Has China just rolled out third prototype of J-20 stealth fighter jet?

What could be the third prototype of the Chengdu J-20 fifth generation stealth fighter (to be coded “2003”?), was recently spotted at Chengdu airfield.

New images and videos from China show a mysterious roll-out of a seemingly new prototype (for sure it doesn’t appear to be coded as the existing ones – namely, “2001” and “2002”).

Still, someone believes the new aircraft is just the second test plane with a furtherly modified radome, used to fit an active electronically scanned array (AESA) set.

Indeed, the “Mighty Dragon” coded 2002 has not flown for a while: a possible sign that it was being modified.

Image credit: lt.cjdby.net

Another interesting feature of the “new” J-20 is a slit located just ahead of the canopy that could be used to fit a laser rangefinder or a Airborne Electro Optic (EO) Infra-Red Search and Track System (IRST) system for searching, detecting and tracking airborne and ground targets which give off infrared radiation.

For instance, Russian combat planes as the Su-27 or the Mig-29 are equipped with Optiko-Lokatsionnaya-Stantsiya (Optical Locator Station) OLS-27/29 opto-electronic sighting systems located more or less in the same place.

The second prototype of the Chengdu J-20 fifth generation stealth fighter, coded 2002, flew for the first time on May 16, 2012. The first prototype coded 2001, has been involved in the testing activities since Jan. 11, 2011.

Last month, pictures of a new type of Chinese stealth plane, the Shenyang J-31 “Falcon Eagle” (a sort of copy of the F-22 Raptor) leaked online.

About David Cenciotti 3842 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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 four books.