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China: Around The Nation

Can you differentiate China’s J-20 and J-31 fighter jets? Taiwan’s defence minister and air force chief can’t

Taiwanese officials slammed for not being able to tell difference between Beijing’s latest stealth aircraft

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 November, 2016, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 November, 2016, 10:13am

Taiwan’s defence minister and its air force chief of staff failed a lawmaker’s test asking them to differentiate two of Beijing’s latest stealth fighter jets during a legislative meeting on Tuesday.

The lawmaker, Tsai Shih-ying, showed Taiwanese defence minister Feng Shih-kuan and air force chief Fan Ta-wei photos of two stealth fighters that Beijing has been developing and asked the officials to name the jets, Taiwanese newspaper China Times reported.

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On the pictures in Tsai’s slideshow, one jet featured two pairs of wings while the other had only one pair of large wings in the centre of the aircraft.

Both officials answered “J-20” to the photos, but when probed further by Tsai, a Democoratic Progressive Party lawmaker, to say exactly which plane was the J-20, Feng was stumped while Fan identified the wrong plane, the report said.

The J-20 – which made its debut public appearance at China’s biggest airshow in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, this week – has two pairs of wings. It has a smaller pair of wings in front and a bigger pair behind.

The J-31, on the other hand, has just one large pair of wings in its middle.

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Tsai, the lawmaker, then questioned whether Taiwan’s fighter jets could stand up to Beijing’s J-20.

“Compared with the J-20, do we have confidence in our upgraded F-16s,” Tsai asked. “Do you think you are confident? We have spent NT$110 billion [on these jets].”

Feng responded: “The minister’s answer is ‘yes, we are confident.’”

Taiwan plans to buy F-16V fighters from the United States to upgrade its existing F-16 fleet by 2022.

A DPP-friendly Sanlih E-Television news report later lambasted Feng for being “too dumb” to differentiate between the two stealth fighters, referring to the incident as an “embarrassment”.

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Feng, a former air force attache, was suspended as a Kuomintang member earlier this year for not notifying his party after he accepted the defence minister post in the independence-leaning DPP-ruled government.

After he took office in May, he also sparked controversy by declaring that he did not support Taiwan independence.