China unveils top-secret stealth fighter

Beijing: China has unveiled its top secret stealth fighter at the international air show that opened at Zhuhai in Guangdong province. China’s International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, known as Airshow China, which opened to aviation experts and defence personnel, on Monday, is one of the world’s biggest aviation shows.

The highlight of the event was a fly-past by two of China’s latest radar-evading jet, J-20. Under development since the 1990s, the stealth fighter’s details were not known to the outside world, though there was much speculation about its performance and radar-evading capability. When the two J-20s made public debut at the air show, they grabbed the spectators’ eyeballs.

According to a BBC report, some have likened the new fighter to Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor jet. Industry analyst Bradley Perret of Aviation Week said the jet was “clearly a big step forward in Chinese combat capability.” Nevertheless, J-20s, which are expected to be inducted into Chinese air force in 2018, are seen as an answer to western domination of stealth fighters in the aviation market. They can also end American monopoly of stealth technology in the coming years, analysts feel.

It’s the first time China’s top-of-the-line fighter jets have been seen in public and it’s being viewed as a real statement of intent that China wants to close the technology gap with all other rivals, the BBC said, adding, visitors won’t be allowed to get too close to J-20s at the show. Their design is still top secret so they won’t be on display in the way that other aircraft are.

Once J-20s become operational, western military analysts see China asserting itself more in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the South China and East China seas.

The J-20 has been developed and made by the Chengdu Aircraft Industries Group, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

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