January 11, 2011, Defense secretary Robert Gates met Hu Jintao in Beijing for talks on increased transparency about China’s military modernization drive. Earlier that same day China’s new fifth generation stealth fighter plane the J-20 took it’s first test flight. This was apparently unbeknownst to China’s civilian leaders who appeared genuinely surprised when Gates asked them about it.
The US was aware that China was secretly developing a new fighter but thought it was a decade away until photos of it doing high speed taxi texts surfaced in mid December. The usual skeptics claimed it was just a mock up and couldn’t fly or at best a flight test (based on US standards) was still two years away, reality proved different.
The J-20 is similar to the US F-22 in its stealth characteristics but is much bigger, doubtless faster and with much more range and payload capacity. Now the skeptics are saying the Chinese won’t have suitable engines for many years. That’s probably not a good bet, especially considering that the Russians have engines that would work and could use some part of China’s mountain of money.
Flash forward to the not to distant future… After China moved to seize the “rebel province” of Taiwan and they chose to resist, the right wing President of the US sent in the fleet despite the resignation of the Navy Admiral on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The President believes the godless Commie Chinese will back down with a show of force.
The USS Gerald Ford, the first of a new generation of aircraft carriers lies off the Taiwan Straight burning out of control and near sinking. The death toll is unknown but could run over 4000 including lost escort ships. Shore launched Dong Feng 21D ballistic missiles destroyed the task force in a matter of seconds unopposed. Two hundred miles away the USS Ronald Reagan turned to run but took a direct hit to the aft bomb locker and disappeared in a flash of light.
At the same time the Air Force Major in the lead tanker of a group is about to rendezvous with a task force of one hundred planes headed toward Taiwan. He monitors a transmission coming from the AWACS plane supervising the area but it goes dead suddenly. He reflexively glances over at his fighter escorts just in time to see the closest one explode and fall away. Just then there is a violent lurch as Major’s port engine explodes taking much of that wing off the tanker but he isn’t aware of it as chunks of wing have cut through the cockpit.
The lead fighters of the task force jettison their bombs and go to full throttle in attempt to run down the long range Chinese fighters speeding away. The US planes will run out of fuel in two minutes at that setting but it doesn’t matter. They don’t have enough range to reach land and the tankers are gone.
The remaining pilots have no choice but to eject when the fuel runs out and hope for pickup but their satellite uplinks have gone dead and even the GPS has failed. It’s the GPS satellites that relay distress beacons as well as provide guidance for the advanced US weapons systems but they orbit at low altitude and China has taken them out.
Back in the US the President is hopping mad, the lights have gone out and his interview for Fox News is delayed. But the lights have gone out everywhere, the Red Phone rings, an aid picks it up and the line goes dead. The call was to tell the President that the world has changed.