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Combat Jets Like J-11 & J-15 Fighters: Currently, the Chinese PLA Air Force operates the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter. Even since the fifth-generation warplane entered service in 2017, China has been making concerted efforts to manufacture more stealth fighters.
China’s ‘Metamaterial’ Claims
These two fighter jets aren’t very stealthy.
According to SCMP, the Chinese had previously discussed a “ghost illusion gadget”.
All these methods and technological frameworks are too good to be true when it comes to real applications.
Then, there was this suspicion that China illicitly acquired the American technology to fast-track its fifth-generation fighter jet program.
These engines are a modified version of those used on China’s J-10 and J-11 aircraft.
The latest J-20 jets WS-10C engines. Images of a twin-seater variant of the J-20 recently surfaced, indicating China is going full-throttle with the ‘Mighty Dragon’.
Analysts Shoot Down This Idea
An aircraft’s stealth mainly depends on its structure and shape. You could make an aircraft stealthy with a structure that evades the radar but not by the said metamaterial alone.
What this material would achieve might not even be partial stealth because the older aircraft will still emit electronic signals that the radar will readily catch,” opined Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, Senior Research Fellow at the New Delhi-based Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
Joseph P Chacko, a military author, columnist and analyst, also dismissed the idea.
“It is unlikely China applies metamaterial for aircraft skins although one of the state-funded military-focused research institutions called Laboratory of Metamaterials Electromagnetic Modulation Technology has applied for such a patent.
As per CCTV [state-owner brodcaster] in 2018, the lab had installed a production line for the metamaterial and since the lab is associated with military projects, it was hinted that it’s likely being used for aircraft testing.
specially built, hard-to-detect engine inlets; radar-cancelling paint; and cooling systems for lowering a plane’s thermal signature. All of these components seem to be missing from the speculated plan.
Metamaterial appears to be imitating, to some extent, the effect of Radar-Absorbing Material (RAM).
Han Yiping had also explained that there were various shortcomings related to the metamaterial as well, according to National Interest. To begin with, Han claimed that metamaterial is currently only effective against specific radio bandwidth; however, she does not define which ones.
The Chinese aren’t the only ones working on and testing metamaterial.