The J-20 is again set to grab much attention at the upcoming Zhuhai Airshow. Photo: Weibo
The PLA has a small squadron of J-20 jets in service. Photo: Weibo

At least four J-20 stealth fighters from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force buzzed the southern coastal city of Zhuhai on Tuesday and Wednesday in a flyover to promote China’s largest biennial air show.

Warplanes and civil aircraft from home and abroad are set to descend on the city starting next Tuesday.

The six-day event to take place at Zhuhai Jinwan Airport will feature J-20 aerobatic performances, even though the airshow’s organizer, the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority, had yet to include the PLA’s fifth-generation fighter on its long list of participating aircraft.

The J-20 made a brief flyby debut at the opening ceremony of the 2016 event in Zhuhai.

The Beijing-based Global Times said that this year the J-20s could conduct flyovers in formation and solo aerobatics performances to show off the aircraft’s combat maneuverability, citing a military observer.

One military source was also quoted by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post as saying the public could get its first glimpse of the J-20s, which would be complete with the indigenous WS-15 engine with cutting-edge single-crystal turbine blades, at Zhuhai airport next week.

The PLA’s Y-20 airlifter. Photo: Handout

The PLA’s heavy transport airlifter Y-20, the H-6K bomber, the KJ-500 early warning aircraft, the GJ-2 unmanned aerial vehicle and the J-10B fighter will be among other feature exhibits the PLA Air Force is expected to showcase.

The Y-20, nicknamed “Chubby Girl” because of its bulging airframe that can take a payload of 66 tons, was also set to steal the limelight from the J-20 during a take-off and airdrop show that has been confirmed by the organizer. It is not yet clear if PLA airmen will board a Y-20 and parachute into the fair venue.

Chinese papers have also revealed that a novel tiltrotor drone, developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp and codenamed the CH-10, will have its maiden flight at the airshow as well.

The CH-10 tiltrotor drone. Photo: Handout

The CH-10 is a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) integrating helicopter technologies on a largely fixed-wing frame so that it can take off and land vertically and hover in midair, while also being able to cruises at high speeds for an extended range.

The new drone can take off and land on medium-sized and large destroyers and frigates of the PLA Navy on reconnaissance missions.

The CH-10, sporting a relatively large airframe compared with other drones, could also be the prototype of the PLA’s future manned tiltrotor aircraft.

The PLA is eager to acquire and develop technologies for its own version of the US Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, a multi-mission tiltrotor aircraft designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.