Premature Evaluators

US defense officials “don’t know, frankly, much” right now about the sophistication of China’s J-20 aircraft, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Wednesday. Accordingly, it’s too early to hail this platform as a major, foreboding advance in Chinese aircraft design, he cautioned reporters during a briefing. “The J-20 stories, frankly, that I’ve seen over the past couple weeks . . . have been a little over the top,” he said. He continued, “I would just urge everybody to slow down a little bit on [the] characterizations of the J-20 at this point, given what little we know of it.” For example, defense officials “don’t know” if it features “a fifth gen engine” or if it is “as stealthy as they claim it to be,” he said. Any notion that the J-20’s emergence caught US defense officials by surprise are “off base,” he noted. (Morrell transcript)