Tag Archives: Chengdu J-20

Upgraded, third prototype of China’s stealth jet ready for maiden flight

J-20 Mighty Dragon “2011” has already completed hi-speed taxi tests.

In the last few days, the extremely active Chinese aircraft enthusiasts have documented the ground activity of the third prototype of the J-20 “Mighty Dragon” stealth fighter jet.

The new pictures show the J-20 coded “2011” performing taxi tests at Chengdu airfield. Following a high-speed taxi, the aircraft raised the nose and then deployed the drag chute to reduce speed: the usual steps that precede the first take off.

What is really interesting about the new plane is that it seems to embed a series of improvements. According to several reports it has a new air intake design, shorter engine nozzles and a (basic?) sensor fusion technology.

J-20 third prototype

For sure the J-20 has something worth a mention: a revised nose section, much similar to that of the much criticised F-35, with an IRST/EOTS (Infra Red Search and Track / Electro Optical Tracking System) – used to hunt low observable aircraft, and a metal finish that loosely reminds the radar absorbing Haze Paint first used on F-16s.

Image credit: Chinese Internet, cjdby.net, fyjs.cn


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China’s new stealth fighter’s missile launch rails prove Beijing can improve U.S. technology

In order to preserve their stealthiness and keep the RCS (Radar Cross Section) as low as possible, radar-evading planes rely on weapons bay: bombs and missiles to be fired are kept inside the bays until it’s time to use them.

For instance, the F-35 can carry one AIM-120D (AIM-120C8), on a trapeze : when needed, the BVR (Beyond Visual Range) missile is lowered into the airstream on the open bomb bay door, and ejected.

F-22 Raptors use canted trapeze to put the AIM-9 Sidewinder seeker into the airstream to achieve a lock on the target as the side bay doors are open.


Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Once the missile is fired, the bay doors close up.

Obviously, such method requires the stealth plane to fly with the open bay doors for a certain amount of time, a condition that can limit the aircraft performance, maneuverability, and increases the overall plane’s RCS, with a temporary exposure of the aircraft to the enemy radars.

Something that can be quite lethal in a Within Visual Range scenario.

The problem is to be partly solved with the use of missiles featuring the Lock On After Launch capability. With this kind of missile (available on the Raptor when the AIM-9M will be replaced by the AIM-9X Block II) the bay doors remain open just the time it is needed to eject the missile into the airstream.

However, China might have found a clever solution to the problem, as the latest images of the J-20 Mighty Dragon stealth fighter jet, emerging from the Chinese Internet, seem to suggest.

J-20 2002 side bay maybe - out mod 2

Indeed, the second prototype of the aircraft features a missile deployment device on the side weapons bay which extracts the selected air-to-air missile and then closes the door to keep the reduced RCS.

J-20 missile deployment device

Simpler and probably cheaper than the use of LOAL missiles, the J-20’s deployment device shows that Chinese engineers are not simply copying U.S. tech: if not improving it, they are at least troubleshooting some of the issues already faced by their American counterparts, with some clever ideas.

Missile launch rail

Graphs from Chinese forums

The missile launch rail was used to carry the PL-10 IR air-to-air missile during tests.

Anyway, it’s worth noticing that along with AIM-9X missiles, the F-22 pilots will receive Scorpion HMCS (Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems) that will be particularly useful in case of dogfight. There are no information about similar helmets being fielded to Chinese fighter planes.

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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.

Video: First flight of China's second J-20 Mighty Dragon prototype

After the images appeared on the Chinese Internet few hours after the aircraft had landed, a video showing the China’s second J-20 stealth fighter prototype performing its first flight at Chengdu on May 16, 2012 has just been uploaded to Youtube.

Soundtrack aside, the video is enjoyable as it gives the opportunity to see the fifth generation plane during the taxi, (quite short) take off roll and landing phases of its maiden flight.

Photo evidence: Maiden flight for the second China’s J-20 stealth fighter prototype

After a series of high-speed taxi tests with the nosewheel off the ground and subsequent use of the drag chute, here are the first images published on the Chinese forums showing the second J-20 stealth fighter prototype performing its first flight at Chengdu.

Image credit: http://club.mil.news.sina.com.cn/