China stealth fighter jet, J-20, based off downed U.S. F-117 Nighthawk technology: military official

NYDailyNews: The stealth fighter jet developed by China may have utilized technology from a downed United States plane, military officials in the Balkans claim.

Parts of a F-117 Nighthawk were allegedly bought from farmers who recovered pieces of the wreckage, according to Adm. Davor Domazet-Loso, Croatia’s military chief of staff during the Kosovo war. “We believe the Chinese used those materials to gain an insight into secret stealth technologies … and to reverse-engineer them,” he said, The Associated Press reports.

The Nighthawk was downed by a Serbian anti-aircraft missile during a bombing raid in March 1999. It was the first time one of the fighters had been hit, and the Pentagon blamed clever tactics and sheer luck. The pilot ejected and was rescued. A senior Serbian military official confirmed that pieces of the wreckage were removed by souvenir collectors, and that some ended up “in the hands of foreign military attaches.” Zoran Kusovac, a Rome-based military consultant, said the regime of the former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic routinely shared captured western equipment with its Chinese and Russian allies. “The destroyed F-117 topped that wish-list for both the Russians and Chinese,” he said.

Reports about a Chinese stealth fighter jet, dubbed the J-20, surfaced in recent weeks when photos of the aircraft were posted online. They were then featured in a China-based newspaper. The Communist country later confirmed the existence of the plane when a test flight coincided with a visit by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

China’s advancements in military technology have raised some eyebrows in Washington. “[China] clearly [has] potential to put some of our capabilities at risk,” Gates told reporters traveling with him to Asia. “We have to pay attention to them, we have to respond appropriately with our own programs.”