The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force J-20 stealth fighter aircraft has entered combat service, the country’s armed forces confirmed on Friday.
The J-20 has been armed by the combat troops of the PLA Air Force, said a statement released on the official Weibo account of the PLA Air Force.
The fighter jet officially entered military service in September, and was put through its combat paces over nine days of drills with less-advanced J-16 and J-10C fighters last month, the air force said.
The J-20 is China’s fifth-generation medium and long-range fighter jet. It made its maiden flight in 2011 and was first shown to the public at the 11th Airshow China in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, in November 2016. It was delivered to the PLA Air Force in March 2017, it joined the military parade at the Zhurihe military training base in July 2017.
The J-20 is one of the two fifth-generation jet fighters being developed by China with the other being Shenyang J-31.
Chengdu J-20 (simplified Chinese: 歼-20; traditional Chinese: 殲-20) is a stealth, twinjet, long-range, fifth-generation fighter aircraft developed by China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
The aircraft’s glass cockpit features two main large color liquid crystal displays (LCD) situated side-by-side, three smaller auxiliary displays, and a wide-angle holographic head-up display (HUD).
The fighter is equipped with EOTS-86 electro-optical targeting system and Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System developed by Chinese company A-Star Science and Technology.
The main weapon bay is capable of housing both short and long-range air-to-air missiles (AAM) (PL-9, PL-12C/D &PL15 – PL-21). Two smaller lateral weapon bays behind the air inlets are intended for short-range AAMs (PL-10). These bays allow closure of the bay doors prior to firing the missile, thus enhancing stealth.
The prototype aircraft is believed to be initially powered by WS-10 and/or the AL-31F engines. China is currently working on an advanced domestic turbofan engine similar in performance to the Pratt & Whitney F119 codenamed WS-15, but there are also speculations that Saturn AL-31-117S engine may be used for the initial batch of the J-20.
In March 2017, Chinese media claimed that the aircraft has entered initial operational capability (IOC) phase with limited service within Air Force. The J-20 made its maiden flight on 11 January 2011, but the official reveal was on 11th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, in November 2016.