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
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.
Two J-20 stealth fighter jets perform aerobatic maneuvers during the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition held in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.
The PLA Air Force’s Y-20 strategic transport plane draws a crowd of onlookers.