Look out, F-22. Step aside, T-50. The ranks of the world's most advanced fighter jets just grew wider, courtesy of China's stealthy J-20.
The J-20's first successful test flight marks a new milestone in China's growth as a front-line military power. Just the name J-20 alone hints how great this technological leap forward really is: China's current front-line domestically designed fighter is the J-10.
Developed for the People's Liberation Air Force by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, the J-20 "Black Eagle" is a fifth generation, radar-eluding, twin-engine fighter aircraft prototype of which only two exist: one with Russian engines and the other with engines of Chinese design.
Performance-wise, the J-20 is comparable to America's F-22 Raptor, Russia's Sukhoi T-50 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter though the J-20 is larger in size with a correspondingly longer range and the capacity to carry more weaponry.
According to Guan Youfei, deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Office of China's Defense Ministry, said yesterday the development of the J-20 and of China's military hardware in general “is not aimed at any other country or any specific target”.
Guan reiterated China's traditional response in stating the nation's “weaponry was developed to safeguard China's sovereignty, national security and territorial integrity, and to adapt to the world's military changes.” Here's a short news video from Hong Kong's Apple Daily showing the J-20 undergoing taxiing tests along with footage of its competitors:
The first flight of the J-20 began at 12:50pm on January 11th, 2011, and lasted approximately 18 minutes. The location of the test was an airstrip at Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group's main facility in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu.
Though like Russia's new T-50 it will be a number of years before J-20s start rolling off Chinese production lines, the successful flight test of this advanced stealth jet effectively ensconces China among the world's top air powers. (via People's Daily Online, CSMonitor and Rednet)