China built its fifth-generation fighter jet by copying US military technology and could keep up its pace challenge for the US military if more is not done to safeguard sensitive weapons information, experts tell Fox News digital.
“What we do know is that due to espionage efforts, [China’s] The J-20 is more advanced than it would otherwise be, and that’s the important point here,” former Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Anderson said in an interview.
“They’ve made great profits from their thefts over the years,” he said. “They’ve put that to good use and come up with an advanced fifth-generation fighter,” noting that it’s “hard to tell without real combat” how the J-20 compares to the U.S. F-22 Raptor fighter.
China began developing its J-20 in 2008 as part of a plan to design a new fighter capable of competing with America’s. The aircraft first took to the air in 2011, with its introduction into service in 2017.
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In 2015, reports on the plane’s technology and capabilities began to note similarities between it and U.S. fighters, with an Associated Press report stating that “some of its technology, it seems, may have come from the U.S. itself.” “.
China now has a fifth-generation stealth fighter, similar to the US F-22, which has further closed what was once a virtually insurmountable gap between the two militaries in terms of technological capabilities, all thanks to continued intellectual property theft. . The gap between US and Chinese military technology has received renewed attention as tensions between the two nations continue to rise and officials continue to discuss a possible invasion of Taiwan, which could include a US military response.
James Hess, a professor at the American Public University System’s (APUS) School of Security and Global Studies, said the United States ultimately must come to terms with China’s “philosophical difference” and willingness to do what it is. “better for China”.
“You can even look into China’s history with a general knowledge of things that have provided improvement for society instead of worrying about it,” Hess said. “That lack of enforcement is probably more indicative of a culture… there’s certainly a cultural aspect to that.”
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“There’s an author who said, ‘Stealing a book is an elegant offense,’ so you have that kind of mindset, that knowledge isn’t necessarily seen as knowledge theft…it’s not seen as a theft in any way.” capital offense,” he continued. “It’s considered a good thing, that this is a good thing you’re doing.”
Anderson explained that China uses a range of espionage techniques from the “old-fashioned” and “low-tech” use of spies and honey traps and bribery to recruit US contractors, university academics and government personnel, as well as more advanced methods such as cyberactivity to obtain key data on military systems.
“Unfortunately, they’ve had some success there,” Anderson said, adding that they’ve spent “well over a decade” repeatedly pursuing the Joint Strike Fighter, which they exploited in the design and construction of the J-20.
“It saves the Chinese time and money. In fact, we end up subsidizing a portion of their R&D 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.”
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Matt McInnis, senior member of the Institute for the Study of War’s China program, highlighted “China’s focus … almost more than anything else” on obtaining jet engine technology after “struggling for decades ” to keep up with US and Western weapons.
“As someone who has watched China for a long time, this is always the joke… will the Chinese ever be able to produce their own jet engine?” McInnis said. “So, they’ve slowly been able to become more independent in creating jet engines for their more advanced aircraft.”
The drive to “understand more sophisticated jet engines” in the West has remained a significant driving force for Chinese espionage, according to McInnis.
He pointed to the 2022 case of Yanjun Xu, a Chinese spy who was convicted of attempting to steal trade secrets from several US aerospace and aviation companies, including theft of proprietary airplane engine fan technology.
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US prosecutors said Xu began recruiting experts from companies like GE Aviation in Cincinnati as early as 2013, but lawyers say he was not a spy and never asked for trade secrets.
“It was a really big win for the United States to be able to solve this particular case, but at the same time, we still look at what China is trying to do with technology, espionage,” McInnis said, adding that China is “still arguably the biggest threat to US national security.”
McInnis also referred to recent efforts that included the recruitment of former British pilots to advise and train People’s Liberation Army Air Force pilots, which provided “another way they attempted to gain Western technical knowledge.” .
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“The Chinese baseline of what the Russians have given them and what they have been able to steal from us and European manufacturers has brought them to maybe only a 10 or 15 year gap between us and Chinese engine technology jet engines, whereas before they were much further back by 20 or 30 years”.