Video surfaces online of suspected J-20 test plane
China’s new fifth-generation stealth jet is believed to be drawing closer to completion after a supposed low-rate-initial-production, or LRIP, test plane was spotted last week.
According to Sputnik, video footage from Chinese websites emerged showing the suspected J-20 unit in action.
This would be the second J-20 caught by onlookers after one was spotted in December. Unlike that unit, however, the most recent J-20 was painted in gray and marked with no identifiable serial numbers — it was reported that one of the few noticeable markings on the fighter was a toned-down version of the national insignia.
Several sources suggest that this would be the fourth LRIP developed by the Chinese air force. But despite the evidence, such as satellite imagery of J-20s from China’s Flight Test Establishment base, government-owned news outlets have not confirmed the existence of the jet.
The J-20’s progress comes at the heels of a congressional report from the US Defense Department that claims it may become operational in 2018, while some sources have even claimed it would be combat-ready by 2019.
Aviation expert Carlo Kopp of the think tank Air Power Australia writes, “By cleverly exploiting contemporary United States-developed stealth fighter shaping design rules, Chengdu engineers were able to rapidly get an excellent basic shaping design with a minimum of risk and cost, and significant long-term stealth performance growth potential.”
Full article: China’s new stealth fighter another step toward completion (South China Morning Post)