The Chengdu J-20 is a stealth, twin – engine, fifth generation fighter aircraft which is being produced by the Chengdu Aerospace Corporation for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The J-20’s first appearance was made on 11 January 2011 after which six prototypes were produced with various modifications. The latest two prototypes of the J-20 are equipped with active electronically scanned array radar. Three of the six J-20 prototypes were delivered for test flights in the year 2014.
Chengdu Aircraft Company has produced J-10 and JF-17 for overseas markets, but China has made a decision not to export the J-20 overseas. This news is likely to disappoint the manufacturer of the fighter aircraft. The J-20 is expected to be operational during 2017-2019. China wants to keep the J-20’s high-end military equipment all to itself. The ban on export of the Chengdu J-20 was revealed in an interview with the China’s Phoenix TV news program.
“The export of advanced Chinese military technology is prohibited,” Song said. “This is in order to keep J-20’s fifth-generation technology out of hostile hands.”
The J-20 prototypes are said to be very similar to the Lockheed Martin’s F-22. While in shape, weight and engine power the J-20 resembles the McDonnell Douglas’s F-15C which was designed during the Cold War Era. The J-20’s maximum weight is estimated to be 36 tons.
“If one day the United States decides to export the F-22, China might consider lifting its ban, as well,” he said.
The reason for the ban according to Song is that if American allies possess F-22s, China’s allies need the J-20s to balance it out.
The J-20’s disadvantage is that China is still not able to build a powerful engine for it. The power of the engine is the same as the F-15C. The engine approaches the thrust of the F-22 only when the afterburner is turned on, but the afterburner can be turned on only for a few minutes because of excess fuel consumption. The J-20 is able to super cruise without an afterburner just like the F-22, Eurofighter and the Gripen.
China has been trying to develop a more powerful WS-15 engine for almost two decades but the date has not been set as to when it’ll be fitted to the J-20 fighter.
On the other hand China plans to export the J-31 fighter to global customers who cannot afford the Lockheed Martin F-35. The J-31 was revealed at the Aviation Industry Corporation of China Exhibition hall on Nov 10 during a pre-show of that week’s airshow China in Zhuhai.
The aircraft is designated with “J” for fighters and “FC” for export. The J-31 was referred to as the FC-31, which meant the FC-31 was ready for export.