China's state media is refuting reports that technology used in the country's new stealth aircraft may be based on parts from a U.S. fighter shot down over Serbia, quoting officials who reject the idea as a "smear" by foreign media.
The official Global Times newspaper also quotes a test pilot saying China's new J-20 fighter is technologically far more advanced that the American F-117 Nighthawk that was shot down in 1999.
Media reports this week quoted the former chief of Croatia's military as saying Chinese agents fanned out to purchase parts of the destroyed Nighthawk from local farmers after it was shot down during a bombing raid in the Kosovo War.
The Croatian admiral said he believed Chinese engineers studied the parts to develop the stealth technologies that enable aircraft to avoid detection by radar and other systems.
But a defense ministry official quoted by Global Times said this "is not the first time foreign media has smeared newly unveiled Chinese military technologies." He said, "It is meaningless to respond to such speculations."
Xu Yongli, identified by Global Times as one of China's top test pilots, told the newspaper the J-20 is a "masterpiece of China's technological innovation."
He said the plane, which staged its first test flight this month, possesses an advanced supersonic cruise ability and powerful air mobility. He compared it to the world's most advanced stealth aircraft, including the U.S. F-22 Raptor and Russia's first stealth fighter, the Sukhoi T-50.
Xu said the F-117 technology was already outdated when the American plane was shot down. He added that it would have been very difficult for Chinese engineers to learn much from the plane's radiation-absorbent coating because of the complicated production process.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.