Photo: China defence
We wrote about the J-20’s impressive aerial trials a few months ago when China “leaked” the following photos.Then, we mentioned similarities between the J-20 and the U.S. F-22 Raptor, but after this picture from China defence popped up a couple of days ago, we had to revisit the J-20/Raptor connection.
China has long been accused of industrial espionage and possibly reverse-engineered an old F-117 — shot down over Serbia in 1999 — to get them where they are in stealth technology today.
But the similarities between the J-20 and the Raptor in this heads up display and cockpit are worth noting. Might we say, eerily similar?
Anyway, no word on whether J-20 pilots are experiencing the same problems as the F-22 Raptor pilots, but given the Raptor’s spotty performance record it’s possible Beijing is breathing a sigh of relief that it didn’t copy everything too closely.
The prototype J-20 is said to be using the Saturn AL-31 turbofan engine developed by the Russians for their Su-27 air superiority fighter.
Reuben Johnson at The Washington Times reports the Chinese may be as much as 10 years away from producing an original stealth engine to slip into the J-20.
In the meantime, they’ll have to take comfort in the fact that while the F-22 Raptor may be more agile and made entirely in the U.S., the Dragon carries more fuel and weapons than Lockheed’s fighter.
The J-20’s development is also moving along much faster than anyone had expected. Back in 2009, Gen. He Weirong, deputy commander of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force said in a TV interview that the J-20 wouldn’t be operational until 2017-2019. That estimate will likely be revised if work continues at the current pace.
Bill Sweetman at AviationWeek points out that for all its headway, no one is yet sure what the J-20 is for. He speculates that given the aircraft’s size and weapons bays, it may be used to “threaten intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets and tankers, by using stealth and speed to defeat their escorts.”
The J-20 has a large weapon bay with two smaller lateral bays for short and long range air-to-air missiles
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