China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter May Well Be a Prototype for a Production Jet

China’s J-20 stealth fighter is still in the development phase, according to several Chinese officials.

Wow, tell us something we don’t know.

Ok; these officials did reveal that the jet is designed to “designed to protect the airspace over China,” according to the Global Times newspaper.  It cites several interviews with Zhu Heping, deputy president of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Air Force Command College and another official named Yin Zhou in revealing the fighter’s function:

Yin Zhou, a delegate to the CPPCC, told Xinhua that the stealth fighter jet could be used to secure China’s airspace in the event of a threat.

This sheds new light on the debate about the purpose of the plane. For months now, people have been wondering if the J-20 is an actual prototype for a new stealth fighter or if it’s simply a technology demonstrator. If it’s a prototype for a production jet, that means China is much closer to fielding a stealth fighter than if this is simply a one-off proof of concept. The Chinese officials’ answers, while vague, seem to say that the J-20 is a prototype.

Still, the officials could simply be speaking in abstract; saying the technologies developed in the J-20 will be key to ‘protecting’ China. We’ll see.

Good on Steve Trimble for spotting the article.

  • Michael

    Does anybody else think the J-20 just looks ugly?

    • tomatojuice

      I do argree, but at some certain angles it looks decently nice. That beast sure is HUGE. Still, I would like the F-23 though…

    • dirtylodown

      Where is Clint Eastwood, thats firefox for real?

    • Jacob

      Looks uglier than the Sukhoi T-50….but prettier than the X-32.

  • blight

    It has that elongated F-22 fuselage feel with delta canard wings. Strange, but not ugly.

  • Lance

    Still lame. China at least 5 years from fielding this new fighter. It looks like it lacks heavy pay load like the F-22 and lacks the avionics the F-22 has. Like most Chinese weapons its a knock off crap.

    • blight

      None of our new fighters is going to be known for their heavy payloads under stealth. That’s the whole point of internal weapons bays.

      More likely than not, the PLAAF sees a need to carry payloads as greater than any stealth capability that they could field at a rudimentary level. So if J-20 is even kind of stealthy, if it’s big enough to carry some sort of long range anti-ship weapon it’ll still be a serious threat.

    • @ohfuckinreally

      You were able to assess the plane’s avionics package just by looking at some faraway photos of it? You must be magic. When you consider that the F-22 is the most compact of the fifth gen fighters shown so far, why would you assume this plane has less payload when it is clearly larger?

    • altor

      “it lacks heavy pay load like the F-22 ”

      It is larger than F-22 so should be able to also carry a larger payload.

      • blight

        Larger would be internal volume, which could be split between weapons payload, fuel and engines, translating respectively into weapons, range/endurance and dash speed (but traded off against endurance). Engines is less likely, since larger engines would need more fuel, especially without supercruise. Wonder what kind of radar would fit in that nose cone…

  • apples

    gotta be a prototype, becuase as far as tech demonstrator/proof of concept, I don’t think many people are actually that impressed. long range strike and interceptor roles, but its air to air capabilities will be poor

  • Mike

    Whether it’s a technology demonstrator or proof of concept, the very fact that China does have a J-20 means more will possibly on the way in a few years; but the secrets to stealth is not based completely on what you can see as what you cannot see as China will quickly learn that having the general appearance of the F-22 Raptor will not mean your aircraft will be stealthy. And while China does not have the latest in radar and avionics, you know they can buy this technology from the Israelis who buy US technology and then reverse engineer everything before selling it to the rest of the world.

    • Joe Schmoe

      Sure…

      All of the Israeli technology is reverse engineered… Go crawl back into your hole.

      • blight

        I think Elbit is offended at that particular idea. There’s a few interesting bits on their aircraft that do not exist on American ones, presumably due to cost.

  • Tad

    I want to see it go up against the Russian stealth fighter - that might actually happen some day.

    • EJ257

      Like in The Bear and the Dragon? (minus the US involvement of course).

      • Hale

        More like the Dragon and the Tiger. India’s gonna get their version of the PAK-FA and China’s got the J-20. Russia has profited massively from China’s ravenous need for energy and metals. India and China on the other hand are often at odds with each other with issues like territorial disputes, relations with Sri Lanka, Burma, and especially Pakistan. as well as China’s growing navy.

        In the future, the most probable situation where you would find stealth fighters facing off against each other is in a conflict between India and China.

    • Praetorian

      I could be wrong, but I feel like the Russians PAK-FA will be a better aircraft. They are the masters of supermaneuverability aircraft and I think they have a better grasp making thier engines, then the Chinses do at coping them.

      The PAK-FA IMHO looks stealthier aerodynamically, just because of the J-20’s canards. And yes, I know that might not mean much, Ive heard arguments both ways. The real Question is who’s radar absorbing coating is better?

      I also think the Russians have better avionics, but im just speculating.

  • @E_L_P

    They will fail terribly. They are not building hundreds of under-tested and gold-plated mistake-jets in 9 (or more LRIPs) first. I feel sorry for them.

  • altor

    China will buid hundreds, not only 187, and they will also sell it worldwide. That’s the problem.

  • FtD

    If a Chinese factory can churn out a J20 per week, i’m sure the PLA will build 7 factories & produce one everyday! so in a year, it’ll double the F22 numbers & in 5 years, it’ll be 10X so it’s back to the numbers game…. the war on attrition.

    • Jay

      All indications are the J20 would be well suited to carrying anti-ship missiles against defended targets. The front aspect stealth and long internal weapons bay speak to this mission.

      They don’t need to build one plane a day, they just need enough planes and missiles to overwhelm the defenses of a carrier battle group. They could synchronize the aircraft with anti-ship ballistic missiles. How many targets can AEGIS track at once?

      If they start practicing J20 types against ships I would really worry.

  • Jacky Chan

    The jet looking is not important. The most important it has the stealth technology.

  • mike

    the Pak Fa would kill this aircraft and from the sides its not even that stealthy and has stolen alot of the Mig 1.42 project and the fuselage from the Su-47 the Pakfa is our greatest threat

  • hipp

    us as the most air port and/or air base in the world wolrd wid us as more then 700 bases and has i much greater ability to move forces not just in the US but any where their are needed.

  • Dantedelaghetto

    when this jet hits the skies then would’nt that mean that China is now able to match/exceed the dominence of the United States and Russia in the skies and may now be the dominant air power?