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Expert: Time still needed for J-20 fighter to be operational though trial flights are ongoing

(People's Daily Online)    13:46, May 18, 2015
J-20 (File photo)

The J-20 combat aircraft, a new generation of combat aircraft, is currently engaged in intensive trial flights. According to photos circulating online, a newly designed J-20 coded 2013 carried out a series of low altitude maneuvers that demonstrated its relatively advanced performance. Concerning the question of when the aircraft will be on active service, military expert Song Xinzhi said in a Beijing Television broadcast that J-20 is still using an prototype engine and it would be optimistic to expect it to come into service within one or two years. 

From the photo we can clearly see features of the nose including the radome layout, the cockpit, and the canards.

An online report from Russia indicated that the maiden flight of the first prototype was made in January 2011, that China has already tested the sixth prototype of J-20, and that the J-20 at its initial stage is already an aircraft carrier killer. 

According to the report, it takes five to six years for a new fighter to enter service. Therefore, it is very likely that this fighter will be equipped with a full set of avionics and arms in 2017.

Could the J-20 be operational within two years? Song Xinzhi points out that J-20 is still using a prototype engine which can only meet the demands of trial flights. A better engine is needed to unleash its full performance potential. Only when the engine has been developed and installed in the plane can we say that complete success has been achieved in China’s fourth generation fighters.

Song Xinzhi notes that China is manufacturing this fourth generation fighters independently. The canard configuration in particular is a most difficult aerodynamic layout, and the results are more than satisfactory. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yao Chun,Huang Jin)

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