China's 5th generation stealth fighter performing combat maneuver tests over Chengdu

The following videos, once again purposely leaked to impress foreign observers, show China’s 5th generation stealth fighter J-20 at work during test flights at Chengdu. The second, taken on Feb. 26, 2012, at the end of the 70th public test flight, shows the future People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) radar evading plane performing some low level combat maneuvers.

Nothing special to be honest.  Indeed, what’s really amazing is not the turn rate nor maneuverability rather then the take off run of the J-20: extremely short for such a large plane, believed to be around 70 feet in length, with a wingspan of 42 feet (13 m) or more, and expected to have a takeoff weight of 75,000 to 80,000 pounds (34,000 to 36,000 kg) with internal stores only.

Feb. 4:

Feb. 26:

As already written several times, some western analyst believe the J-20 will be more capable than the F-22 and the F-35.

On the contrary, I’m among those who think that the real problem for the U.S. with the J-20 is not with the aircraft’s performances, top speed, equipment and capabilities (even if the US legacy fighters were designed 20 years earlier than current Chinese or Russian fighters of the same “class”); the problem is that China will probably build thousands of them.

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. Hi, David, I was just a toddler when the japanese sprung the Mitsubishi A6M2 “Zero on us. I was in Jr. High when the Mig-15 was introduced to the UN forces in Korea. In both cases, after the initial shock of our adversaries building fighters like these wore off, it was found that, while very capable, the Zero and the Mig-15 were oppenents that could be dealt with once their strengths and weaknesses were revealed.
    These videos had “propaganda piece” written all over them. Sadly, the only definitive answer will come if we meet them in combat for the aircraft are only part of the equation. Pilot training, maintainance, especially far from home, just old-fashioned who wants to win the most are all factors that must be considered.
    Fighter aircraft produced by the MIG design teams dominated the Soviet Air Force for years. They were more than decent aircraft but rarely have the products of one group of designers been so consistently waxed in combat. Obviously, other factors were in play.

  2. Looks like a pop-up APU exhaust at the back of the fuselage. Also a strange startup sequence with the appearance of an igniter quite close to the aft end of the #2 engine. Lots of FBW movement on all control surfaces with big angle deflections – curiious if they move that far in flight or only on a startup function test

  3. I wouldn’t say leaked. The fact of the matter is there has been so many videos and pics of the J20s numerous test flights that military watchers/geeks in China are losing interest already! If you want the most up to date high res images, just go to any of the main news aggregation sites like Sina military and go have your fill.

    • Sure,
      what I meant is that both images and footage, some of those taken from inside Chengdu, are published for the foreign media consumption. If the Chinese were not willing to let the image spread, they would prevent people from taking pictures or videos, they would not allow them to stay outside the fences..

  4. “the problem is that China will probably build thousands of them.”

    To quote the original “Red Dawn:”

    Jed: How’d you get shot down Colonel?”
    Colonel Tanner: “It was five to one. I got four.”

  5. “the problem is that China will probably build thousands of them.”
    China maybe only needs thousands of J-10s to combat F-22s as what the Germany Typhoons did in recent Red Flag simulated dogfights. This bird is way too expensive to do the small surgery to beat up the F-22s. It is likely that J-20 is designed to deliver surprise attacks to very valuable targets, such as a carrier.

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