Dec 292010

Seems the Chinese have been busy lately, building their very own stealthy fighter (possible a strike-fighter, from the apparent size of the beast), the J-20. Currently undergoing taxi tests, with almost hourly updates with improved photos, indicating that the photos are so much leaking out, as being leaked out.

 Posted by at 12:06 am
  • Pat Flannery

    It looks like there was a lot of layout input from the MiG 1.44 prototype:
    ..though the air intakes are different.

  • Michael Antoniewicz II
  • archipeppe

    It seems to be back in the ol’good days of Cold War, when a lot of western analysts puzzled their minds about, bad blurred b/w shots of the latest Soviet marvels (how to not forget the MiG 31 “Firefox” of the novel/movie??).

    BTW this new Chinese figher is a mix-up or old and new with some “deja-vu” effect on background. Of course it shares some resemblance with the MiG 1.44 but not only.

    This new J-20 it seems to pay more to West than to East in terms of architecture (Lockheed early F-22 and of course the Northrop F-23), and it is also usual. When people think about Chinese new products and/or technologies it’s natural to see some Russian ascendancy even if it not proved.

    In reality if we look well to such new Chienese items we will discover more Western ascendancy than we believed. Only if we look well….

  • Huron

    Isn’t this is the fighter that the Obama administration claimed would not be seen for another decade?

  • Michael Antoniewicz II


    Nope. That was the US DoD for the last 4-6 years and they were talking world wide while ‘justifying’ the limited F-22 buy.

  • Michael Scott

    Are those canards or chines up near the front? Might just be the intake for the engines but they kinda look like chines/canards. Those images make it hard to tell.

  • Michael Scott

    BTW, I note that the engine exhausts look pretty traditional. Probably has more of a radar cross section and heat signature than the internalized exhaust ducting on the F-22. Probably even more RCS and heat signature than on the F-35 which is also more traditional. But, that may be something they address as they move towards full production.

    Looks like U.S. radar designers need to up their game if they actually bring this platform online. Hopefully they’ve already given some thought on how they defeat our own stealth technology.

  • Siergen

    One thing to remember about “stealth” is that you don’t need to be 100% invisible in order for it to be worth the effort.

    Say that your shaping and coatings only reduce your range of being detected by 50%. Is that enough for you get tactical surprise? Once detected, can you get into weapons range faster than he can intercept you? Can stand-off radar jamming reduce the remaining detection range even further?

  • Jim

    I wonder if this is similar to the PAK-FA in being more concerned with frontal low observability than anything else?


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  • Pat Flannery

    There’s a photo of it here with the vertical fins at odd angles:
    I can’t believe they are designed to pivot this far to the side in actual flight, as you would think they would tear off from the air drag.
    Regarding the engine nozzles, the MiG 1.44 had some sort of gold-white anti-IR coating inside of its engine nozzles, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this aircraft has that also:
    Next thing is figuring out if the engine nozzles can pivot for maneuverability which I’m expecting to be the case for an aircraft of this advanced of design, as the Russians can do that with their late version Flankers.
    One thing about this aircraft, is that knowing how fast the Chinese can engineer things, if it works as planned, I’ll bet they will have it in production (and for sale) a lot sooner than anyone expects.
    It would be hilarious if the Russians buy some to upgrade their air force with.

  • Pat Flannery

    Another goody is what the circular yellow thing under the small door over the tail is:
    Something related to a drag chute? It almost looks like some sort of pop-up rear facing radar dish.
    The Russians did experiments with aft-firing AAMs, and the Sukhoi Su-34 “Fullback” does have a small radar mounted in a stinger between its engines to track aircraft following it and direct AAMs towards them.

  • Pat Flannery

    Naw, it’s probably the bag for the braking chute; you can see some views of it and the chute itself here:

  • Michael Scott

    I think they are going for frontal view low RCS. Those rear nozzles don’t look very stealthy, but they may incrementally improve them. I’ve heard about the IR coating the the Russians had on their MiG nozzles and everything I’ve heard lead me to believe that it wasn’t terribly effective.

    I have heard that they plan to have thrust vectorable nozzles on the production plane, but I not sure those nozzles in that picture can vector. Apparently they want to use the thrust vectoring to maintain level cruising flight as deflections of the control surfaces somewhat compromises some of their stealth.

    This craft certainly makes you wonder about the wisdom to end production of the F-22. Then again, the F-22 is just so damn expensive that you have to lay some of the blame at the feet of either LockMart or the decision makers in the DoD, whoever ended up driving the price point so high.

    I certainly hope that our radar designers can bring their A-game and nullify some of the stealth of the J-20 or it’s derivatives, if indeed the Chinese do end up deploying it in appreciable numbers.

    Whats the range to Taiwan? Couple of hundred kilometers? If I were Taiwan’s defense establishment this aircraft’s development would make me pretty nervous.

  • Pat Flannery

    They were showing a program on the F/A-18 on the Military Channel this afternoon, and it appears to also have that cream-colored coating on the inside of its engine exhaust nozzles.
    I don’t know how reliable the info on it is; but this YouTube video about the fighter:
    …states it uses plasma stealth technology like that Russian-developed version they announced they had for sale in 1999. That was supposed to reduce radar return by 90% in the version they were willing to sell.

  • So?

    F-35 fuselage and intakes. F-22 nose. Mig 1.44 rear and wings.

  • It sure looks cool. I wonder how long it will be before Trumpeter or Great Wall models releases a kit. 🙂

  • Pat Flannery

    They aren’t sure, but this may be a mock-up of its cockpit:

  • Pat Flannery

    Okay, here’s the actual instrument panel, with a total of six, count ’em, _six_ visual displays:
    The aircraft is doing more high speed runs on the runway, and in the latest set, they’ve gotten the nose wheel off of the ground.