Two of China’s brand new, top-of-the-line stealth fighter jets streaked and screamed across an air exhibition on Tuesday as Beijing showed its newest military hardware to the public for the first time.
The J-20 fighter is called Beijing’s answer to the US F-22 stealth fighter and the F-35 that will be soon deployed in the Pacific by the United States and Japan.
The J-20, a long-range, radar-avoiding stealth combat aircraft, first flew in 2011 but had not been shown to the public until Tuesday.
Two of the twin-engine jets made passes over the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Hong Kong.
China often uses the biennial exhibition to show off its newest military hardware. In 2014, it showed off its J-31 fighter at the exhibition, also known as Airshow China.
The J-20 is bigger than the J-31 but both are considered big steps in making China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force a Pacific power.
“The J -20 aircraft is China’s own new generation stealth fighter, developed to meet the needs of the future battleground,” Chinese air force spokesman Sr. Col. Shen Jinke said last week.
“Research and development are progressing as planned, Shen said.
“The aircraft will further enhance the overall combat capability of the Air Force, which would help the army’s sacred mission of maintaining the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.”
US general says F-35 has advantage
At least one US Air Force general has been unimpressed with reports on the J-20.
“When i hear about F-35 vs. J-20, it’s almost an irrelevant comparison,” US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in August, according to a report from BreakingDefense.com.
The US general said the US F-35 integrates with other US weapons and systems to give it the technological advantage, the BreakingDefense report said.
Goldfein said the J-20 employed technology more like the F-117A fighter, which the US Air Force first flew in the 1980s and which is no longer in active use by the US.
US Marine Corps F-35s will deploy to a US base in Iwakuni, Japan, across the East China Sea from China’s western coast, early next year, the Marines announced last month.
And the first Japan Self Defense Force F-35 rolled off an assembly line in Texas in September.