J-20 “2101” takes to the skies

(From Popular Science)

By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer

Japan recently made news by showing off the X-2 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Advanced Technology Demonstrator – Experimental (ATD-X),a full-scale test model of a domestically designed fifth-generation fighter, unofficially called ‘ShinShin.’ But on Jan. 18, China demonstrated it is well past demonstrators. At the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation factory in Sichuan, China it began the test flights on “2101”, the first production J-20 stealth fighter.

China 2101 in flight. Yellow primer will be painted with radar-absorbing paint when plane is delivered to Chinese air force.

“2101” is the first airframe in the inaugural production batch of J-20 fighters. With the first J-20 squadron expected to be fully delivered by year’s end, the China Flight Testing Evaluation regiment will being developing operating procedures, tactics and technical proficiency to bring the J-20 to combat readiness. At this pace, it is expected that in 2017-2018, the Chinese Air Force will have its first operational stealth fighter squadron.

The J-20 fighter is the showcase of modern Chinese military technology. While it currently relies on Russian AL-31 series turbofan engines (the powerful domestic WS-15 engine will enter service in 2019-2021), everything else on the J-20 is Chinese; its stealth coating, infrared sensor, powerful AESA radar, are all domestically made. Read more

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