China’s stealth fighter goes into mass production after thrust upgrade


  • The J-20B has overcome agility problems to finally be considered a fully fledged fifth-generation fighter, military source says
  • Aircraft still will be fitted with Russian engine but ‘Chinese version could be ready in a year or two’
China’s first J-20 stealth fighter jets entered service in 2017. Photo: AP

A modified version of

China’s first stealth fighter jet, the J-20, 

has formally entered mass production, with upgrades earning it a place as a fifth-generation fighter jet, according to a military source close to the project.

The moment was marked at a ceremonial unveiling of the modified J-20B stealth fighter jet on Wednesday attended by many senior military leaders including Central Military Commission (CMC) vice-chairman General Zhang Youxia, the source said.

Zhang is the second-ranked vice-chairman of the CMC and is in charge of weapons development for the People’s Liberation Army.

“Mass production of the J-20B started on Wednesday. It has finally become a complete stealth fighter jet, with its agility meeting the original criteria,” the source said.

Thrust vector control (TVC) allows pilots to better control the aircraft by redirecting engine thrust.

In 2018, China debuted its J-10C multirole fighter –

fitted with a WS-10 Taihang engine  – at the China air show in Zhuhai, putting the aircraft through its paces in a performance that indicated that China had succeeded in thrust technology.

Chinese engineers

have been developing high-thrust turbofan WS-15 engines

for the J-20, but that work has fallen behind schedule.

“The Chinese engine designed for the J-20s still failed to meet requirements, but its development is going quite smoothly, and it may be ready in the next one or two years,” the source said.

“The ultimate goal is to equip the J-20B fighter jets with domestic engines.”

Powerful Dragon v Raptor: how China’s J-20 stealth fighters compare with America’s F-22sPowerful Dragon v Raptor: how China’s J-20 stealth fighters compare with America’s F-22s

Powerful Dragon v Raptor: how China’s J-20 stealth fighters compare with America’s F-22s

China’s first batch of J-20s entered service in 2017 when the US decided to deploy more than 100 F-35s to Japan and South Korea that year.

The J-20 was meant to be a fifth-generation fighter jet on a par with Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning multirole strike fighters.

Fifth-generation fighters are defined by their stealth technology, supersonic cruising speed, super manoeuvrability, and highly integrated avionics.

But the earlier version of the J-20 was described by Western media as a “dedicated interceptor aircraft” because of its lack of agility.

“The launch of the J-20B means this aircraft now is a formal fifth-generation fighter jet,” the military source said, adding that Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC), which manufactures the J-20s, had received “heavy orders” from the PLA.

CAC set up its fourth production line in 2019, each one with a capacity to make about one J-20 a month.

China’s J-20 stealth fighters ready for combatChina’s J-20 stealth fighters ready for combat

China’s J-20 stealth fighters ready for combat


2 Comments on “China’s stealth fighter goes into mass production after thrust upgrade”

  1. Simon says:

    The F35 is not a fully fledged 5th gen fighter because it cannot super cruise, also it can be easily detected. Its role has since been reduced to reconnaissance.
    Thrust vectoring only exist in f35B for VTOL take off and land purposes and limited in F22 therefore the criteria for the J20 to have full thrust vectoring capabilities in order to qualify as a 5th gen fighter is placing it at a much higher thresh hold to achieve that status than western standard.

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    • Steve says:

      Agree 100% – worst still the flying turkey is not a air superiority fighter, cannot go on its own, needs a boyfriend for protection – f15e to spot & snipe. One is Mr. Spotter the other Mrs. Sniper.

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