Aviation buffs are buzzing over blurry photographs that have been surfacing on Chinese military websites showing Beijing’s first stealth fighter jet, the Chengdu J-20 fighter. Chinese aviation fans say they have been snapping pics of the jet during recent taxi tests, with a first flight likely still weeks away.We have also managed to get the first video of this stealthy aircraft the ‘J-20’.

It remains to be seen if the US and other nations will view it as a threat. Although there are indications it hasn’t flown yet, the J-20 is already being compared to the F-22 and other stealth aircraft like F-35 and Sukhoi PAK FA T-50.

The J-20 prototype was photographed when it was preparing for high-speed taxing trial at the CAC airfield on December 22, 2010. The prototype features a pair of all-moving tail-fins and ventral stabilizing fins. It also features F-22 style air intakes but with DSI bumps installed at the upper corners, as well as a one-piece canopy.

First disclosed by US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) in 1997 as XXJ, J-20 is the 4th generation multi-role fighter supposed to enter service around 2015. Since 90’s both CAC/611 Institute and SAC/601 Institute had been working their own designs for a twin-engine multi-role heavy fighter with stealth capability and maneuverability comparable to American F-22 RAPTOR.

J-20 also incorporates an advanced FBW(fly by wire) system fully integrated with the fire-control and the engine systems. Its fire-control radar is expected to be AESA (Type 1475/KLJ5). The aircraft may feature a “pure” glass cockpit (a single F-35 style color LCD display and a wide-angle holographic HUD).

Russian assistance has been speculated in terms of software support for calculating the RCS of various designs, as well as the rumored supply of Salyut 99M2 turbofan engine (14,000kg class) to power the prototypes, if the domestic engine (such as improved WS-10A) fails to meet the schedule.

The overall performance of J-20 is thought to be superior to Russian T-50 (stealth) but still inferior to American F-22 (electronics & super-cruise).

The design looks like it incorporates styling cues from the F-22 /F-23 and the Russian Mig 1.42 project. The aircraft looks much bigger than the F-22 Raptor – but that might not be a good thing when it comes to being stealthy.

The impression in the recent pictures and video is that of a big, long aircraft, 70+ feet from nose to tail, which would make sense for a number of reasons. Rob Hewson at Jane’s has reported that Russia has supplied 32,000-pound thrust 117S engines for the J-20, which would be adequate for an aircraft in the 80,000 pound class – with perhaps lower supercruise performance and agility than an F-22, but with larger weapon bays and more fuel.

Although Chinese and anti-U.S.commentators are already calling the J-20 the “Raptor Killer” – that’s like naming a newborn as the next heavyweight champ before he can even walk, the F-22 is much more than a stealthy fighter aircraft and incorporates an advanced tracking,targeting and communication system that is at the present unrivaled and is still evolving. It may be years before the J-20 becomes operational and only time will decide as to which aircraft is better.

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