he Chengdu J-20, China's first fifth-generation stealth fighter, may be developed into the nation's first stealth bomber in the future, overseas Chinese outlet Duowei News reported on Aug. 14.
After the completion of the test flight of the sixth J-20 prototype known as 2015, it is expected to take a further two to three years for the fighter to enter service. It is the job of the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute to decide what kind of aircraft the J-20 should become in the future. Earlier predictions said the J-20 may be developed as a carrier-based stealth fighter, but Shenyang Aircraft Corporation's J-31 seems more suitable for that role.
The J-20 is likely to be designed in three variants. First, it may be a two-seat multirole fighter. Second, it could be fitted with the domestically built WS-15 engine to become the J-20A fighter. Finally, it could also become China's first stealth bomber due to its large size and capacity to carry a greater payload.
Other types of operations may also be carried out by the J-20, a number of military experts believe. It could be used to escort the PLA's strategic bombers or conduct electronic warfare. The J-20 even has the potential to fire anti-satellite missiles.