The US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is capable of combating China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, reports the website of China's nationalistic Global Times.
In a hypothetical aircraft carrier battle between China and the United States, the main fighter jets would include the United States' F-35C fifth-generation multirole fighter developed by Lockheed Martin and China's J-15 carrier-based jet developed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation.
The F-35 is equipped with extremely powerful offensive capabilities for both land and sea combat, with a weapons load of eight tonnes and the capacity to carry four AIM20C and AIM-9X mid-range and short-range air-to-air missiles.
In an attack on the Liaoning the F-35 could carry joint strike missiles developed in Norway, which have a range of 290 kilometers. The J-15, on the other hand, could carry two YJ8-3 anti-missiles with a range of only 180 km.
In terms of radar technology, the US has the clear upper hand with its AN/APG-81 AESA radar developed by Northrop Grumman, which has a thousand transceivers with the ability to simultaneously search for 23 moving targets, including 19 targets in just 2.4 seconds, after which it would turn to tracking mode.
Even against China's J-20, the stealth, twin-engine fifth-generation fighter aircraft prototype being developed by Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, the F-35 would still be the first to detect its opponent due to its superior radar.
Observers are asking whether the Japan Air Self-Defense Force will make modifications to its F-35A jets to use the domestically developed AAM-4 and AAM-5 medium-range active radar-guided air-to-air missiles or if they will use US missiles given the differences in dimensions.
The problem for Japan is the cost of the F-35A, which could mean fewer aircraft if the price continues to rise. The price of the F-35A was US$111.6 million back in 2010, while the F-35B cost US$109.4 million and the F-35C was priced at US$142.9 million; since then the average price of one F-35 has risen to as high as US$228 million, according to some sources.