Why did China use the Su-35 and not the so called 5th generation J-20 fighter in the Taiwan Strait?

On Tuesday it was reported that China’s Su-35 fighter jets were seen near Taiwan Strait amid US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s imminent visit to Taipei. But why send Su-35 while China have stealth fighter.

Many times, China criticizes the Russian Su-35 4.5th generation fighter and claims that its own J-16, J-11, and J-20 are considerably superior than the Su-35, yet when it comes to actual deployment, China chooses to employ the Su-35 rather than their allegedly more advanced jet fighter.

Some military experts says that the Sukhoi Su-35 “Super Flanker” is the frontline fighter of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force not the stealth fighter Chengdu J-20. But although the Su-35 lacks stealth capabilities, (offcourse the Su-35 was not originally developed as a Stealth Fighter) but the aircraft has several advantages as compared to the J-20. And it appears that J-20 is still a paper dragon despite its induction being years old.

J-20 engine problem
J-20 with WS-10 engine

The Su-35 is an enlarged and heavily upgraded version of the fourth-generation fighter platform Su-27, it is one of the best aircraft produced by Sukhoi.

The aircraft has the maximum speed of 2,500 kilometers per hour, a range of 3,400 kilometers without aerial refueling, and a combat radius of 1,600 kilometers. The aircraft overall performance is greatly improved as compared with the previous generation fighters such as the Su-30 and Su-27.

Therefore the Su-35 is very much helpful in conducting various different types of military operations for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. The aircraft can fly for a very long time, can carry a heavy mixed armament load according to the mission. It can also carry various types of electronic pods to perform various types of tasks. All of these capabilities makes the Su-35 a long range fighter. The induction of the Su-35 in the PLAAF has greatly improved their overall combat capabilities and the ability to perform advanced tasks.

Another advantage of the Su-35 fighter is that it is equipped with a high-power phased array radar that can detect air targets within a range of 400 kilometers. Therefore, the search capability of the aircraft is very strong, and it also acts as a small early warning aircraft with a large range, a large payload carrying capacity, a long detection distance and a long-range air combat capability.

The Su-35 fighter is a very good long-range fighter. If the Su-35 is equipped with long-range air-to-air missiles such as the PL-15 in chinese service, its attacking range will be improved to 150-200 km, and the aircraft can easily attack high-value targets such as aerial refueling tankers and early warning aircrafts.

China operates a total number of 24 Su-35 jets. The Su-35 is the most capable foreign-built fighter class in the Chinese fleet, the aircraft has a very high degrees of manoeuvrability at all speeds, which makes the aircraft an excellent dogfighter.

In the Chinese service the Su-35 has been seen as the opponent of the American F-15 Eagle Air Superiority Fighter. The Su-35 has been given the role of a long range patrol fighter in the PLAAF.

The responsibility of the J-20 stealth fighter in the PLAAF is not of a tactical patrol fighter. Low-end tasks such as patrolling, guarding, escorting are not the jobs of the J-20 stealth fighter. The job of the J-20 fighter is to use its speed and stealth advantages to scout the enemy’s situation and act as the core of the attack.

The Chinese J-20 fighter coupled with the combination of long-range air-to-air missiles is good enough to perform various types of missions. At the same time, the J-20 can also take advantage of battlefield perception to form a combat cloud of manned fighters and drones through high-speed data links, forming a panoramic combat map for the entire battlefield hence it can effectively support and coordinate with other fighters.

Therefore, the mission positioning of the Su-35 fighter and the J-20 fighter is completely different. In addition, the J-20 is stealthy, and jets without advanced radars cannot detect it on the battlefield.

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