Ten years after J-20's maiden flight: expect the next X-20

China Military Online
Wang Xinjuan
2021-01-12 17:52:20
Photo by Yue Shuhua

By Li Qiang and Liu Yang

The day January 11, 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of China's J-20 stealth fighter's maiden flight. Ten years after the maiden flight, the development direction of the Chinese fighter jets led by the J-20 becomes a hot topic of widespread concern from the outside world. In particular, the images of a video released by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), which revealed the engine change of the J-20, have attracted wide attention.

The new changes of the J-20 were unveiled for the first time in the PLAAF's recent recruitment video and a promotional video of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), a Chinese military expert said in an interview.

The expert believes that the engine for China's J-20 has undergone relatively large changes in details in recent ten years, indicating that the power problem restricting the development of the fighter has been resolved. For the future high-end aviation weapons, a powerful engine will become an important benchmark. Combined with the development of its network technology, material technology, and other essential technologies, China will have the comprehensive high-end manufacturing capability of J-20. In the future, the J-20 will assume a more important role in the development of China's strategic air force.

The expert also mentioned that, internationally, two-seat fighter jets could perform a variety of combat missions. In the future, if a twin-seat variation of J-20 comes into exist, it will be able to perform multi-purpose combat missions, with integrate elements from various warplane types including fighters and bombers.

Li Gang, the test pilot of the J-20's maiden flight, believes that the J-20 is a fourth-generation fighter jet, one that can compete with foreign counterparts in the true sense of the word. Before the J-20, the overall equipment and combat capabilities of the PLAAF was still behind some advanced countries. Since the J-20 was commissioned, this gap was basically gone or became quite narrow. Li hopes that the developers can continue their efforts to develop a better aircraft than the J-20.

The west continues to pay attention to the progress of China's aviation industry and the development of aviation equipment. Not long ago, a British think tank issued a report saying that China's aviation industry has surpassed Russia in many areas. Countries all over the world are accelerating the development of new generation fighter jets. The next generation of fighter jets, unmanned wing planes, and AI air combat systems are gradually moving from vision to reality. It also means that the development of China's new fighter jets cannot and will not stop. With the successful development and deployment of the J-20, the Chinese fighter jets, who were once lagged behind and now are competing on the same stage with foreign counterparts, will continue to make progress in the future.

When the J-20 made its maiden flight, the then US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was visiting China. Gates, who was quite impressed with the maiden flight, later confessed that the US intelligence agencies underestimated China's capability to develop a new generation of fighter jets.

The J-20 led China's military aircraft into the 20th era. Aviation equipment numbered 20, such as Y-20 and Z-20, are the latest and most advanced models of similar aviation equipment in China. In fact, there are still many gaps need to be filled in the combat equipment sequence of the PLA, and more “20s” are needed. Among world-class strategic bombers, large tankers, stealth carrier-based fighter jets, carrier-based fixed-wing early warning aircraft, etc., who will be luckily the next “20”? Let us just wait and see.

(This article is originally published on huanqiu.com, is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.)


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