|China's stealth fighter 'based on US technology'
China's new stealth fighter is based on US technology acquired by Chinese spies during the 1999 Kosovo War, according to Croatia's former military chief of staff.
Telegraph | January 23, 2011
China unveiled the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter during a visit to Beijing by Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, this month. The timing of its maiden flight was regarded as a deliberate reminder by China of its growing military might, and caused alarm amongst its Asian neighbours.
Now, the Admiral who was Croatia's chief of staff during the Kosovo War has said he believes that China formulated the technology for its J-20 jet from an American F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter that was shot down over Serbia in March 1999.
"At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents criss-crossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the plane from local farmers," Admiral Davor Domazet-Loso said. "We believe the Chinese used those materials to gain an insight into secret stealth technologies."
The Nighthawk was the world's first stealth fighter, planes that are almost invisible to radar and so able to operate over enemy territory with near impunity. At the time, the US claimed that the downing of one by a Serbian anti-aircraft missile was pure luck. Under its former President Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia routinely shared captured Nato military equipment with China and Russia.
China has a history of being accused of stealing military aircraft technology. Its relations with Russia were strained last year after Moscow accused Beijing of producing near identical versions of its Sukhoi Su-27 fighter and Su-33 naval fighter. China had bought the Su-27, only subsequently to build the similar J-11 fighter. The J-15 naval jet based on the Su-33 is needed for China's new aircraft carriers, the first of which may be launched later this year and which is also believed to be based on a Russian design.