Is the Chengdu J-20 an F-22/YF-23/Mig-31 hybrid?

When I first saw the leaked images of the Chinese Chengdu J-20 a fifth generation stealth aircraft prototype developed by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) I could not notice a resemblance to at least three other type of aircraft: the F-22 Raptor, currently operating with the USAF; the Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23, a prototype fighter built in two examples that lost the contest to the Lockheed Martin F-22 for the USAF Advanced Tactical Fighter; and the the Mig-31 “Firefox”, a fictional aircraft appearing in “Firefox”, a 1982 action film produced and directed by, and starring, Clint Eastwood based on a 1977 novel written by Craig Thomas. Three aircraft: a contemporary one, a prototype and a fictional one, bringing us to some conclusions:

  1. The aircraft design is clearly inspired to the F-22
  2. The J-20 is sensibly larger than the F-22 and F-35
  3. The aft fuselage and nozzle geometry are not “stealth compliant” meaning that the authenticity of the photos is questionable (even though the aircraft could simply be a technology demonstrator or a very early prototype)

I’ll let you judge by yourself.

Actually, also the Russian Sukhoi T-50 (PA FAK) has many similarities with the J-20 as the following Sukhoi images show:

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Actually when I first saw it, I thought the aircraft it most resembled was the Mig 1.42/1.44 which itself resembles the Craig Thomas/Clint Eastwood “Firefox” (except without the mind control). If you will permit me to post links, just look at these (especially the concept art over at the Paralay website for what the ultimate design plans were for the Mig 1.42): (note this is in Russian, but Google Translate should help) (what Mig ultimately envisioned the finished 1.42 to look like) (this last one is a picture of the J-20 in flight showing the planform – which is very, very similar to the Mig 1.42)

    Personally I suspect that MiG just didn’t let their nice design go to waste and that a lot of their MiG 1.42/1.44 research ended up in China. I don’t see any real resemblance between the J-20 and either the T-50 or the F-22. The only similarity between the T-50 and J-20 seems to be overall size (both seem bigger than the F-22) and the T-50 more closely resembles the F-22 in general shape but it also reminds me slightly of the YF-23 (especially the intakes – but then it could be said that the YF-23’s intakes somewhat resembled some Sukhoi aircraft such as the Su-27).

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