When China displayed the prototype of its first ever stealth aircraft, the J-20 in 2010, it sent alarm bells ringing not just in the US but also more importantly in countries across East and South East Asia. China has now joined the foremost ranks of fighter-building nations,
setting off a debate in the West and among China’s immediate neighbors over if and when the J-20 might begin entering service in great numbers and how that may shape the Asia Pacific balance of power.Suddenly, countries ranging from Japan to South Korea to Indonesia have decided to jump onto the stealth bandwagon and co-develop Low Observable fighters with foreign partners.
Since the mid nineties, backers of the F-22 and F-35 fighters, which rely on stealth, have utilized simulations and conferences to uphold the idea that stealth will be an advantage in air combat. We can probably take a deep dive and understand stealth fighter programs of other Asian countries sometime in the future, however for the time being let’s focus on something that is more accessible for the world’s defense companies (east and west) – when will India get its stealth fighter aircraft? As we know, India has started work in earnest with its “strategic partner” Russia to develop a Low Observable (LO) or stealth fighter aircraft. In this regard it’s worth asking an important question: is it worth having a stealth aircraft?