First F-35 encounter, D-20 – After a near miss, the United States “reply” Chinese stealth fighters to fight USAF fighter jets

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Months after USAF Pacific Air Force Commander General Kenneth Wilsbach revealed the F-35 had a close encounter with the Chinese J-20 fighter jet over the South China Sea eastern, the U.S. Air Force forms an F-35 aggressor squadron to “replicate the threat emerging from China”.

Following the US commander’s revelations and his unusually positive comments on the Chinese fighter, the PLA Air Force deployed the J-20 “Mighty Dragon” to train patrols in the East and South China Seas amid rising tensions with the West over the Taiwan issue. .

At the time of the deployment, a Chinese military analyst, Song Zhongping, told Chinese state media Global Times that the J-20 would be deployed to potential battlefields and at sea, especially when US F-35 fighters and F-22s were operating near China. .

In what could be seen as a US strategy to prepare for a future confrontation, on June 9, the US Air Force restored the 65th Aggressor Squadron (AGRS) at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The unit will fly only the F-35A Lightning II and focus on emulating China’s superior airpower capabilities.

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F-35A Lightning II

The unit’s first two aircraft were featured in a new custom aggressor paint scheme that takes advantage of existing radar-absorbing coatings.

“Due to the growing threat posed by the PRC [People’s Republic of China] development of fifth and sixth generation fighters, we need to use some of our everyday fifth generation aircraft today at Langley, Elmendorf, Hill, Eielson and now Nellis, to replicate the fifth generation capabilities of the adversary,” said said Air Combat Command Commander Gen Marc Kelly.

“Precisely because we have this credible threat, when we reproduce a fifth generation opponent, it must be done in a professional manner. They are the aggressors.

Although the US Air Force has not named the J-20 directly, it is the PLA Air Force’s only advanced fifth-generation stealth fighter to date.

China is working on producing another fifth-generation fighter, the JF-31, but it won’t enter service for at least a few years. The F-35 aggressor squadron would then potentially mimic the Chinese J-20 fighters.

“The attackers themselves represent a huge conglomeration of subject matter experts who focus primarily on Russia and China. The 65th will be focused on China, and we’re talking about doctrine, their training and their capabilities so that when [the 65th AGRS is] fly, we actually model the pacing challenge as closely as possible, Colonel Scot Mills, commanding officer of 57e The operations group said The war zone.

For the first time during Red Flag-Nellis 21-3, the 57th Operations Group introduced dedicated F-35 aggressors to extend the F-16 Fighting Falcon aggressors assigned to the 64th AGRS.

The F-35s will be used in major Air Force combat exercises, U.S. Air Force Weapons School missions, joint exercises, and operational test and evaluation events that are conducted only at the air base. de Nellis and the Nevada Test and Training Range.

Mills also said the F-35 as an aggressor allows pilots to train against low-observable threats similar to those that adversaries develop.

A squadron of aggressors is formed to act as an opposing force. Aggressor squadrons simulate air warfare using enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures rather than training against own forces.

Recognition by the United States of the power of the J-20?

Air Combat Commander General Mark Kelly’s acknowledgment of the growing threat from fifth- and sixth-generation fighter development in China indicates that the Air Force is aware of the challenges facing a growing arsenal of fighter jets. PLAAF fight.

As tensions continue to rise between the bitter rivals, raising the F-35 Aggressor Squadron would allow the USAF to improve its combat capability against China.

Activation of the Aggressor Squadron was approved in 2019 by the then Air Combat Command Commanding General and the Secretary of the Air Force to increase training in the development of fifth generation fighter tactics , advanced training of large forces and support for operational tests.

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USAF 65th Aggressor Squadron reactivates in Nellis with F-35 fighters (via Twitter)

Previously, from 2005 to 2014, the 65th AGRS was stationed at Nellis. With a fleet of F-15 Eagles, the unit mimicked likely adversary tactics and procedures during this time. The aggressor mission was continued by the 64th AGRS with F-16 Fighting Falcons after the F-15 Eagles were inactivated, according to a press release from Nellis Air Force Base.

Going forward, the 65th Aggressor Squadron will be equipped with first-production F-35As, the first of which was delivered to the resident 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) in 2013 and was revealed to Nellis on June 9 in its new aggressor system .

“There have been discussions about taking F-35s and putting them in an aggressor unit, but the fact is we have old [build] Lots of F-35s that will never be combat-coded – we’re going to take those assets, reduce some of their capabilities, and make them a perfect representation of Chinese threats,” Mills explained.

When admitting that the F-35 had an encounter with the J-20, General Kenneth Wilsbach said: “We are seeing a relatively professional flight and it is still too early to say exactly what they have l intention to do with [the J-20] – whether it’s more like an F-35 capable of many missions or more like an F-22 which is primarily an air superiority fighter with air-to-ground capability.

Furthermore, using the decision to use the F-35 as an aggressor aircraft to counter China aligns with the common view within the US security establishment that China will eclipse US military superiority in the future. 2035.

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File Image: J-20

At a meeting of the Air Force Association in September last year, US Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Brown Jr. said the PLA possessed “largest air forces in the Pacific” and developed them “under our noses”.

Brown also claimed that China would have eclipsed US air superiority by 2035, as previously reported by the EurAsian Times.

On the one hand, China has increased its belligerence against Taiwan by carrying out military exercises, intrusions into its airspace, and even by partially simulating an attack.

On the other hand, US President Biden announced that Washington would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan. Consequently, the stakes are high in the region and the United States appears to be preparing for potential conflict.

F-35 versus J-20

The F-35 Lightning II is a multi-role stealth fighter aircraft designed to perform air superiority and strike missions. It is a single-seat, single-engine multi-role stealth fighter aircraft that can fly in all weathers. It also has electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

The F-35A is a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft, the F-35B is a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft, and the F-35C is a carrier-based aircraft (CV/CATOBAR) aircraft.

The Chengdu J-20, on the other hand, is known to be a multirole stealth fighter designed to conduct ground assault missions in difficult terrain. The aircraft’s delta wings allow it to fly at supersonic speeds and reach higher altitudes.

Besides the American F-22 Raptor, the F-35 Lightning II and the Russian Su-57, the J-20 is the only operational fifth-generation stealth fighter in the world.

In 2021, China was known to have built 150 J-20 stealth fighters. On the other hand, the United States Air Force (USAF) had over 280 F-35As. He intended to purchase 1,763. This figure does not include the B and C variants of the F-35. In addition, a growing number of allied nations are buying F-35s.

In response to a question about the production capacity of the J-20, Wang Haitao, the aircraft’s deputy designer, told China’s state-run Global Times that China’s aviation industry can meet any PLA Air Force request.

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