China set to unveil its J-20 stealth fighter

The PLA daily, the People's Liberation Army's official newspaper, shared this image of the J-20 jet on Weibo recently.
The PLA daily, the People's Liberation Army's official newspaper, shared this image of the J-20 jet on Weibo recently.PHOTO: WEIBO ACCOUNT OF PLA

China hopes the rival to Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor will close military gap with US

BEIJING • China will unveil its new generation J-20 stealth fighter jet at an air show next week, the air force said yesterday, the first public showing of a warplane that China hopes will narrow the military gap with the United States.

The ability to project air power is key for China as it takes on a more assertive stance on territorial disputes with neighbours in the East China and South China seas.

On Thursday, the defence ministry announced that China has completed assembling the hull of its first domestically built aircraft carrier. Design work on the vessel has been completed, said the ministry's spokesman, Colonel Wu Qian, adding that workers are currently installing equipment on the ship's body.

The J-20 will give a flight demonstration at next week's China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in the southern city of Zhuhai, the People's Liberation Army Air Force said in a statement on its official microblog.

Air force spokesman Shen Jinke said the J-20's production was proceeding according to plan and it would assist in the air force's mission to "safeguard sovereignty and national security". "This is the first public appearance of China's indigenously manufactured new-generation stealth fighter jet," the air force said.

In June, it said the jet would enter service "in the near future".

The new Y-20 military transport aircraft will also give a flight demonstration at the seven-day air show, which is held every two years and opens on Tuesday.

The Pentagon has said the fifth- generation stealth aircraft China is developing, the J-20 and the J-31, are necessary for China's air force to evolve from a mostly territorial force to one that can carry out both offensive and defensive operations.

China showed off the J-31 at the last Zhuhai air show in 2014, a show of muscle that coincided with a visit by US President Barack Obama for an Asia-Pacific summit.

China hopes the J-31, which is still in development, will compete with the US-made F-35 stealth aircraft in the international market, according to China military watchers and state media reports.

Some analysts have said photographs of the J-20 suggest China may be making faster-than-expected progress in developing a rival to Lockheed Martin's radar-evading F-22 Raptor.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2016, with the headline 'China set to unveil its J-20 stealth fighter'. Print Edition | Subscribe