Is it a new Chinese stealth fighter or just a cleverly ‘photo-shopped’ picture? The buzz today is over images allegedly leaked on the Internet of a new stealth fighter for the Chinese Air Force. Looking very similar to the American F-22 Raptor and the old F-23 Black Widow II (that was canceled before production), many question the authenticity, and capability of the Chinese jet. Even it’s designation is mysterious with some calling it the J-20, the J-14 or the J. 13. For several years the stealth fighter Chinese status has been shrouded in secrecy. According to the Wall Street Journal, General He Weirong said back in 2009 that the new Air Force fighter would begin flight testing soon and enter service in “eight to ten years”. So has it?

chinese stealth fighter US F 23
No, this is not the new Chinese Stealth Fighter, but the YF-23, which was a competing design, that lost, against the F-22 Raptor. Image Source: NASA.gov

The images of the F-20, if that’s what it’s being called, allegedly show the new Chinese stealth fighter doing taxiing on a runway, presumably at the Aviation Design Institute in Chengdu. Some speculation is that a variant will be made for operating from the new aircraft carriers that China is building. This, and other new weapon systems and upgrades appear to be part of a Chinese strategy to let the United States, and the world, know they are ready to compete as a global power.

But just how stealthy is this new fighter? Stealth design comes from several forms of technology. The basic shape of an aircraft, or any vehicle, is one major factor. But so too are the materials used for construction, not to mention construction methods themselves. For example, the B-2 Spirit bomber, while getting much of it’s stealth from the radical shape of it’s airframe, also relies heavily on secret materials coating the surfaces, even it’s cockpit windows. Also, by building the plane with it’s engines buried deep inside the airframe, the B-2 is difficult to detect by it’s heat signature, rendering heat-seeking weapons less effective.

America’s F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lighting II are considered as 4th Generation jet fighters because of their maximum usage of available technologies. From their stealth aspects, fuel-stingy engines, and a highly sophisticated avionics and fire-control system, these two planes are in a league of their own. In ‘war game tests’, the F-22 has demonstrated the ability to take on and defeat multiple targets nearly simultaneously, thanks to the computer-aided ‘situational awareness’ the pilot has at his disposal.

While the new Chinese stealth fighter may be getting all the attention today, other new weapon systems being developed by China are causing concern. Admiral Robert F. Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, is more worried about China’s new Dong Feng 21D anti-ship missile. This land-based missile could be fired against aircraft carriers from distances up to 2,000 miles. One thing is for certain, even if the F-20 images of the new Chinese Air Force stealth fighter are fakes, China is arming itself to challenge the United States in the western Pacific, and beyond.

china stealth fighter f 20

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