Will the Chinese Air Force be able to compete with the West in the near future?

Fighter J-31

The latest issue of the popular British weekly The Economist published an unexpectedly bold statement that China will soon create an air force that will compete with the leading Western powers, and in some ways even surpass them. However, despite the fact that over the past two decades, the PLA Air Force (People's Liberation Army of China) has been equipped with the most modern technology, many problems remain unresolved.

So, according to The Economist, the first 5th generation fighter Chengdu J-20 "has a much wider range compared to the F-35 of the US Air Force, and therefore will pose a serious threat to American warships in the Pacific." The intrigue is that no one knows the aforementioned "range" of J-20. Its flight range is known - about 1200 km, while the F-35 has 1017 km, which is quite comparable, and in the presence of refueling, this advantage generally disappears.

In addition, flight range is far from the only indicator that guarantees flight advantages. In addition, the level of avionics, on-board sensors, engines and the HMI is taken into account.

Another point that the British publication mentions: the Chinese military-industrial complex actively cooperates with the private sector, while the United States is skeptical about this.

Finally, The Economist points out the superiority of the Chinese PL-10 and PL-15 air-to-air missiles over their American counterparts. The exception is the Meteor missile, developed in the UK and well proven in Iraq and Afghanistan.