Reviews and analysis of China J20 stealth fighter

Andreas Rupprecht, author of the authoritative Modern Chinese Warplanes, told Foreign Policy that satellite photography reveals the J-20 is not as large as originally thought, suggesting it has less internal volume to carry large air-to-ground munitions. He also pointed to the writings of influential Chinese aircraft designers that stressed “supercruise, high maneuverability, [and] unconventional maneuvers” as requirements for the plane that would eventually become the J-20 — all attributes of fighters and not attack jets

Yin Zhuo, a Chinese military academic, concurs, stating in the Paper, “The stealth fighter is bound to be China’s major fighter airplane in future, as well as the principal fighter through which China will gain air supremacy.”

It has already gained China some international respect. The rapid development of the J-20 — from mock-up to low-rate production in less than a decade — has stunned aviation enthusiasts

The J20 has radar-absorbent paint, a redesigned canopy, redesigned external features such as air intakes and wheel doors, and — most importantly — a new nose to accommodate an active electronically scanned radar (AESA). A gold standard among modern fighters, AESA radars create discrete “beams” of radio waves that allow detection without revealing the aircraft carrying it—a key requirement for stealth aircraft.

The fighter jet’s engines has proven a problem for China. The J-20 needs two powerful, high-performance engines to “supercruise” — aviation jargon for cruising above the speed of sound with a full load of weapons and fuel. China’s aviation industry has lagged far behind those of the West and Russia in the development of high-performance jet engines. Early J-20 models are flying with imported Russian AL-31FN engines, as its predecessor plane, the J-10, did, but production aircraft are expected to fly with domestically built Xian WS-15 engines offering 50 percent more thrust.

But what exactly is this plane for? A twin-engine aircraft with three internal weapons bays is capable of a range of missions. One potential use for the J-20 is as a long-range strike aircraft, capable of penetrating enemy air defense networks to launch missiles against high-value ground targets such as airfields, command and control bases, and other military installations.

Aviation analysts Mike Yeo and Chris Pocock believe that based on the emphasis on frontal-aspect low visibility the J-20 is meant to be a long-range interceptor. In that case, the J-20 would detect and shoot at enemy planes head-on from beyond visual range. Such a role would make the J-20’s less-effective stealth from the sides and rear less of an issue than if it was intended to be a penetrating strike jet that would travel deep into enemy territory and need to be stealthy from all angles.

The J20 is less stealthy and has inferior engines compared to the US F22 and F35.

SOURCES- Foreign Policy, Modern Chinese Warplane, Wikipedia