Must Read: report about China fighter development strategies

J-10B with J-20.jpgChina’s fighter upgrading  tends to draw either the scorn of overseas
commentators (‘they still can’t build engines’) or fear (‘by 2020 the J-20 will
dominate the skies over the Himalayas’).

A recent report by the Institute for National Strategic Studies
- ‘Buy, Build, or Steal: China’s Quest for Advanced Military Aviation
- outlines the rise of China’s defence aerospace sector from its obscure
beginnings in the fifties to the appearance of the Chengdu J-20 in early 2011.

The report asserts that while China’s fighter capability is
still roughly 15-20 years behind the west’s, Beijing is increasingly self
reliant in fighter development and production. 
While it does not shed much new light on current developments in China,
it provides a useful history of the starts and stops in China’s fighter technology
base  over the last half century. This includes
China’s on/off defence relationship with Moscow, and its Cold War dalliance
with Israel, the UK, and the USA.

The report does a good job balancing the pros and cons of
buying technology overseas, developing it at home, and acquiring it through
espionage. China has used, and continues to use, all three strategies.  The report concludes that China will find it
increasingly challenging to develop ultra high-end aerospace technologies at
home, which will create an even greater reliance on espionage.  

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