At a time when Russia is facing isolation from the West, its Iron Brother ‘China has cemented closer ties with Moscow. In the latest revelation, the Chinese PLA Air Force (PLAAF) has said that its J-20 and Russia’s Su-57, both stealth fighters, could participate in a joint combat patrol.
Last week, China’s Ministry of National Defense announced that the Chinese and Russian air forces conducted a joint strategic patrol over the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea, and the Western Pacific as part of their annual military cooperation plan.
While the Chinese PLA Air Force sent its advanced H-6K strategic bombers, the Russian space forces sent its Tu-95MS strategic missile vessels to the Joint Strategic Patrol.
But in a surprising development, Chinese military experts have indicated that stealth fighters from the two air forces, J-20 and Su-57, could soon lead these joint patrols.
The development is significant in light of unhindered Sino-Russian cooperation, which has been perceived as a security threat by the United States.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and television commentator, told The Global Times recently reported that in order to deal with the ever-changing battlefield environment and to improve combat capabilities, China needs enough fighter jets to ensure that strategic air patrols can be executed reliably, efficiently and safely.
He indicated that more advanced equipment, such as China’s J-20 stealth fighters and Russia’s Su-57 stealth fighters, could join the next joint patrol. According to Song, this would result in a significant increase in the fleet’s overall combat capacity.
Although heavy bombers are formidable assets, fighter jets are often required to escort these bombers as they are not designed for air-to-air combat. But on the other hand, a stealth fighter could effectively participate in air battles with far great success because of its ability to evade radars.
VIDEO: Chinese H-6K bombers and Russian Tu-95MS bombers conducted regular joint strategic patrols over the Sea of Japan, the E. China Sea and the Western Pacific on Tuesday. The plane complied with international rules and did not violate the airspace of any other country: the Russian Ministry of Defense pic.twitter.com/771mVKjqW0
– Global Times (@globaltimesnews) May 24, 2022
The threat of J-20 patrolling with Su-57 becomes even more dangerous as the PLAAF J-20 stealth fighter was already deployed for patrol training in the East China Sea and the South China Sea in April.
The move was aimed at counteracting the presence of American stealth fighters who appeared in the disputed region, as previously reported by EurAsian Times.
The presence of stealth fighters in the same region where the Chinese and Russian bombers flew last week could lead to an escalation of tensions, especially as both Beijing and Moscow remain stuck in a battle with Japan.
China’s consistent warfare against Taiwan and a wave of military exercises that took place in April also paint a rather dangerous picture.
President Joe Biden had recently stated that the United States would intervene militarily if China were to launch an invasion of Taiwan. The stealth fighters from the conflicting air force patrolling the region inhabited by loyal American allies can escalate many tensions at a time when the region has become a major hotspot.
In addition, the Global Times report also revealed that the Chinese bombers on their latest joint patrol were not alone on their journey. The PLAAF J-16 fighter jet, which is the most frequent visitor to Taiwan’s ADIZ, escorted the H-6K bombers.
J-16 bomber cover
China’s J-16 fighter jets were observed participating in a Sino-Russian joint patrol for the first time on Sunday, according to China Central Television (CCTV), which showed a picture of two J-16s flying alongside a Chinese H-6K bombers and a Russian Tu-95MS bomber.
According to Chinese military experts, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it was sending Su-30SM fighter jets as an escort, suggesting China’s J-16 deployment was deployed as a reciprocal arrangement.
NEW PICTURE: Two Chinese J-16 fighter jets escorted H-6K bombers and Russian Tu-95MS bombers during joint strategic air patrol on 24 May.
Photo from Weibo / 央视 军事
– Ryan Chan 翹 翹 (@ryankakiuchan) May 29, 2022
Since the strategic bombers are not designed to participate in air-to-air combat, observers stated that having fighter jets as escorts is also combat-oriented, noting that both China’s J-16 and Russia’s Su-30 are heavy fighter jets that can contribute to the joint patrol’s overall combat readiness.
As can be seen in the picture, each J-16 was equipped with two PL-10 approaching combat missiles; However, the J-16 can also carry long-range air-to-air missiles, as the unnamed expert pointed out.
The J-16’s high range, twin engines, twin seats, enormous fuel capacity and in-flight refueling capacity make it, according to the expert, ideal for long-distance escort operations.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force had been monitoring the joint patrol of China-Russia, according to the joint staff of the Ministry of Defense, although the presence of the J-16s and Su-30s was not mentioned in the press release.
Analysts speculated that the Chinese and Russian fighter jets had only partially escorted the bombers and did not reach close enough to Japan’s identification zone, or that Japan simply missed them.