First disclosed by US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) in 1997 as XXJ, J-20 is the 5th generation multi-role fighter to enter the service between 2015 and 2018. Chinese aviation fans says they have been taking photographs of the jet during recent high speed taxi tests from outside a fence at the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institutes’s airfield in south western China.
The Chinese have been busy working their own designs for a twin-engine multi-role heavy fighter with stealth capability and manoeuvrability comparable to the American F-22. It took 15 years for the US military to develop the F-22, which costs around $150 million per unit, its production was terminated after President Barack Obama signed the country’s 2010 defence bill that included huge spending cuts.
China’s aviation industry has made rapid progress in recent years but still relies heavily on imported technology, Russian engines are still used on China’s homemade J-10 fighter jets and the J-11, a copy of Russia’s Sukoi-27 fighter jet. The prototype features a pair of all-moving tailfins and Russian 1.44 style ventral stabilizing fins, which shield the engine nozzles.
Stealth technology is difficult to master because it relies on systems to hide the presence of the plane while equipping the pilot with enough information to attack an enemy. Emissions must be hidden and the plane’s fuselage sculpted to avoid detection by radar and infrared sensors.