A top Chinese Air Force official says China will have fifth-generation fighters fielded within eight to 10 years—and that puts them ahead of the timeline Defense Secretary Robert Gates projected in arguing to curtail F-22 production at only 187 aircraft. Various news reports cite comments made last week by Gen. He Weirong, in a China Central Television interview, in which the air force deputy commander said the new aircraft would match or exceed the capability of similar jets in existence today, reports Global Times. Another Chinese officer told GT that the new fighter would definitely be stealthy and have “overwhelming technological advantages” compared to the previous generation. In July, Gates told the Economic Club in Chicago (transcript), Beijing “is projected to have no fifth-generation aircraft by 2020” and would have only “a handful” by 2025. Hmmm. (On China’s new fighter: Aviation Week report; Flight Global report) (For background, Air Supremacy in a Downdraft)
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.