According to Kenneth Willsbach, commander of the US Pacific Air Forces Command, the US F-35 stealth fighter has recently “encountered” with the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter in the East China Sea.
A top US Air Force (USAF) general says that Lockheed Martin F-35s have had at least one encounter with Chengdu J-20s, and that the Shaanxi KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft has a key role in long-range air-to-air kill chains.
USAF General Kenneth Wilsbach, Commander, Pacific Air Forces did not, however, divulge when the F-35/J-20 encounter took place, or if there have been more than one. He also touched on the role of the new Chinese fighter.
“It’s a bit early to say what they intend to do with the J-20, so really all we’ve seen it do is air superiority,” he says.
“But we notice that they are flying it pretty well. We recently had – I wouldn’t call it an engagement – where we got relatively close to the J-20s along with our F-35s in the East China Sea, and we’re relatively impressed with the command and control associated with the J-20.”
Wilsbach made the remarks during a discussion posted on the YouTube channel of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
“We’re seeing relatively professional flying and it’s still too early to tell exactly what they intend to do with [the J-20] – whether it’s going to be more like an F-35 that’s capable of doing many, many missions or more like an F-22 that is primarily an air superiority fighter that has an air-to-ground capability.”