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.