Author: Martin Su
Date: 04-22-12 19:03
The F-22 Raptor is a marvelous piece of engineering. On a scale of 1 to 100 for stealth, I would rate it a "99" (e.g. lose one point for RAM-coated mechanical adjuster for airduct flow). For the J-20 Mighty Dragon, I would rate it a "97" (e.g. lose one point each for canard, ventral fin, and slight bump along exterior airduct; I'm assuming they'll eventually install flat engine nozzles.).
The important insight is that F-22s will never be a factor in a Sino-American conflict. The F-22 has a short combat radius of only 479 miles or 759 km (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-22_Raptor#Specifications).
Fuel drop tanks can't be used in a Sino-American scenario, because the F-22 will become vulnerable and easily detected by Chinese KJ-2000 AWACS. You can try to use somewhat stealthy drop tanks, but it won't matter as I will shortly explain.
A fighter with a short combat radius is dependent on an airbase close to the Chinese coastline. Without a base to resupply fuel or ordnance, a fighter is useless. This is precisely the problem confronting the United States in a conflict scenario with China. Looking at the map below, you will see that the U.S. only has a few bases in Japan and South Korea. These U.S. bases can be easily wiped out by a coordinated strike from Chinese ballistic and cruise missiles.
To avoid this problem, U.S. aircraft will have to be moved to Guam. Unfortunately, Chinese missiles can also destroy Guam and any US fighter aircraft based on Guam will be too far away to engage in combat near the Chinese coastline. Therefore, the only conclusion is that the F-22 Raptor is not a factor in a potential Sino-American conflict.
The US only has a few bases in Japan and South Korea. These bases are extremely vulnerable to coordinated Chinese ballistic and cruise missile strikes.
US missile defense is useless when the other side is launching hundreds or thousands of missiles at you. Furthermore, no one has claimed 100% effectiveness for US missile defense under battlefield conditions. US missile defense is further complicated by the prospects of stealthy Chinese cruise missiles (e.g. HN-2000) and ballistic MARV (maneuverable re-entry vehicle) warheads.
The largest U.S. airbase in Asia is Kadena Air Base in Japan.
"Kadena Air Base is the hub of airpower in the Pacific, and home to the Air Force's largest combat wing -- the 18th Wing -- and a variety of associate units. Together they form "Team Kadena" -- a world-class combat team ready to fight and win from the Keystone of the Pacific.
Nearly 18,000 Americans and more than 4,000 Japanese employees and contractors make up Team Kadena. The base's estimated economic impact upon Okinawa's economy is more than $700 million annually."
U.S. Kadena Air Base, "the hub of airpower in the Pacific," can be destroyed by 34 Chinese missiles with submunition warhead. China has approximately 1,800 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) aimed at Taiwan alone.
"China 'To Target 1,800 Missiles at Taiwan In 2012'
May. 20, 2011 - 06:00AM | By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
TAIPEI - The number of Chinese missiles targeted at Taiwan is likely to reach 1,800 next year, despite improving ties between the former arch-rivals, Taiwanese media said May 20.
The Liberty Times newspaper cited a military intelligence report as providing the forecast.
Taiwanese experts have estimated that China currently has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island, mostly deployed in Fujian and Jiangxi provinces in the mainland's southeast."
[Note: Thank you to Mil-Avia for the pictures.]