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Role Combat aircraft
National origin People's Republic of China
Designer Chengdu Aerospace Corporation
Shenyang Aerospace Corporation
First flight January 11, 2011 (J-20)[1]
October 31, 2012 (J-31)
Introduction 2017 (Chengdu J-20)[2]
2018 (Shenyang J-31)
Status Under development
Primary user People's Liberation Army Air Force

J-XX[3] J-X,[3][4] and XXJ[3] are names applied by Western intelligence agencies to describe programs by the People's Republic of China to develop one or more fifth-generation fighter aircraft.[4][3] General He Weirong, Chief of Staff of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), stated that China had several such programs underway and that an undesignated fifth-generation fighter developed jointly by Chengdu Aerospace Corporation and Shenyang Aerospace Corporation would be in service by 2018.[5]


The PLAAF unveiled the program in late 2002.[6] A December 2002 Jane's Defence Weekly reported that Shenyang Aerospace Corporation had been selected to head research and development of the new fighter,[4] which was also stated in the New Scientist the same week.[7] Also, a 2006 article in Military Technology referred to three designs; two by Shenyang Aerospace Corporation and one by Chengdu Aerospace Corporation.[3]

According to Jane's, development of the subsystems, including an engine with thrust vectoring capability, and weapon suite for the next generation fighter had been under development. A photograph of a wind tunnel model published with the article showed a twin-engine aircraft with twin vertical tail fins. The aircraft would carry its weapons internally like the F-22 Raptor. New Scientist called attention to the angular, faceted features of the design, comparing them to the F-117 Nighthawk.

The article in Military Technology featured a picture of a completely different design, speculatively called J-14 and said to be a Shenyang project, with the designations J-12 and J-13 being applied to competing designs by Shenyang and Chengdu respectively. Since 2009, comments on the Chinese internet have indicated to a merging of the two efforts, to be named J-14. Chengdu was rumored to be responsible for the airframe, while Shenyang would be responsible for the engines and avionics.

In November 2009, General He Weirong, the Deputy Commander of the People's Liberation Army Air Force confirmed research and development of the 5th generation stealth fighter, and gave a possible in-service date of 2017 to 2019.[5][8]

A U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency official commenting on General He's statements indicated the DIA believes a first flight of the J-XX "will occur in the next few years", but that operational deployment of the fighter "in meaningful numbers" will not take place within the decade.[9] U.S. Air Force and U.S. intelligence officials have stated their belief that China likely has the resources, data and technology required to build a 5th generation fighter, although doubts remain in areas such as systems engineering, integration, and production processes. The U.S. Department of Defense expects China to have a handful of 5th generation fighters in service between 2020 and 2025, according to statements made by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates in July 2009.[10] However, a year later, in May 2010, United States intelligence stated that Chinese 5th generation fighter jets will be expected around 2018.[2] In 2011, Gates changed his position to state that China may have 50 stealth fighters by 2020 and a couple of hundred by 2025.[11]


The general design concept of the J-XX is that of a fifth-generation fighter which incorporates stealth, supercruise, super-maneuverability and short take-off capabilities, abbreviated "4S".[12] One or more of the proposed designs are believed to incorporate several design features for increasing stealth and maneuverability while decreasing weight and drag.

The Chinese state television broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) asserts:

A V-shaped pelikan tail could be implemented, replacing conventional vertical tail fins and horizontal stabiliser structures. This would be beneficial for reduction of radar signature, weight and aerodynamic drag, since control surface area and corresponding control mechanisms are reduced. Problems faced by this type of design are flight control system complexity and control surface loading. If the pelikan tail is adopted, use of engines with thrust vector control may alleviate these problems.[13]

CCTV also asserts:

The new fighter may have a significantly longer fuselage than other fifth generation fighter designs, such as the F-22, for reduction of transonic and supersonic drag.[14] A trapezoidal wing may be implemented for reduction of drag and radar signature.[15] Use of an 's'-shaped air inlet and boundary layer separation system would greatly reduce radar signature.[16]

A fifth generation fighter remains an ambitious goal for the PRC, because they are behind in the needed technologies such as aerospace-grade carbon fiber,[17][18][19] advanced fighter engines,[20] and AESA radar.[21]

Chengdu J-20[edit]

The Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter conducted its first flight on January 11, 2011 and entered service in 2017.[1]

Shenyang J-31[edit]

The Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter conducted its first flight on October 31, 2012 and will enter into service in 2018/2019.[22]

Xian H-20[edit]

The Xian H-20 is a subsonic stealth bomber design due to enter service in the future.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Chinese Stealth Fighter Makes First Test Flight". Fox News. 11 January 2011.
  2. ^ a b "New Chinese fighter jet expected by 2018: U.S. intelligence". Reuters. 21 May 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e Coniglio 2006, P.44
  4. ^ a b c Chang 2002
  5. ^ a b Govindasamy, 2009
  6. ^ "The Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force rolls out program for the development of a new stealth fighter, the J-X". Journal of Electronic Defense. Association of Old Crows. 1 January 2003. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2015 – via HighBeam Research.
  7. ^ Knight 2002
  8. ^ The forthcoming Chinese fourth-generation fighter
  9. ^ Gertz 2009
  10. ^ Gates 2009
  11. ^ Pennington, Matthew. "Gates: Despite early Stealth jet test, China's fighter fleet will lag US for years to come." The Canadian Press, 17 February 2011.
  12. ^ Deng 2009
  13. ^ The forthcoming Chinese fourth-generation fighter, p. 2.
  14. ^ The forthcoming Chinese fourth-generation fighter, p. 8.
  15. ^ The forthcoming Chinese fourth-generation fighter, p. 9.
  16. ^ The forthcoming Chinese fourth-generation fighter, p. 10.
  17. ^ Beckhusen, Robert. "Chinese Smuggler Tried to Sneak Carbon Fiber for Fighter Jets, Feds Claim." Wired Magazine, 28 September 2012.
  18. ^ Maddux, Mitchel. "‘Stealthy’ spy plan man is charged." NY Post, 27 September 2012.
  19. ^ Lowther, William. "Taiwanese embroiled in stealth-fighter sting." Taipei Times, 29 September 2012.
  20. ^ "Chinese ‘Mighty Dragon’ doomed to breathe Russian fire." RT, 11 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Chinese Avionics Advances Ripple Throughout Asia." Defense News, 20 June 2011.
  22. ^ "China unveils new fifth-generation stealth fighter".


External links[edit]