| GEO World|
| New Chinese fighter jet expected by 2018: US|
| Updated at: 0937 PST, Friday, May 21, 2010|
WASHINGTON: China is building an advanced combat jet that may rival within eight years Lockheed Martin Corp's F-22 Raptor, the premier US fighter, a US intelligence official said.
The date cited for the expected deployment is years ahead of previous Pentagon public forecasts and may be a sign that China's rapid military buildup is topping many experts' expectations.
"We're anticipating China to have a fifth-generation fighter operational right around 2018," Wayne Ulman of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center testified on Thursday to a congressionally mandated group that studies national security implications of US-China economic ties.
"Fifth-generation" fighters feature cutting-edge capabilities, including shapes, materials and propulsion systems designed to make them look as small as a swallow on enemy radar screens.
Ulman is China "issues manager" at the center that is the US military's prime intelligence producer on foreign air and space forces, weapons and systems. He said China's military was eyeing options for possible use of force against Taiwan, which Beijing deems a rogue province.