I actually missed this news last November, 2 months ago (http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2015/11/chinese-scientists-unveil-new-stealth-material-breakthrough/123640/?oref=d-dontmiss), which seemed to have sparked much reflection about US military directions for the reporter at Defense One. I googled “AFSS layer” and found out that the news also had caught the attention of the congressman J. Randy Forbes (http://forbes.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398731). Why publish it? Just to show off? There’s a thing about stealth technology, that is, the limited electromagnetic spectrum available to radar technology and the irreversibility of stealth. Once all frequencies are absorbable, active radars will become completely useless, irreversibly. US is moving on to pursue passive radars, but even then all communications can be done with beamed EM waves without broadcasting, since the locations of satellites and other receivers are known to insiders. Black body radiation will be the only remaining source to reveal an enemy’s airframe’s location in the sky, which is far too weak for the sensitivity of today’s antennas. Worse, even black body radiation can be reduced with surface cooling and liquid nitrogen around engine flames. There’s literally nothing to be seen. All air defense shields will break down. Missiles will penetrate every defense zone.
It is probably too early to panic, because HF with a wavelength range between 10 m and 100 m will always be very difficult to absorb (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar). With very high-speed interceptors ready to take off within seconds, it will not be very difficult to get close enough to targets to verify and destroy them. It simply means that future air defense shields will need to provide the capability to confirm targets with drones, just to avoid human intervention in the process. Response time matters. Humans are simply too slow to respond to incoming high-speed objects. Again, why publish it? Why not surprise your enemy with stealth technology? All you have to do is to fly close to an aircraft carrier while nothing shows up on their radar, all without telling the technical know-how.
Negotiation power? Not so much so, because even back in the 80’s Deng was able to say no to the West without strong military backing anyway. If the West shows the same attitude today, what can China do, not to mention the lack of a corresponding military high ground?
It is a show-off, just to tell US that they could afford to share this type of knowledge in academia. They probably have something better in house. As to what it is, no one knows.
At the end of the day, the more interesting question to ask is, why is it so much easier for China to steal US technologies and not vice versa? Given that China had to buy Su-30 to steal its technologies, China could not even steal technologies from its best friend. Why can they steal F-35 that easily from US? That’s probably more alarming than the publication of the AFSS absorber.
It’s strange. I don’t see China’s point, either. They have nothing to gain with this publication.