China has never released an official photograph of it but everyone already knew that the country was ready with J-20, a fifth generation fighter aircraft.
The question was when the fighter would officially become part of China’s growing military.
On May 31 the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) issued a statement slamming reports that the J-20 had appeared in training exercises.
However, the PLAAF said that the radar-evading fighter jet will be in active service “very soon”.
Developed by China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, the J-20 took first flight on January 11, 2011 while the then US Defense Secretary Robert Gates was on a visit to Beijing.
By November 2015 the eighth prototype of the J-20 had already been flown indicating the breakneck speed at which China was working on the fighter jet.
That rattled the United States, its allies and basically every country that has a dispute with China.
The United States has ceased production of its first fifth-generation fighter F-22 Raptor and is working on the second such fighter the F-35 Lightning II for the last 20 years.
Recently, pictures of J-20 were circulating in the Chinese media leading many to believe that the PLAAF had already inducted it into service. According to Reuters, PLAAF has called the reports “unreliable”.
“At present, the J-20 has yet to be equipped for air force service,” the air force said on its official microblog.
In December 2015, China’s state-owned Xinhua News Service had reported that the stealth fighter has entered production stage.
According to observers, the only struggle J-20 is facing is with the engines.
While the prototypes were reportedly powered by Russian-made AL-31 “Saturn” engines, China is working on its own engine for the combat-ready product – a WS15.
But experts have pointed out that the WS15 might not be the right fit and that China is not experienced enough for building such an engine on its own especially given the fact that WS15 is in the making for 20 years.
Recently a Pentagon report had created ripples across the world for it stated that China has increased its military presence along India’s border and the rest of the world too.
While China’s dispute with countries sharing a shoreline with the South China Sea has been the focal point of the world, Beijing uses traditional rival Japan’s own moves at ramping up its weapons production as a justification for its weapons development.
This post comparing Japan’s fifth-generation fighter aircraft X-2 with China’s J-20 was published by China’s People’s Daily – the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party.
According to GlobalSecurity.org, the J-20 is expected to have a top speed of Mach 2.5 and a combat range of around 2,000 kilometers.
Various military reports have suggested China’s galloping pace in military equipment making, including submarines, aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles.
In its 2015 report, the US Department of Defense had said that PLAAF is pursuing two separate stealth fighter programs – J-20 and J-31.