|Role||Stealth air superiority fighter / multirole combat aircraft|
|Manufacturer||Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group|
|Designer||Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute|
|First flight||11 January 2011|
|Status||In development / flight testing|
|Primary user||People's Liberation Army Air Force|
|Number built||6 prototypes|
The Chengdu J-20 (simplified Chinese: 歼-20; traditional Chinese: 殲-20) is a Stealth, twin-engine fifth-generation fighter aircraft prototype being developed by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group for the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The J-20 made its first flight on 11 January 2011, and is expected to be operational in 2018.
China's J-20 platform has the potential to be a capable, long-range strike system in the Asia-Pacific region, but a number of technical challenges will need to be overcome before production can begin.
Origins of the J-20 came from the J-XX program which was started in the late 1990s. A proposal from Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, designated “Project 718”, had won the PLAAF endorsement following a 2008 competition against a Shenyang proposal that was reportedly even larger than the J-20.
On 11 January 2011, the J-20 made its first flight, lasting about 15 minutes, with a Chengdu J-10S serving as the chase aircraft. After the successful flight, a ceremony was held, attended by the pilot, Li Gang, Chief Designer Yang Wei and General Li Andong (Deputy-Director of General Armaments).
On 26 February 2012, a J-20 performed various low-altitude maneuvers. On 10 May 2012, a second prototype underwent high speed taxiing tests, and flight testing that began later that month. On 20 October 2012, photographs of a new prototype emerged, featuring a different radome, which was speculated to house an AESA radar.
On 16 January 2014, a J-20 prototype was revealed, showing a new intake and stealth coating, as well as redesigned vertical stabilizers, and a system that appeared to be an Electro-Optical Targeting System. This particular aircraft numbered '2011' performed its maiden flight on 1 March 2014 and is said to represent the initial pre-serial standard. Overall the year 2014 was quite a successful one and until the end of 2014 three more pre-serial prototypes were flown: number '2012' on 26 July 2014, number '2013' on 29 November 2014 and finally number '2015' on 19 December 2014.
The J-20 has a long and wide fuselage, with the chiseled nose section and a frameless canopy resembling that of the F-22 Raptor. Immediately behind the cockpit are low observable intakes. All-moving canard surfaces with pronounced dihedral are placed behind the intake ramps, followed by leading edge extensions merging into delta wing with forward-swept trailing edges. The aft section features twin, outward canted all-moving fins, short but deep ventral strakes, and conventional round engine nozzles.
In one paper published on a Chinese aerodynamic journal, a designer of J-20 described high instability as an important design criterion for J-20. A canard is used to achieve sustained pitch authority at high angle of attack, as traditional tail-plane would start to lose effectiveness. This is because tail-plane would go into even higher angle-of-attack and stall, whereas canard can avoid this effect by deflecting to the same magnitude but opposite to the angle-of-attack. A canard configuration can also provide good supersonic performance, excellent supersonic and transonic turn performance, and improved short-field landing performance compared to the conventional design.
The same journal paper also explained how leading edge extensions and body lift are incorporated to enhance performance in a canard layout through interactions among vortices. One graph shows the configuration to generate 1.2 times the lift of an ordinary canard delta, and 1.8 times more lift than a pure delta configuration of similar size. This allows the use of a smaller wing, reducing supersonic aerodynamic drag without compromising transonic lift-to-drag ratio characteristics that are crucial to the aircraft's turn performance.
The production version of the J-20's is believed to be the WS-15, a turbofan engine currently under development. According to Global Security, the engine core, composed of high pressure compressors, the combustion chamber, and high pressure turbines were successfully tested in 2005. An image of the core appeared in the 2006 Zhuhai Air Show. Since 2012, China has reported numerous breakthroughs in development military turbofans and invested up to 20 billion US dollars in turbofan engine research and development. The J-20 has the potential to rivial the F-22A Raptor in performance once appropriate engines become available.
Western analyst believe that the current prototypes are powered by WS-10 or the AL-31F engine. China is a large importer of Russian-made jet engines, prompting rumors that China seeks to obtain AL-41 117S engines for the initial production of J-20 through Su-35 purchases. However, these rumors have since been denied by China, and were proven as false. It was also reported that Russia approached China in an unsuccessful bid to sell 117S engines during the 2012 Zhuhai Air Show.
The aircraft features a glass cockpit, with 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).
A PLAAF Tupolev Tu-204 testbed aircraft was seen featuring a J-20 nose cone. It is believed to house the Type 1475 (KLJ-5) active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar with 1856 transmit/receive modules.
Prototype "2011" featured a revised nose section with elements resembling a IRST/EOTS system used to hunt low observable aircraft, and a metal finish that loosely reminds the radar absorbing Haze Paint first used on F-16s, and reportedly included sensor fusion technology.
Two smaller lateral weapon bays behind the air inlets are intended for short-range AAMs (PL-9). These bays allow closure of the bay doors prior to firing the missile, thus enhancing stealth.
No gun has yet been seen on any J-20 model and there have not been signs of provisions for one.
Analysts noted that J-20's nose and canopy use similar stealth shaping design as the F-22, yielding similar signature performance in a mature design at the front, while the aircraft's side and axi-symmetric engine nozzles may expose the aircraft to radar. One prototype has been powered by WS-10G engines equipped with a different jagged-edge nozzles and tiles for greater stealth.
Others have raised doubts about the use of canards on a low-observable design, stating that canards would guarantee radar detection and a compromise of stealth. However, canards and low-observability are not mutually exclusive designs. Northrop Grumman's proposal for the U.S Navy's Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) incorporated canards on a stealthy airframe. Lockheed Martin employed canards on a stealth airframe for the Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) program during early development before dropping them due to complications with aircraft carrier recovery. McDonnell Douglas and NASA's X-36 featured canards and was considered to be extremely stealthy. Radar cross-section can be further reduced by controlling canard deflection through flight control software, as is done on the Eurofighter.
The diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) enables an aircraft to reach Mach 2.0 with a simpler intake than traditionally required, and improves stealth performance by eliminating radar reflections between the diverter and the aircraft's skin. Analysts have noted that the J-20 DSI reduces the need for application of radar absorbent materials. Additionally, the "bump" surface reduces the engine's exposure to radar, significantly reducing a strong source of radar reflection.
The first test flight coincided with a visit by United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to China, and was initially interpreted by Pentagon officials as a possible signal to the visiting U.S. delegation. Speaking to reporters in Beijing, secretary Gates said "I asked President Hu about it directly, and he said that the test had absolutely nothing to do with my visit and had been a pre-planned test." It was reported that President Hu seemed surprised by Gates' inquiry, prompting speculations that the test might have been a signal sent unilaterally by Chinese military. Abraham M. Denmark of the Center for New American Security in Washington, along with Michael Swaine, an expert on the PLA and United States - China military relations, explained that senior officials are not involved in day-to-day micromanagement of aircraft development, so being unaware about the test should not be a surprise.
Robert Gates tried to play down significance of the aircraft by questioning how stealthy the J-20 may be, but admitted it would potentially "put some of our capabilities at risk, and we have to pay attention to them, we have to respond appropriately with our own programs." The U.S. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper testified that the United States knew about the program for a "long time" and that the test flight was not a surprise.
Loren B. Thompson felt that J-20's combination of forward stealth and long range puts America's surface assets at risk, and that a long-range maritime strike capability may cause the United States more concern than a short range air-superiority fighter like the F-22. In its 2011 Annual Report to Congress, the Pentagon described the J-20 as "a platform capable of long range, penetrating strikes into complex air defense environments." A 2012 report by the U.S.‐China Economic and Security Review Commission suggests that the United States may have underestimated the speed of development of the J-20 and several other Chinese military development projects.
Observers are not able to reach a consensus on J-20's primary role. Based on initial photographs with exclusive focus on the aircraft's apparent size, early assumptions painted the J-20 as a F-111 equivalent with little to no air-to-air ability. Others saw the J-20 as a potential air superiority fighter once appropriate engines become available. More recent speculations look at J-20 as an air-to-air fighter with an emphasis on forward-aspect stealth, high-speed aerodynamics, range, a modest internal payload, and adequate agility for self-defense. The J-20 could threaten vulnerable tankers and ISR/C2 platforms, depriving America and its allies of radar coverage and strike range.
In April 2009, a Wall Street Journal report indicated that, according to American government officials, information from the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II was compromised by unknown attackers that allegedly appeared to originate from China. There is some speculation that the compromise of the Lockheed Martin F-35 program may have helped in the development of the J-20.
Data from Aviation Week & Space Technology
- Crew: one (pilot)
- Length: 20 m (66.8 ft)
- Wingspan: 13 m (44.2 ft)
- Height: 4.45 m (14 ft 7 in)
- Wing area: 78 m2 (840 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 19,391 kg (42,750 lb)
- Gross weight: 32,092 kg (70,750 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 36,288 kg (80,001 lb) upper estimate
- Fuel capacity: 11,340 kg (25,000 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Saturn AL-31F (prototype) or Xian WS-15 (production) afterburning turbofans, 76.18 kN (17,125 lbf) thrust each dry, 122.3 or 179.9 kN (27,500 or 40,450 lbf) with afterburner
- Wing loading: 410 kg/m2 (84 lb/sq ft)
- Thrust/weight: 0.94 (prototype with interim engines)
- PL-10 SRAAM
- PL-12 Medium Range AAM
|J-20 Flight Testing|
|J-20 undergoing flight testing from ifeng.com, 2015.|
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
- "Chinese Stealth Fighter Makes First Flight". Fox News. 11 January 2011.
- Sweetman, William (3 January 2011). "China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter In Taxi Tests". Aviation Week. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- "6th J-20 Stealth Fighter Rolls Out, More to Soon Follow". PopularScience.com. 2014-12-23. Retrieved 2014-12-24.
- "最新2015号歼20曝光 中国隐形战机研发超俄罗斯". sina.com.cn. 2014-12-19. Retrieved 2014-12-19.
- "Chengdu J-20 – China’s 5th Generation Fighter". Defense Update. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
- "《面对面》 对话何为荣： 中国正在研制第四代战机". Xinhua News Agency. 2 February 2013.
- Erickson, Andrew and Gabe Collins. "China’s New J-20 Fighter: Development Outlook and Strategic Implications." andrewerickson.com, 17 January 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
- "中国空军选定下一代战机由611所方案胜出". Warchina.com. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "Chinese Stealth Fighter Unveiled?". Australian Aviation. 30 December 2010.
- "Video: Chinese Stealth Fighter." Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
- "Chinese Stealth Fighter Makes First Test Flight". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
- Wall, Robert. "J-20 Completes First Flight". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- "Chinese J-20 Fighter First Flight Ceremony." AirForceWorld.com. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- "China stealth fighter "appears" to have made second flight". Reuters. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "Chinese J-20 stealth fighter makes third flight; landing gears folded." China Defence Mashup, 5 May 2011.
- "Video: J-20 Combat Maneuver Tests.". YouTube. 26 February 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "Video: J-20 Prototype 2002 Ground Tests." YouTube. 30 May 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- Axe, David (16 May 2012). "China Flies New Stealth Fighter as Problems Plague U.S. Jets". Wired.
- "This might be China's third J-20 stealth fighter". Foreign Policy. 23 October 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- Cenciotti, David (26 March 2013). "China's new stealth fighter's missile launch rails prove Beijing can improve U.S. technology". The Aviationist. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- "J-20." Baidu. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- Axe, David. "China’s Latest Stealth Fighter Prototype Has, Well, Actual Stealth Features.". medium.com. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Upgraded, third prototype." The Aviationist, 21 February 2014
- "J-20 Prototype 2011 Taxi Test." Youtube. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
- Kopp, Carlo; Goon, Peter (1 January 2011). "Chengdu J-XX Stealth Fighter Prototype". Air Power Australia.
- "Worldview Report | Vol. 14" digitalglobe.com 2 January 2013
- "一种小展弦比高升力飞机的气动布局研究 A High Lift Low-Aspect Ratio Aerodynamic Configuration" sina.com Retrieved 20 March 2013
- "一种小展弦比高升力飞机的气动布局研究 A High Lift Low-Aspect Ratio Aerodynamic Configuration" baidu.com Retrieved 20 March 2013
- "Translation of article 一种小展弦比高升力飞机的气动布局研究" http://www.defence.pk Retrieved 20 March 2013
- "Super Agile aircraft and method of flying it in supernormal flight." Google Patents. Retrieved 20 March 2013
- Probert, B. "Aspects of Wing Design for Transonic and Supersonic Combat." NATO. Retrieved: 23 January 2011.
- Neblett, Evan et al. "Canards." AOE 4124: Configuration Aerodynamics, Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, Virginia Tech, 17 March 2003. Retrieved: 28 November 2009.
- Kopp, Carlo (6 May 2011). "An Initial Assessment of China's J-20 Stealth Fighter". The Jamestown Foundation.
- "China Aerospace Propulsion Technology Summit.". International Aircraft Engine Association, 19 June 2012.
- Fisher, Richard, Jr. "October Surprises in Chinese Aerospace." International Assessment and Strategy Center, 9 January 2013
- "WS-15" Global Security, 11 July 2011
- "The 'Long Pole in the Tent': China’s Military Jet Engines.". The Diplomat. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "China makes progress in developing alloy for airplane engines.". Focustaiwan.tw. 21 December 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "China Has Made Great Breakthrough in High-temperature Alloy to Biggest Military Jet Engine." news.chinatungsten.com
- Majumdar, Dave (13 February 2011). "J-20 a ‘wake-up call,’ former intel chief says". AirForce Times.
- Johnson, Reuben F. (25 August 2011). "China’s development of fighter jets relies on Russian systems". Washington Times.
- "China Buys Su-35s - Business Insider". Business Insider. 28 November 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "中国否认俄媒体有关可能购买48架苏-35歼击机的报道" chinese.ruvr.ru 5 December 2012
- "俄军企称希望向中国出口117S大推力发动机" sina.com 5 December 2012
- "Not so hidden dragon – China’s J-20 assessed." Royal Aeronautical Society. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- "Photo: China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter Head-On." defensetech.org. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- "Is China Stealing America’s Top Stealth Fighter Jet Secrets?" GIZMODO Australia. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- "Stealth Radar Tests on Passenger Jet". Popular Science. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Cenciotti, David (21 February 2014). "Upgraded, third prototype of China’s stealth jet ready for maiden flight". The Aviationist. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
- "China claims innovation in J-20 weapons bay design" AINonline, Retrieved March 2, 2014
- Sweetman, Bill. "J-20 Stealth Fighter Design Balances Speed And Agility" Aviation Week & Space Technology, 3 November 2014. Accessed: 5 November 2014. Archived on 5 November 2014
- Axe, David. "Chengdu J-20: China’s First Stealth Fighter." warisboring.com, 29 December 2010.
- Waldron, Greg. "Long March: China’s fifth-generation fighter is years away." Flight International. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
- Hodge, Nathan. "China’s J-20 Fighter: Stealthy or Just Stealthy-Looking?" The Wall Street Journal, 19 January 2011.
- "F-23A & NATF-23" yf-23.net, 15 January 2013
- "NATF-23 diagram in hi-rez." Aerospace Project Review 15 January 2013.
- Sweetman, Bill. "From JAST To J-20". Aviation Week, 14 January 2011.
- Sweetman 2005, p. 122–124.
- "Agility+Stealth = X-36: formula for an advanced fighter " Design News. 14 January 2013
- "Faq Eurofighter (translation)". Retrieved 29 November 2009.
- Rosenkranz, Martin. "Austrian Eurofighter committee of inquiry." pp. 76–77. (English translation). Google. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Hehs, Eric. "JSF Diverterless Supersonic Inlet." LockMart, 15 July 2000.
- "J-20's Stealth Signature Poses Interesting Unknowns." Aviation Week. Retrieved 13 January 2013
- "Fast History: Lockheed's Diverterless Supersonic Inlet Testbed F-16" aviationintel.com, 13 January 2013
- Wines, Michael and Elisabeth Bumiller. "Test Unrelated to Gates Visit, China Says." The New York Times, 12 January 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
- Barnes, Julian E. (12 January 2011). "Gates, China Discuss Nuclear Strategy". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Stewart, Phil (11 January 2011). "Gates: China confirms stealth jet test-flight". Reuters. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
- Bumiller, Elisabeth and Michael Wines. "Test of Stealth Fighter Clouds Gates Visit to China." The New York Times, 11 January 2011.
- Bumiller, Elisabeth. "U.S. Will Counter Chinese Arms Buildup." The New York Times, 8 January 2011.
- Clapper, James R. "World Wide Threats Hearing" Director of National Intelligence, 10 February 2011.
- Thompson, Loren B. "Chinese Fighter Test Embarrasses Gates, Casts Doubt On Goals." Lexington Institute, 13 January 2011.
- "Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, 2011." Office of the Secretary of Defense, 6 May 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
- "Indigenous Weapons Development in China’s Military Modernization." U.S.‐China Economic and Security Review Commission Staff Research Report, 2012.
- Sweetman, Bill. "J-20 – The Dragon Gets Airborne." Aviation Week, 11 January 2011.
- Sweetman, Bill. "China's Stealth Striker." Aviation Week. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- Sweetman, Bill. "Fog Lifts At Chengdu." Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- Axe, David. "China’s Over-hyped Stealth Jet." The Diplomat, 7 January 2010.
- Trimble, Stephen. "J-20: China's ultimate aircraft carrier-killer?" Flight International, 9 February 2012.
- Kopp, Carlo (9 January 2011). "The Strategic Impact of China's J-XX Stealth Fighter". Air Power Australia.
- Groman, Siobhan, August Cole and Yochi Dreazen. "Computer Spies Breach Fighter-Jet Project." Wall Street Journal, 21 April 2009. Retrieved: 23 January 2011.
- Bill Sweetman (2014-11-03). "J-20 Stealth Fighter Design Balances Speed And Agility". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved 2014-11-08.
- Brian Hsu. "China Claims Innovation in J-20 Weapons Bay Design | Aviation International News". Ainonline.com. Retrieved 2014-03-20.
- 中南海保镖 (4 May 2015). "2013号歼-20频繁试飞：垂直爬升接筋斗身姿矫健". ifeng.com (in Chinese).
- Kopp, Carlo. "The Strategic Impact of China's J-XX (J-20) Stealth Fighter." Air Power Australia NOTAM #70, 9 January 2011.
- Kopp, Carlo and Peter A. Goon. "Chengdu J-XX (J-20) Stealth Fighter Prototype; A Preliminary Assessment." ausairpower.net Technical Report APA-TR-2011-0101, January 2011.
- Rupprecht, Andreas. "Enter the Dragon: The Chengdu J-20." Combat Aircraft Monthly, (Ian Allan Publishing), Issue 12/3, March 2011, pp. 34–41.
- Sweetman, Bill. Lockheed Stealth. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Zenith Press, 2005. ISBN 0-76031-940-5.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chengdu J-20.|