J-20: China’s Stealth Fighter
The Chinese Chengdu
J-20 is a twin engine fighter with stealth features which enable it to sometimes go undetected by radar, an enormous advantage in air combat over conventional fighter jets which can be tracked on radar.
The supersonic J- 20 is thought to have gone into low-rate production this January after first being spotted at the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute in December 2010. The jet flew for the first time in January 2011. Since then, new variants of the jet have appeared with modified design-features to accommodate what is thought to be a larger engine.
India does not operate any stealth aircraft at present. The Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) being co-developed by Sukhoi is still several years from entering service with the Indian Air Force and the indigenous Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is still not off the drawing boards. their workhorse. However, the development of the Z-18A, a military derivative of the civilian AC 313 transport helicopter, which itself has been adapted from the French Super Frelon, is a move towards greater rotary wing capability for high altitude operations. The Z-18A is most likely powered by the Chinese WS-6 engine which is a derivative of Turbomeca Turmo 3C engine. With this powerful engine the Z-18 is reported to have flown to an altitude of 9,000m, i.e., above Mt Everest and set a world record. World records aside (no independent or scientific confirmation is available) the very fact that it has flown at least to 8,000m, as reported by Jane’s Weekly, showcases its high altitude capability.
The implications are many; the important one being that in the coming years China would have the capability to rapidly move troops and heavy equipment ( including artillery guns) into and within Tibet. What it will also get, as a corollary, is the capability to heli-lift troops behind Indian front line forces in the mountainous border areas in Ladakh and in Arunachal Pradesh in a flanking manoeuvre, in case of war. Chinese press reports have highlighted the attributes of the American M777 155mm howitzer that India is procuring and the fact that India would heli-lift it to its border areas using the Mi-26 helicopter (the Chinook being procured can also do the task). The high altitude capable Z-18 would also be able to lift the Chinese made AH 64 155mm artillery gun, bringing to the PLAAF the capability of heli-lifting troops and equipment in the Tibetan plateau.
Chinese Military Transport Aircraft Xian Y-20