Home » News » Around the Globe » Video: J-20 Weapons Bays in Action

Video: J-20 Weapons Bays in Action

by John Reed on August 31, 2011

Here’s best video I’ve seen of China’s J-20 stealth jet up close on the ground. Watch as the bird taxis to a halt and then as the F-22-like canopy opens followed by the plane’s weapons bay doors. Watch how small the ground personnel are compared to the fighter.

Click through the jump for the video.

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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

B RAD August 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I'd make it bigger…


asdqwe September 1, 2011 at 5:57 am

why? it can probably already carry enough weapon to sink a carrier.
unless you want to sink the whole fleet.


Brian Black September 1, 2011 at 11:09 am

"Watch how small the ground personnel are compared to the fighter"

The ground personnel are Chinese, this thing ain't so big.


Riceball September 1, 2011 at 11:41 am

While the average Chinese might be shorter than the average American the difference isn't that big anymore, Yao Ming ring any bells? Besides, a difference of even a few inches isn't all that much in terms of scale, it's not like the're Oompaloompahs or Hobbit small compared to an American or European.


M.A. Harris August 31, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I'm now more convinced that a re-make of Firefox should be filmed… Clint might stick out in China though.


Tad August 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm

What does something that big carry?


Jason August 31, 2011 at 6:56 pm

your mom


Tad August 31, 2011 at 7:25 pm

My question referred to the article's emphasis on the large size of this fighter aircraft and I was wondering what is the purpose of the size. I note from later posts that the same thing has crossed others' minds.


joe September 1, 2011 at 3:24 am

Presumably anti-ship missiles. A stealthy bomb truck is a lot easier to build (and given the whole carrier-anti-access idea, just as useful) as a stealthy superiority fighter. Sarcasm aside, you don't give the USAF or USN aviation a fair fight and expect to live, and the PLA are not stupid.

The latest chinese SSM is the Yingji ("Eagle Strike") which is supposed to be genuinely good, even by NATO standards,*but* is something like half again the size of a contemporary Harpoon.

Remember that a lot of Chinese designs are evolutions of Cold War soviet stuff with modern(ish) electronic gubbinz that are now available on the open-market (i.e. Made In China). Soviet rockets and missiles always tended to be 'effective, heavy-duty but big' compared to NATO ones - same as the space programme rockets.


Guest A September 1, 2011 at 9:24 am



AmicusCuriae September 1, 2011 at 11:33 am

The esteemed Dr. Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute says it is the same size as the F-22. This must be a fish story.


Praetorian September 1, 2011 at 10:10 pm

A large size aircraft also would be able to carry more fuel, range along with payload might have been thier intended goal.


Chimp September 5, 2011 at 5:21 am

It's not *that* big. 20.6 metres LOA makes it about 3 feet longer than an F-15, and about 6 feet *shorter* than an F-111.
It's about 5 feet longer than an F-22.


Lance August 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Weapons bays look small and cramped to a F-22 so it carries less weapons than a Raptor. More proof its an inferior fighter compared to US and Russian designs.


Letsallbefriends August 31, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Or maybe more room for fuel. Or an oxygen system that works.


Zebungua August 31, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Is it just me or Lance gets a lot of thumb down for calling this plane inferior? Seems like a lot of you-know-who are watching this site.


Youknowwho September 1, 2011 at 2:27 am

Damn, you blew our cover. Now we have to kill you too.

Mostly we give Lance big thumbs down because we think 12 year olds should be doing homework instead of wasting time talking about things he clearly knows very little about.


Thomas L. Nielsen September 1, 2011 at 2:28 am

I don't think it's just you and Lance.

But both here and on other discussion boards it seems to me that a lot of people are deciding that the J-20 is "inferior" (in what respect?) to the F-22, the F-35, the Su-35, the Hughes Spuce Goose or whatever, simply because it's Chinese, so it HAS to be, right?

I am by no means claiming that the J-20 is NOT inferior to the F-22 etc., I'm just saying that, until I see some actual performance data on the actual production aircraft, I'll reserve judgement.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


AmicusCuriae September 1, 2011 at 11:35 am



Lance September 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I see some of you are Chi com lovers and hope this crappy plane will bring new defense dollars to the pentagon its not going to happen get lost China lovers.


blight September 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

By applying the same fanciful leaps of logic you use to jump to your conclusions about J-20, we could suggest you are a Chinese agent hell-bent on inducing complacency before WW3.


Youknowyouknowwho September 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm

The only way the Pentagon is going to get more dollars is if we decide to lend you some, but now your credit rating isn't so good, so maybe not.


jhm September 1, 2011 at 9:13 pm

? most of the US debt is based from the domestic private sector. isnt china only out 5% of it?

CSZ August 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm

The F-35 has larger weapons bay than a Raptor and can carry more weapon. Is it a superior fighter than the F-22?

The T-50 has only one weapon bay between its two engines, and the J-20 has three. From this angle it is also hard to measure the size and depth of the J-20 bay, but given its overall size and a flat belly, its main weapon bay should be deeper than that of the T-50's.


blight August 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm

From eyeballing, it looks perhaps twice the length of the height of the ground crew. So 10-12 feet long? Says nothing about depth and internal volume though.

Imagine our surprise when J-20 turns out to be a EW bird instead of a missile truck…


TLAM Strike September 1, 2011 at 12:25 am

Even Ivan wouldn't be crazy enough to make a stealth EW bird.


blight September 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Aren't we going that way with NGJ?


CSZ August 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm

An SD-10/PL-12 MRAAM is about 12.89ft long (wikipedia data), so you are in the right ball park.


Stratege September 1, 2011 at 3:06 am

"The T-50 has only one weapon bay between its two engines"

Wrong. The T-50 has two weapon bays between its engines. Also it has two small bays for short range AAMs.
T-50's two main bays are longer than compartments of J-20, F-22 and F-35. PAK-FA would be able to carry big ultra-long range missiles (R-37's successor) in its internal weapons bays.


Jay September 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Raptor has twice the internal capacity of the F-35. If you start hanging munitions from the wings it's closer, but Raptor still carries more load.

agreed the bays on the J-20 look deep, but it's hard to say how big from this angle. I'm sure we have people working on it. If J-20 has space for a few serious ASCM, we will probably find out when Navy expands the number of interceptors in our CVBGs or gets serious about laser defenses.


Steven R. August 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm

thats a big target for radar…


asdqwe September 1, 2011 at 3:19 am

that carries lots of missiles to destroy radars…


jhm September 1, 2011 at 9:14 pm

so do f22 intercepters :)


Hale September 2, 2011 at 5:02 pm

If only they weren't grounded.


Tim August 31, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Probably as useless as Firefox. More chinese junk .


Letsallbefriends August 31, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Maybe, but as long as America keeps buying their other junk (some of which apparently the American defence industry bought and put in it’s own gear), China will have the money to eventually develop something really good.


USAF August 31, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Ha fighter I say bomber it’s to big to out do the f35 of f22


SAM August 31, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Fighter-bomber. It's main target is to take out aircraft-carriers and other surface ships.


A. Nonymous August 31, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Anyone ever stand next to an F-15? They are surprising large aircraft when you're up close to them. The J-20 looks a bit bigger, but not enormously so.


DAngel September 1, 2011 at 11:40 am

Yes about 63 feet long for the F15, and based off of the SUV driving in front of it and it's length i'd estimate this aircraft at about 70-75 feet long. Likely has a wider wingspan as well…and it looks like it's fairly heavy considering the look of the main landing gear. This is based off of the SUV being roughly 15 feet long as it appears to be similar in size to an Explorer. It's certainly a big bird for a fighter.


Chimp September 5, 2011 at 5:22 am

20.6 metres LOA for the J-20. Around 3 feet longer than an F-15


Roy Smith August 31, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I read somewhere(was it here?) that J-20 was based on the Former MiG stealth prototype(the current Russian stealth prototype is Sukhoi). I also don't think we should believe everything we read & hear about Russian-Chinese technical disputes. I'm sure the Russians are helping the Chinese big time to both develop & build this fighter. I also read that the Russians have a different concept of stealth technology("Active Stealth Technology" aka "Plasma Stealth Technology") that sounds like science fiction out of Star Trek(a "non-invisible" cloaking device) that they are trying to develop & could conceivably(if I am not over simplifying it) make ANY aircraft a "stealth fighter/bomber).


Enrico August 31, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Relations between Russia and China are really a mystery at times. Russia wasn't exactly happy for the unlicensed production of modified Su-27, the so called J-11B; also China is trying to become independent from Russia, they're trying to develop their own engines and apparently J11B (and other fighters) are equipped with indigenous engines rather than Russian ones. Overall it looks like Chinese are fully aware that Russia is trying to get a lot of money from them (just like in the case of India and in minor scale other countries), and it looks like they feel confident enough to "refuse" their help. It should be noted that India can offer something (composite materials and software development) to Russia so their relations probably offer benefits to both sides. I'm not sure that the same could be said in the case of Russia/China relations.
TL;DR: I'm not excluding that you can be correct but imo if their military relations are warm enough, China would have cooperated on the PAK-FA, like probably Russia offered them to do, rather than re-starting work on MiG 1.44 or anyway using Russian assistance to build a completely different design.


Stratege September 1, 2011 at 3:09 am

Composite materials and electronics on the PAK-FA are all Russian made, not Indian.
China is not interested in PAK-FA.


slick willie August 31, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I question if its real. why is the lettering on the aircraft in english?


TLAM Strike September 1, 2011 at 12:37 am

You mean the numbers? "Arabic" numerals (really they Hindu but that's another discussion), are mostly universal. The Chinese Navy uses them for hull numbers.

Just about the only countries I've seen NOT use Arabic numerals on their ships is North Korea's border guards (they used a mix of both for some reason…) and Burma.


Alton August 31, 2011 at 8:45 pm

There is a reason for it's size. It is so big that when it is on the radar, it will overwhelm it and if the decide to drop decoys or fly three or more together, all we'll see is a big Pizza pan, then we wake up Cholly, cause he ain't never seen nothin like this. Oui! Ah ain't never seen nothing like this since someone decided to stretch the B-52 and put three sets of wings and bomb bays on it!


sam March 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Size has little to do with radar signature. In fact, vietnam style army jeeps appear over 20 times larger than that of a boeing 747 on radar.


Cardoso August 31, 2011 at 9:13 pm

You're gonna need a bigger missile.


John B August 31, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Being able to manufacture such complex shaped aircraft that flies is no smal task. Strange thing that the serial number is printed in Latin numerics rather than chinese characters.


Chimp September 1, 2011 at 10:24 am

As someone else pointed out, they are Arabic numerals. Pretty common for PLA (PLAF, PLAN) vehicles to display Arabic numerals. To be honest, I don't recall seeing any that displayed Chinese numbers.


mik August 31, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Its like the old F-111 bomber


NORGCO September 1, 2011 at 12:25 am

"An F-111 sized aircraft for the F-111's original missions" is how one site described it. The size should allow it to reach Guam and return with one refueling, which means it can finish off any US base in the far east after the Chinese short and intermediate ranged ballistic missile force - which is HUGE- has hammered them.

Add taking out the ISR and tanker aircraft and the USAF would lose a lot of its capabilities without the J-20 needing to be able to defeat the F-22 one on one. The small force of F-22's would be tied up trying to defend all those customised and hard to replace airliners. A few near misses would be enough to cause a re-think of deployment of such easy targets, and the USAF can't opperate effectively without them.

Add a few runs at the aircraft carriers, or just providing real time information for those ballistic anti-shipping missiles and this becomes a perfectly reasonable design. Actually fighting whatever planes the US could still get over the South China Sea etc would be handled by other aircraft.


Chimp September 1, 2011 at 10:25 am

I just wish the CIA would pay the guy for a tripod. Some image stabilization would be nice, too.


Sanem September 1, 2011 at 11:00 am

speed, range, electronics and guns are what air combat is all about now, manouverability has become a tertiary concern; a clear example is the F-35, compared to the F-22 and 4th gen jets

the J-20 doesn't have to be better than the US or Russian fighters btw, it just needs enough ability to cover the Chinese Sea's in big enough numbers to track and engage targets succesfully. in such a large area, it'll certainly have an edge over tanker-dependant Western fighters

which is why we need UCAVs btw, manned jets are quickly becoming obsolete


Tyler September 1, 2011 at 11:04 am

China uses regular Latin numbers rather than Chinese character numbers in most situations where more than one number is listed. So its not really unusual that the lettering is 2001 instead of the Chinese characters.


Norseman4 September 2, 2011 at 7:16 am

(Hindu-)Arabic, not Latin. Latin (aka Roman) would be MMI


Stormcharger September 1, 2011 at 11:51 am

Ever try to keep more than a Billion People in the dark? We can't do it with only a few hundred reporters…


Tony C September 1, 2011 at 12:12 pm

This is a BIG jet, maybe it won't be as stealthy as it looks? The issue for the
US planners is how to deal with large numbers of them. The Chinese
will undoubtably want to use overwheming numbers to offset any qualitative
disadvantages they may perceive. All this build-up to take over Taiwan.


doubleA September 1, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Exactly. A couple hundred of those over Taiwan and we won't take any military action.


jhm September 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm

it will take some time. even with their j11 anj10 air fleets only numbering in the hundreds so far. A little small for such a long period of time. Unless China forsakes development and further procurement of these craft, adn throw it all behind the j20, its gonna take some time. but who knows?


Infidel4LIFE September 1, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Thats right, its the size of an F-111. Its not built to dogfight i imagine, this is a long range carrier killer. This plane is huge. The Raptor is alot smaller, this plane is big. And, we are financing our own demise..


Infidel4LIFE September 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Anti-ship cruise missles and PGM's.


BpSitRep September 1, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Hmmm. For all the 'secrecy' that China put behind that thing, then allow it to be 'filmed' in the open, and have cadets or whatevers show up and look at it. All I"ve seen are stills and this film of that J20, taxing around. Looks more like a big movie prototype than an actual combat aircraft. Why would the ChiComs allows the West to see it so easily? They have something else cooking somewhere.


dauntless September 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm

At least Iran is open about their vehicles. China tries to make 'em look 'secret'.

I'm still unsure if I should be surprised of the size. If they have 20th century syndrome then 'bigger is better'. But I guess this is more anti-sea vessel than full-on fighter.


aero September 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm

It's not always about physical size when it comes to radar. Look at the B-2 the aircraft itself is massive yet it's radar cross section is probably orders of magnitude smaller than an F-15. This is one case where size doesn't necessarily matter it's more about shaping and materials used. Don't forget that there are also IRST systems that can detect aircraft a raptor in supercruise is gonna get awfully hot. I think this will be stealth's Achilles heel.


anme9304 September 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Maybe it doesn't have to be as stealthy or maneuverable as the F-22. What if it's used as a strike aircraft? Which would probably explain the large size of the J-20. It would provide the aircraft with more fuel and ordnance. Given the distances China would face with any future adversary. Here's my scenario: A few squadron's of J-20's could take off from the Chinese coast and fly below the radar, launch several dozen cruise missiles at key targets at Taiwan. This would be followed by ballistic missiles fired from the mainland at military bases, Communication stations, shipyards, fuel depots, and airfields. This would disable Taiwan's ability to defend herself in those first crucial moments, before the massive invasion begins. How fast could we respond to something like this before Taiwan is taken over? I know I went a little off topic, but it's something to consider.


Lance September 2, 2011 at 1:08 am

Yes part of the reason we will not goto war with them going to war would wreak both our nation economically for decades.


Hale September 2, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I believe it's about 11% now.

People always say that 'oh, China could just suddenly dump all our debt.' but that's just BS. That would destroy their investments. Plus they depend on the US for all the exports.

We will likely never go to war, the economics of it all would be just disastrous.


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