China’s First 5th Generation Fighter Jet: Chengdu J-20

The Chengdu J-20 also known as Mighty Dragon is a single-seat, twinjet, all-weather, stealth,[10] fifth-generation fighter aircraft developed by China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The J-20 is designed as an air superiority fighter with precision strike capability; it descends from the J-XX program of the 1990s.

The aircraft entered service in March 2017, and began its combat training phase in September 2017.[13] The first J-20 combat unit was formed in February 2018. The J-20 is the world’s third operational fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft after the F-22 and F-35.

The aircraft has a maximum speed of 1,333 knots and a travel range of 3,200 nautical miles. It can fly up to 66,000 feet and can climb at a rate of 60,000 feet per minute. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 37,013 kg.

The J-20 has a long and wide fuselage, with the chiseled nose section and a frameless canopy resembling the F-22 Raptor. Immediately behind the cockpit are low observable intakes mounted with a pair of upturned canards. They are followed by leading-edge extension and a diamond wing. The aft section of J-20 features canted all-moving fins resembling those on F-35 and conventional round engine exhausts. The new J-20 has a canard-delta configuration, blended fuselage with low radar cross-section, and large canted twin tails. This Chinese fighter has two large internal weapon bays for long-range air-to-air missiles and two small sideways for short-range air-to-air missiles. Missiles are stored in these weapon bays in order to reduce the radar cross-section. It also has large fuel tanks for long-range missions. It carries more fuel and weapons than the American F-22 Raptor. Furthermore, this aircraft is capable of high-speed operations.

The main weapon bay is capable of housing both short and long-range air-to-air missiles (AAM; PL-9, PL-12C/D & PL-15 – PL-21) while the two smaller lateral weapon bays behind the air inlets are intended for short-range AAMs (PL-10). The fighter is able to carry four medium/long range AAMs in main bay and short-range missile one in each lateral weapon bay of the aircraft. A staggered arrangement with six PL-15s is possible depending on the rail launcher for missile mounted in the future.

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