J20, Chinese Stealth Fighter
More photos available in Chinese language version page: J-20 Fighter
China’s new stealth fighter J20 looks like a bigger F-22. A government-run newspaper published photos of the J-20 along with a story in its Jan. 5 editions, lending credence to speculation by defense experts worldwide that China is making faster-than-expected progress on a rival to the Raptor.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has suggested a Chinese stealth fighter would not be a threat to the U.S. until 2020.
China's air force development made headlines earlier this year after news about the prototype J-20 stealth plane emerged. However, aircraft engine design and manufacture have been lagging behind, the newspaper said.
Air Force officials refused to comment on the J-20, although they weighed in a year ago when Russia’s stealth fighter, dubbed the T-50, made its maiden flight. Secretary Michael Donley and the commanders of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Pacific Air Forces — Gen. Roger Brady and Gen. Gary North, respectively —discussed the airplane at an Air Force Association conference.
China, the rival Asian superpower to India, has meanwhile been busy upgrading its military, developing the J-20 stealth fighter that reportedly will be equipped with the radar-evading capability of fifth-generation fighters such as the F-22 and F-35. China began testing the plane in January 2011. However, some analysts argue the threat posed by the J-20 is greatly exaggerated and that it incorporates obsolete technology.
As a guide, Richard Aboulafia, Vice President of Analysis at Teal Group, told Aerospace Technology that he gauges the capabilities of the modern, combat aircraft according to the following criteria:
• Access to off-board space, ground and air-based sensors, particularly a capable AEW/AWACS system with a well-trained crew and robust data links.
• Effective sensor fusion to allow the pilot to utilise this information, as well as data from onboard sensors.
• An integrated EW system.
• An AESA radar with a high level of reliability.
• High-quality theoretical and practical training to ensure effective use of resultant data and equipment.
• Pilot training to include plenty of flight hours.
• Powerful engines, ideally capable of supercruise, with a high mean time between overhaul and failures.
• An airframe with low-observable characteristics.
• A robust air-to-air refuelling capability encompassing equipment, readiness and training.
• Sophisticated and reliable, precision-guided weaponry.
• A robust hardware and software upgrade programme, to maintain the plane's effectiveness over the next five, 10 and 30 years.
• Maintenance procedures to keep the plane operating with a high, mission-capable rate.
• Equipment designed to facilitate maintenance and allow easy access to electronic diagnostic tools, and ideally a sophisticated health-usage monitoring system (HUMS).
According to Aboulafia, the J-20 incorporates just one item from this list (number seven). He is "not convinced that the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) features any other items from the list, although China seems to be making some progress in terms of item no 9".
It is reported 65th test flight of China's stealth fighter J-20 was completed January 2012.
The Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China looked at the Committee members, assembled in the August 1st Building, at the dawn of 6 December 2020.
Continue to next page: J20 stealth fighter Part 2