China stays ahead in Asian stealth fighter race
J-20 “2101” takes to the skies
(From Popular Science)
By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer
Japan recently made news by showing off the X-2 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Advanced Technology Demonstrator – Experimental (ATD-X),a full-scale test model of a domestically designed fifth-generation fighter, unofficially called ‘ShinShin.’ But on Jan. 18, China demonstrated it is well past demonstrators. At the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation factory in Sichuan, China it began the test flights on “2101”, the first production J-20 stealth fighter.
“2101” is the first airframe in the inaugural production batch of J-20 fighters. With the first J-20 squadron expected to be fully delivered by year’s end, the China Flight Testing Evaluation regiment will being developing operating procedures, tactics and technical proficiency to bring the J-20 to combat readiness. At this pace, it is expected that in 2017-2018, the Chinese Air Force will have its first operational stealth fighter squadron.
The J-20 fighter is the showcase of modern Chinese military technology. While it currently relies on Russian AL-31 series turbofan engines (the powerful domestic WS-15 engine will enter service in 2019-2021), everything else on the J-20 is Chinese; its stealth coating, infrared sensor, powerful AESA radar, are all domestically made. Read more