Latest mil­i­tary tech on dis­play at air show

Long-ru­mored J-20 stealth fighter and J-10B com­bat jet get pub­lic de­but at the China In­ter­na­tional Avi­a­tion and Aero­space Ex­hi­bi­tion

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHAO LEI in Zhuhai, Guang­dong zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Vis­i­tors to the 11th China In­ter­na­tional Avi­a­tion and Aero­space Ex­hi­bi­tion, which started on Tues­day in Zhuhai, have been treated to dis­plays from some of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Air Force’s best air­craft.

On Tues­day morn­ing, two J-20twin-en­gine stealth fighter jets per­formed aer­o­batic ma­neu­vers above the heads of tens of thou­sands of on­look­ers at the event, which is also known as the Zhuhai Air Show — the first time the pre­vi­ously clas­si­fied war­plane had ap­peared in front of the pub­lic.

The J-20 is be­lieved to be the third stealth fighter jet in the world to en­ter ser­vice fol­low­ing the United States’ F-22 Rap­tor and F-35 Light­ning II.

Its de­but flight was in Jan­uary 2011 and at least 10 pro­to­types are thought to have been pro­duced since then. How­ever, of­fi­cials from the govern­ment and the PLA had not dis­closed any in­for­ma­tion about the air­craft un­til now.

Over the past six years, it has not been un­com­mon for plane spot­ters to camp out­side Chi­nese mil­i­tary air bases for hours, hop­ing to get a pic­ture of the elu­sive air­craft.

Which is why en­thu­si­asts are call­ing the J-20 the big­gest star of this year’s show.

Se­nior Colonel Shen Jinke, spokesman for the PLA Air Force, said ear­lier that the J-20 will fur­ther im­prove China’s com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity and en­able the air force to bet­ter safe­guard the na­tion’s sovereignty, na­tional se­cu­rity and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity.

Wu Peixin, a mil­i­tary ob­server in Bei­jing spe­cial­iz­ing in avi­a­tion equip­ment, said the J-20 fea­tures a host of cutting-edge tech­nolo­gies, such as an elec­troop­ti­cal dis­trib­uted aper­ture sys­tem, which al­lows pi­lots to de­tect and track enemy air­craft and mis­siles in ev­ery di­rec­tion si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

In ad­di­tion to the stealth plane, the PLA Air Force also sent its J-10B fighter jet to the event. Like the J-20, this is the first time that the lightweight mul­ti­role fighter air­craft has been shown to the pub­lic.

The J-10B is an im­proved vari­ant of the J-10A, China’s first in­dige­nously de­vel­oped fourth-gen­er­a­tion jet fighter. Western mil­i­tary sources said its first flight took place in De­cem­ber 2008 and mass pro­duc­tion started in 2013.

Zhang Zhaozhong, a re­tired se­nior re­searcher with the PLA, said the J-10B fighter has “an in­crease of at least 30 per­cent in over­all ca­pa­bil­ity” com­pared with the J-10A. He added the war­plane is able to com­pete with any fourth-gen­er­a­tion fighter jet in Asia.

Other ex­hibits at the Zhuhai Air Show in­clude the PLA Air Force’s Y-20 strate­gic trans­port plane, KJ-500 early warn­ing and con­trol air­craft, H-6K long-range bomber and the CJ-20 land at­tack cruise mis­sile, as well as the Wing Loong I and II re­con­nais­sance/com­bat drones.

About 50 per­cent of the ex­hibits are on pub­lic dis­played for the first time, ac­cord­ing to Se­nior Colonel Shen.

Se­nior Colonel Wang Zhonghua, head of the Air Force’s equip­ment plan­ning bu­reau, said: “Th­ese ex­hibits rep­re­sent the air force’s achieve­ments in its mod­ern­iza­tion drive over the past few years. Next, we will make pub­lic more ad­vanced equip­ment.”

One project China is known to be work­ing on is a new-gen­er­a­tion strate­gic bomber, which will be un­veiled “some­time in the fu­ture”, Gen­er­alMa Xiao­tian, com­man­der of the PLA Air Force, said in Septem­ber.

of the PLA Air Force’s Bayi Aer­o­batic Team march in front of a J-10 jet fighter.

FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY

Two J-20 stealth fighter jets per­form aer­o­batic ma­neu­vers dur­ing the 11th China In­ter­na­tional Avi­a­tion and Aero­space Ex­hi­bi­tion held in Zhuhai, Guang­dong prov­ince.

LIANG XU / XIN­HUA

The PLA Air Force’s Y-20 strate­gic trans­port plane draws a crowd of on­look­ers.

FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY

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