet for the F-22 says the aircraft leverages “[a]dvances in low-observable technologies [to] provide significantly improved survivability and lethality against air-to-air and surface-to-air threats.”

An Australian RAAF F-35A flies over during a media preview ahead of the 2023 Australian International Airshow on February 24, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Alex Coppel/Getty Images)

China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet is seen at the 14th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, south China’s Guangdong Province, Nov. 8, 2022. (Hongchun/Xinhua via Getty Images)

“China continues to make progress in closing the gap with U.S. low-observable designs,” Justin Bronk, a senior research fellow at Royal United Services Institute told Defense News in November.

Though an amendment to the 1997-1998 Department of Defense Appropriations Act effectively banned the export of the F-22 model – even to close allies – to prevent foreign adversaries from reverse engineering its capabilities, intellectual property theft has remained a concern.

Anderson observed to FOX Digital that such theft by the Chinese regime amounts to a subsidy for the People’s Liberation Army:

“It saves the Chinese time and money. In effect, we end up subsidizing a portion of their research and development budget because they are successfully stealing some of our secrets,” Anderson said. “Ultimately, this puts our men and women at greater risk on the battlefield.”

In its 2014 report, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission quoted RAND Corporation analyst David Schlap as saying the advent of the J-20 fighter ‘‘will confront the U.S. military with, in effect, the dilemma that the U.S. AirForce has for 20 years been imposing on adversaries—how to defend against low-observable aircraft.’

’ You can follow Michael Foster on Twitter at @realmfoster.


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