Ladies And Gentlemen, Here’s The World’s First Two-Seat Stealth Fighter. And It’s Chinese.

A screenshot from the first video leaked online of the two-seater J-20. (Chinese Internet via @Rupprecht_A)

After a lot of rumours, the two-seater J-20 eventually broke cover.

Its official designation is not known yet. Someone called it the J-20S or the J-20B. Whatever, the world’s first ever two-seat stealth fighter jet is real and has made a pretty interesting appearance on Oct. 27, 2021.

Indeed, after a few grainy shots had started making the rounds in the last few days, the first clear images showing the new variant of China’s J-20 taxiing in primer paint at Chengdu Aerospace Corporation plant have appeared on Chinese internet today, immediately making their way to the various social media.

With all the previous 5th generation aircraft existing only in the single-seat version, the new two-seater J-20 variant is going to give China several interesting opportunities. The first and most obvious one is that they will have a dual seat version of their frontline fighter that can be used to train the pilots destined to the J-20 fleet. However, considered that the most modern aircraft are much easier to handle than the previous generations ones, the only benefits of a training variant would almost be negligible.

What’s far more important is that the additional crew member can perform tasks like operating some of the on-board sensors or managing a loyal wingman: the proliferation of displays and information coming from multiple sources clashes with the limited cognitive and processing capacity of a human being. Each sensor is as useful as the ability of the pilot to interpret and exploit the details it provides. In practice, no matter how many sensors the aircraft carry, the only effect a constant flow of data being shown on the displays in front of a pilot’s eyes would only be to saturate his or her attention making the large amount of information available simply unusable. With a second brain aboard, this problem is solved (obviously, within certain limits) and the aircraft can undertake additional tasks.

Moreover, in this case we are talking about a LO (Low Observable) aircraft with a potential boost in its capabilities to be exploited inside contested airspace. Not bad.


Anyway, besides the fact that it is the world’s first two-seater stealth fighter, we know nothing about the J-20 but we’ll keep a close eye on its development. So, stay tuned for more.

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.