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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Threat Analysis of Foreign Stealth Fighters III: Emerging Threats (announcement)

Due to the popularity of the Threat Analysis of Foreign Stealth Fighters series and by viewer request, I am now working on Threat Analysis of Foreign Stealth Fighters III: Emerging Threats. The focus will be on upcoming foreign stealth fighter designs that have yet to be built but are underdevelopment. I plan to post the article sometime next week if things work out.

A few points must be made however regarding the topic before I post the actual article. One, the number of speculative and plain false stealth fighters (especially of Chinese origin) is staggering. Manipulated images posted often on web forums account for many of the rumored stealth aircraft. For example, the second image claims to depict a low observable variant of the JF-17 Thunder. I will only assess stealth aircraft that likely to exist or are well known and are likely fake. The usual sources I use have little information on the upcoming jets. New sources found with preliminary research are in the language of the native country of the rumored stealth jet. I can read a tiny bit of Chinese but highly technical concepts are way beyond my abilities. I do not know Russian at all nor do I know Japanese etc. (I do know a bit of German though :D ) If the source seems legitimate I might opt to use a translated copy of the source but I'm always wary of this method as I am unable to verify the authenticity of the translation. I'll mark translated sources in the reference section incase anyone wants to provide a better insight or notify me of any issues. So bear with me.

The rest of the post is just about the fake JF-17 and a little about faked/manipulated aircraft images in general.

Image 1: Real JF-17 Thunder. This is likely the original image unmanipulated image.

Image 2: Manipulated image depicting fake low observable JF-17. Do not let the changed air intakes, candid tails, and different placement of personnel fool you, this is indeed a fake. Also note the same ID number used for both aircraft, 116. An acquaintance of mine can manipulate images in a similar manner given the right software and enough time.

Faked images such as the one above range in quality from poor to nearly undetectable to the untrained eye. Google was able to pair the unaltered original image with the manipulated image merely by searching for similar images. This is done by dragging your mouse over the over the manipulated image (in search image selection) and look for the search for similar option near the more sizes.

This is not a foolproof technique but its fairly quick and easy to do and is worthwhile if you suspect the image is a fake. Occasionally you will get lucky. This method does not work for computer generated models of fake aircraft, drawings, etc as there is no original unaltered image in those types of fabrications.

A trademark sign of a faked aircraft is the design is not wholly consistent across many images as different digital artists created the images with their own unique renditions and design features. Many times the individuals manipulating the images are not familiar with basic aircraft design techniques let alone know how low observable features work. The image below is clearly a fake and incorporates many design differences from the rendition of the low observable JF-17 shown above. This image is essentially a F-35 with a the Pakistani flag taped on the tail.

If all else fails, use common sense and or your knowledge of aircraft. One cannot simply make a "stealth variant" of a standard fighter design. The only legitimate case of a stealth variant of a conventional fighter aircraft is the F-15SE which is still underdevelopment. Even the F-15SE is not a true stealth aircraft and only maintains a low frontal rcs. Stealth generally has to be built into the design from its conception, it can't be added in latter due to the extremely unforgiving nature of radar e.g. planform alignment oriented flight surfaces, room for internal weapon bays, etc. Another problem with a hypothetical stealth JF-17 is China would not share a stealth aircraft with Pakistan, at least not in the immediate future. I am not an expert on the inner workings of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan. From what I do know, Pakistan largely wants go increase ties rapidly but China is more reserved in the pace in which it seeks to improve relations. Furthermore, if China were to sell/co-develop a stealth aircraft for or with Pakistan, India would immediately denounce China.

In summary, unless the aircraft in question is validated by reliable sources, don't take some guy's word for it on a forum or trust that the picture is real. Especially if the jet is supposed to be from/related to China.


  1. And if you take a closer look at the last picture, it does look like the tail and landing gear have been Photoshopped on...

    1. Its clearly a manipulated image and a poor quality one at that. Furthermore, it has a multitude of different features than the supposed JF-17 stealth variant shown above. It was a real aircraft, it would have uniform features throughout different pictures.

  2. Idiot, it a fan boy stunt. Nothing was to be taken so seriously. I m astonished you wrote damn full article.