China will use J-20 fifth-generation fighters to patrol the disputed islands and territories.

In Chinese media, they praised that the J-20 now possesses superior specifications to the US F-22 and F-35, as well as the Russian Su-57. However, Chinese experts note that if a defect is found during operation, it will be remedied in their subsequent versions.

Chengdu J-20 review

Documents in the Chinese press have praised that J-20 was uniquely designed with aerodynamic layout. It is significantly different from the US F-22 and F-35, as well as the Russian Su-57. US aircraft have excellent stealth technology, but they have problems with maneuverability, so they are not suitable for dog fights. The Su-57 is the opposite – with its excellent aerodynamic design, but without stealth technology. The article continues.

Chinese experts noted that J-20 received one of the variants of PL-21 air-to-air missile. SINA believes that this variant is superior to the R-73 and AIM-120 AMRAAM. “Thanks to these missiles, the power of J-20 has increased significantly,” the document said. The article further notes: With the ability of Chinese manufacturers, from 2020, there will be up to 150 such fighters equipped each year for the military.

The Chinese are proud of their fifth-generation J-20 fighter.
The Chinese are proud of their fifth-generation J-20 fighter.

From the first photos of Chinese stealth fighters that appeared in 2010, the design of the J-20 appears to be a mixture of Lockheed F-22 Raptor and Mikoyan Project 1.44 experimental aircraft. J-20 has a length of 20.4m, wingspan of 15.5m, wing area of 78 square meters. The Chinese fighter jet has an empty weight of more than 19 tons while the maximum takeoff weight is 37 tons. Compared to the US F-22 or Russian Su-57, the J-20 is slightly larger in size. The overall design is a canard-delta configuration, a delta-wing with a pointed nose similar to the American F-22, the fuselage blended with low radar cross section and large twin tails.

In the design of the J-20, stealth plays an important role, the aircraft is covered with a stealth coating, along with a new low-observable intake. The nose and canopies of the J-20 themselves use the same stealth design similar to the F-22, providing similar performance characteristics in a proven design. The aircraft’s side and axi-symmetric engine nozzles may expose the aircraft to radar. The original prototype was powered by a WS-10G engine equipped with various jagged-edge nozzles and tiles for greater stealth. Plasma technology is also used in various exposed moving joints of the vertical tail fins and forward canards.

The Chengdu J-20, also known as Mighty Dragon
The Chengdu J-20, also known as Mighty Dragon

The Chinese fighter jet has two large internal weapon bays for long-range air-to-air missiles and two small sidebays for short-range air-to-air missiles. Missiles are stored in these weapon bays to reduce the cross section of the radar. It also has a large fuel tank for long-range missions, it can also carry more fuel and weapons than the US F-22 Raptor. The J-20 will be armed with internal cannon for close range combat missions. It is also expected to be equipped with air to surface missiles, anti-radiation missiles, laser-guided bombs and drop bombs. The internal weapon bays can carry air to air missiles such as PL-10, PL-12, PL-15, PL-21 and LS-6 Precision-guided bomb. It also has 4 external hard points to carry drop tanks.

J-20 internal weapon bay
J-20 internal weapon bay.

The J-20 fighter was originally intended to be equipped with a WS-15 engine designed specifically for stealth. However, immediately after being put to the test, the WS-15 engine showed low reliability when constantly having problems, even exploding in 2015. So far, Chinese engineers have not been able to overcome this problem. Currently the J-20 squadron in the Chinese air force is fitted with modified WS-10B engines from the WS-10 model for fourth generation fighters such as J-10 and J-11. This was considered a temporary solution before China began importing large quantities of Russian AL-31F engines. The J-20 is expected to have a top speed of Mach 2+, a range of 6,000 km while a combat range of 2,000 km and a service ceiling of 20,000 m.

China's fifth generation aircraft still has a lot to improve
China’s fifth generation aircraft still has a lot to improve.

The fact that China does not own an engine with similar features makes the J-20 unable to maintain stealth when having to turn on the afterburner to reach supersonic speed. Beijing had urged Moscow to sell them more modern engines, but it was rejected, because Russia worried China would copy them as weapons in the past. Beijing spent about $ 23.7 billion to develop modern engines between 2010 and 2015. Chinese media once claimed that the WS-15 engine was as efficient as the US F119 engine, but this is hard to come true. Chinese jet engines are still facing a series of problems. This will be a weakness that makes it difficult for the J-20 to keep up with the US F-22 and F-35 in potential wars.


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