Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What if... Canada bought Chinese?

ShenYang J-31
Another close vote for last week's "What if".  At 37%, the Gripen is the most favored choice for a possible interim fighter for Canada.  Two other options, the Rafale and Super Hornet are almost tied at 26% and 25% respectively.  No love for used Typhoons or other choices, however.

This week's "What if?" goes into completely different territory.  Of all the "What ifs" presented here, it is the most improbable.  No, I have not last my damn mind (that happened long ago).  The whole point of these scenarios is to open up our minds and consider everything, so why not go completely off the deep end?

China does not have a good reputation when it comes to building combat aircraft.  For the most part, their expertise seems to be in designing home-grown versions of Russian aircraft.   China has been combatting this reputation, however.

Knock-off?

While some have dismissed the Chengdu J-10 as a knock off of the stillborn IAI Lavi, closer inspection reveals this to not be the case.  The J-10 has a different wing design, intake, and many other differences.  They are similar, but certainly not carbon copies.

One could be excused for thinking China's new J-31 to be a outright copy of the F-35, however.  Chinese hackers outright stole data pertaining to the JSF, and the two designs are eerily similar.  The J-31 has two engines, but otherwise the two aircraft are near identical.

China is so confident in its new stealth fighter that it is stating that it could even "Take down" the F-35.  This, despite being far less expensive.  This may be a dubious claim, but what if Canada was fed up enough with the state of the JSF that it decided to purchase one of the only other "Fifth Generation" fighters on the market?

Now, Chinese avionics may not be up to snuff compared to western fighters, and their jet engines lag even further behind; but what if Canada were able to stuff proven engines like the GE F414?

I may be completely off-the-wall here, but Canada/Chinese relations are quite healthy, and China certainly is courting buyers for the J-31.  Needless to say, our neighbors to the south may lose their minds over this, but it may just be the wake-up call the JSF program needs.

How about you?  Do you think Canada should consider a "Canadianized" J-31?  Or even the J-20?

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