China syndromeChina stealth-jet maker eyes U.S. contracts

Published 7 February 2011

Last month China shocked military analysts by unveiling its first stealth fighter; as is the case with many other Chinese technological advances, the technology was stolen from the United States, albeit indirectly: the Chinese fighter was made with technology from a U.S. stealth plane shot down in 1999 by Serbian forces during the Kosovo war; now, the Chinese manufacturer is teaming up with a small California company to bid on U.S. defense contracts, including contracts for stealth aircraft; the Chinese company also wants to bid on the contract to build the new generation of Marine One helicopters, which are used to transport the president (the U.S. president, not China’s)

China's J-20 fighter, copying U.S. technology // Source:

What is the Chinese word for chutzpah? The maker of China’s new stealth fighter plans to team up with a small California firm for what would seem like mission impossible: bidding for U.S. defense contracts, a report said Friday.

China Aviation Industry Corp., or AVIC, is in talks with U.S. Aerospace Inc. about joining forces to seek contracts for projects that could include supplying helicopters used by the U.S. president, the Wall Street Journal said. The report quoted unidentified sources close to the discussions.

The idea appears far-fetched. Previous Chinese moves to enter strategic U.S. sectors have been thwarted after arousing intense political opposition.

AFP reports that this is sure to occur if any Chinese involvement in the defense industry is suggested, especially given growing U.S. concern about China’s expanding armed forces.

A prototype of China’s first stealth fighter — the AVIC-produced J-20 — made its maiden flight last month, shocking observers and underlining the rapid development of China’s military capability.

The plane, unveiled during a visit to China by U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates, is seen as a future rival to the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor, currently the world’s only fully operational next-generation stealth fighter jet.

AVIC is discussing with U.S. Aerospace the possibility of offering the AC-313 — China’s largest domestically produced helicopter — for the next generation of aging Marine One helicopters, which are used to transport the president, the report quoted sources as saying.

They also may put forward AVIC’s new L-15 training jet to replace the U.S. Air Force’s fleet of Northrop T-38s, it said.

The Pentagon is highly concerned about the possibility of China obtaining U.S. military secrets.

Reports have suggested the Chinese stealth jet may have been made with technology from a U.S. plane shot down in 1999 by Serbian forces during the Kosovo war, but a Chinese defense official has rejected that.

AVIC offices were closed Friday for the Lunar New Year holiday.

The Wall Street Journal said U.S. Aerospace is best known for making an unsuccessful bid last year to enter cargo planes made by Antonov, a state-run Ukrainian company, in a competition to supply the US Air Force with a new aerial tanker.