Clapper: J-20 was No Surprise

China’s rollout of the stealthy J-20 aircraft at the end of last year did not catch the US intelligence community off guard, said James Clapper, director of national intelligence, last week. “We have known about this program for a long time and the flight test was not a surprise,” he said in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He continued, “We judge that this event is another indication of China’s aspiration to develop a world-class military, and it is a capability we take seriously. But this program, like others in China, will have to overcome a number of hurdles before reaching its full potential.” China unveiled the J-20 in late December and it flew for the first time—coincidentally, of course—during Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ official visit to China in early January. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell has said US officials aren’t certain at this point how stealthy or capable the J-20 design really is. (Clapper’s prepared remarks)