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China's Murky History With U.S. Stealth Technology

If the Chinese are allowed to see the wreckage, it may not be the first time the Chinese military was given an opportunity to benefit technologically from America's misfortune. In 1999 an American stealth F-117 Nighthawk bomber was shot down in Serbia, the wreckage of which was reportedly passed along to the Chinese.

More than a decade later, in January of this year, China's first stealth fighter, the J-20, took a test flight that caught international attention and sparked a debate over whether China had developed the stealth-capabilities based on what they learned from the downed Nighthawk. Balkan military officials told The Associated Press the Chinese likely based their designs on the American plane, but Chinese officials denied the allegation in their state-run newspaper, The Global Times.

Regardless of its origins, the J-20 could serve as the first major challenge to American air superiority in decades. In an analysis published last week, the conservative think tank The Jamestown Foundation concluded the J-20 was capable of rivaling America's best air-to-air fighter, the F-22, in everything from speed to stealth and lethality.

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READ: Chinese Stealth Fighter Could Rival U.S.'s Best: Report

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

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