China's J-20 stealth fighter makes public air show debut

China's J-20 stealth fighter makes public air show debut

Beijing hopes the radar-evading fighter, which until now has only been seen by bloggers, will help narrow China's military technology gap with the United States. Both the J-20 and J-31 programs are believed to be aimed at supporting China in taking more assertive stances in territorial disputes with its neighbors over the East and South China Seas.

China carried out the first test flight of the J-20 back in 2011, but it made its public debut at today's airshow.

However, analysts said the brief and relatively cautious J-20 routine - the pilots did not open their weapon bay doors, or perform low-speed passes - answered few questions.

Published in the Chinese Journal of Aeronautics, the paper was written by six authors, including Yang Wei of the Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute, who is the J-20's chief designer.

The warplane is China's second stealth fighter.

"I think we learned very little". It officially entered Chinese military service in July this year.

China's J-20 stealth fighter makes public air show debut

We will keep you posted as more details on the J-20 come to light, possibly over the course of Zhuhai air show that's now underway. The F-22, developed for the U.S. Air Force, is the J-20's closest lookalike.

China hopes the J-31, still in development, will compete with the USA -made F-35 stealth aircraft in the global market, according to China military watchers and state media reports.

Cao Qingfeng, an aircraft engineer watching the flypast, said the "stunning" display was a show of China's strengthening aircraft industry and manufacturing - and Western officials agreed.

The show will also feature the introduction of the Y-20 transport aircraft. Once inducted, J-20 will make China's air force the second strongest in the world - a commendable achievement given that China was nearly nowhere around 20 years ago. Other drones and fighter jets including the Chinese-made military assault vehicles and anti-aircraft missile systems are also demonstrated outside the exhibition center.

Boeing and Airbus are in a heated competition to win Chinese customers for their aircraft, while homegrown national champions COMAC and AVIC aim to capture market share for Chinese firms.

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