Third Prototype of China’s Stealth Jet Makes Maiden Flight and Shows Improvements

Composite image created with images from Xinhua News Agency, Chinese Internet (

Chengdu J-20 Stealth Fighter Jet “2011” has eventually made its maiden flight. A composite image shows how different third prototype is from the the first one.

The third prototype of China’s 5th generation fighter jet made its maiden flight on Mar. 1.

As already explained, Beijing’s radar-evading plane shows several differences from the first (and second) prototype aircraft, a sign China is improving and developing more in the field of low observability applied to fighter jets.

These are, an overall light grey color scheme similar to that of U.S. stealth planes (most probably a radar-absorbing coating); new air intakes; completely redesigned nose section and radome (once again showing resemblance with F-22/F-35); dielectric panels in the front fuselage below the completely redesigned canopy; EOTS (Electro-Optical Targeting System); differently shaped gear bays and slightly different tail fins tips.

Use the top image to check on the one below (click for a higher resolution image) some of the differences between J-20 “2001” (first prototype) and J-20 “2011”.

J-20 2001-11 composite

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. Libs…Cut the US military!!! We don’t need no stinking new fangled super expensive stealth fighters!! We have 42 year old F-15s!! We can use the $$$$ to build nation wide (all “57” Obama states) 20th century “high” speed rail!!! Maybe even build it to Asia & Europe! Or put even more folks on food stamps!!!

        • Every single point, save for the age of the fighters. Take your rage back to WND. We don’t need it here.

          • So the libs aren’t cutting US Mil? Libs don’t want to cancel the F-35? Libs don’t want to depend on the aged F-15/16 putting our US pilots lives at risk? And libs don’t want to build 20th century so called “high” speed rail? I’m sure you, Putin, Xi Jinping & dear little new leader are very happy. The truth shall set you free….Or the USA.

    • Let’s keep the foolish political invective out if this, shall we? Completely and totally unnecessary.

  2. Judging by its size that thing is going to have the T/W ratio of a jumbo jet

    • Surely not ! ;-)
      To admit I don’t understand why that fighter is still seen as sooo large and therefore heavy and even more as useless as a fighter. We have several images showing it side by side – esp. the quite will known images from GE – to a J-11 and J-15 and the J-20 is considerably shorter. It is – to admit – surely underpowered with its current interim engines.

  3. The tip of the fin shows possibility of intent to operate in naval environment too. The Canopy frame is not helping stealth at all. The MLG (main landing gears) look like MiG-23 fathered design. Many essential details are not visible (i.e.: materials, antennae, sensor groups, etc.)
    The shear size suggests long range (likely naval) role too. Overall rating: mixed kid with many daddies…

  4. photo shopped…Agreed. It’s a FAKE!! You can even see the sticks holding up the little model in the top pix!! LOL!

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