China’s Chengdu J-20 : An Inferior Copy of US Air Force F-35

China’s Chengdu J-20 : An Inferior Copy of US Air Force F-35

China is currently ramping up its defence force, the newest addition to The People’s Liberation Army Air Force fleet being the Chengdu J-20 ‘Mighty Dragon’ stealth fighter jet. The J-20 aims to outclass the Indian Air Force operated Dassault Rafale jets and the US Air Force Lockheed Martin F35s.

China’s Chengdu J-20 : An Inferior Copy of US Air Force F-35

Modified versions of the J-20 have formally entered into mass production, amid power competition and the commissioning of fifth-generation fighter aircraft (which includes Chinese J-20 and US F22, F35). There have been extensive changes in types of warfare systems, and the development of fifth-generation fighter jets. China stated that its next-generation fighter aircraft is expected to be in service by 2035.

China’s Chengdu J-20 : An Inferior Copy of US Air Force F-35

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force – Chengdu J20

In previous generation fighter aircraft, the deciding factor used to be manoeuvrability. Future generations require longer combat and endurance range, extensive stealth abilities, wider array and a larger load of weapons systems such as advanced beyond-visual-range (BVR) medium-range air-to-air missiles, and the technology to give the pilot a better understanding of the battlefield with imagery and artificial intelligence.

China’s Chengdu J-20 : An Inferior Copy of US Air Force F-35

Lockheed Martin F-35

Defence experts believe specifications of the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter jet are very similar to the Lockheed Martin F35 of the US Air Force in regards to the autonomous computer-controlled ability to gather, organize and present mined data and information to pilots.

An aircraft possessing an integrated system is capable of forming a network, extract real-time data from the environment, plan multiple attack manoeuvres, and transmit information across the mission spectrum all in real-time. The apparent similar design characteristics between the Chengdu J-20 “Mighty Dragon” and the US Air Force F-35 are speculated to be a result of espionage.

China’s Chengdu J-20 : An Inferior Copy of US Air Force F-35

F-35 in action

However, a superficial look at the Chengdu J-20 does not appear to show any outward resemblance to the F-35. The J-20 has a wider and longer lower-fuselage, to accommodate the wing spars and internally built exhaust section. The J-20 has canard wings (small forward wings to generate lift, replacing the horizontal stabilizer and designed to reduce overall drag) a feature the F-35 doesn’t have. Some speculators said there is more similarity between the F-35 and China’s J-31 multi-role fighter jet.

China’s Chengdu J-20 : An Inferior Copy of US Air Force F-35

Indian Air Force defence experts stated that the stealth characteristics of the Chengdu J-20 are extremely debatable. The J-20 was hyped up to be a stealth fighter jet, an aircraft that could avoid detection and conceal itself during operations. According to Indian Air Force Defence analysts, the Dassault Rafale is far superior to the Chengdu J-20 of China. At best, the J-20 is a 3rd or 4th generation aircraft, given that it still uses a 3rd generation turbofan afterburner power plant borrowed from the Sukhoi.

China’s Chengdu J-20 : An Inferior Copy of US Air Force F-35

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning

Designers of the J-20 from Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) stated that the J-20s distinct feature includes artificial intelligence to help pilots access, process and make decisions based on environmental information in a battlefield. Artificial intelligence is the key to help them become mission objective-oriented.

Artificial Intelligence has become the deciding factor. For the Chengdu j-20, each step in the observe-orient-decide-act (OODA) loop during air combat will feature artificial intelligence in the decision-making process.

China’s Chengdu J-20 : An Inferior Copy of US Air Force F-35

Chengdu J-20 Prototype

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