China’s most advanced stealth fighter shows off its weapons for the first time, revealing some serious heat

The J-20 fighter aircraft VCG/VCG via Getty Images
  • A pair of Chengdu J-20 stealth fighters performed a demonstration flight at China’s largest aviation expo with their missile bays open, showing off the onboard weapons for the first time.
  • The fighter carries four medium-to-long-range air-to-air missiles and two short-to-intermediate-range missiles.
  • Chinese experts say that the powerful aircraft can rival America’s F-35 and F-22 stealth fighters, although its capabilities have never been tested in combat.

China’s most advanced stealth fighter showed off its six onboard missiles for the first time on Sunday at the country’s largest airshow.

A pair of Chengdu J-20 stealth fighters tore across the sky with their missile bays open during a demonstration flight on the last day of Airshow China 2018 in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China.

The flight coincided with the 69th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese air force.

In the main bays, the J-20 appears to be carrying four beyond-visual-range PL-15 medium-to-long-range air-to-air missiles, according to The War Zone. On the sides of the aircraft are a pair of lethal PL-10 short-to-intermediate-range air-to-air missiles that could prove useful in a dogfight, as well as engagements on the edge of visual range.

The government-controlled Global Times, citing Chinese experts,argued that “the move displayed the J-20’s superiority” over US stealth fighters like the F-35 and F-22 and the growing confidence of the People’s Liberation Army.

Chinese experts criticised the F-22 for its outdated technology and the F-35 for its inherent defects. One expert, Song Zhongping, previouslycommented that “the J-20 will engage with rivals in the future who dare to provoke China in the air.”

While the Chinese stealth fighter has participated in combat training exercises, the J-20, unlike its American counterparts, has never been deployed in actual combat.

The aircraft lacks the all-aspect stealth expected of a true fifth-generation fighter, and it is also held back by its inferior engine technology. The aircraft was expected to receive a new engine, but it remains unreliable in testing, indicating that for now, the pride of the Chinese air force continues to depend on Russia for its engine technology.

With upgraded engines, the J-20 will likely become a much more capable weapon.