Is China’s J-20 really as stealthy as advertised?

J-20 fighter aircraft
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China’s J-20 stealth aircraft was easily detected by Taiwan’s air defense forces in April 2020 while trying to get close to the island.

In April 2020, the press reported that China’s fifth-generation fighter J-20 was discovered near the island of Taiwan. China’s J-20 fighter is the latest innovation in the aircraft industry, a model touted as having the “best” stealth technology. Even according to Chinese media US developing sixth generation fighter aircraft because F-22 and F-35 can’t beat J-20 in combat.

But recent incident has shown the true capabilities of J-20, all these technologies do not meet the standards of fifth-generation aircraft. Taiwan’s air defense was able to easily detect and identify it as a Chinese fighter jet.

At that time, the US “Poseidon” intelligence plane was flying near Taiwan and it was clear that the US action had put the Chinese military on high alert, so China sent a J -20 to track US aircraft.

But this is not the first time Chinese planes have flown to and around the island of Taiwan. Previously, the Chinese Air Force sent Su-30 and J-10 to carry out reconnaissance operations and put some pressure on the island.

Taiwanese military experts later said that the stealth technology of the J-20 did not work well, the stealth ability of this aircraft is really lame, the problems in stealth are clearly noticeable. Italy, this type of aircraft is not a fifth generation standard.

Earlier, the Indian Air Force also said that they can easily detect J-20 with Su-30MKI N011M radar, even they do not need air defense radar. This contrasts with Chinese claims that their J-20 can surpass other aircraft such as Rafale, Su-35, MiG-35.

India and China are the two major military powers in Asia, both of which have procured and developed some of the best weapons platforms available today for their defense forces.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) deployed its newest fighter, the Chengdu J-20, in February 2018, claiming that the J-20 has stealth capabilities and is the most advanced combat aircraft in Asia.

However, the top fighter of the Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 MKI was able to easily “see” the Chengdu J-20 flying over Tibet, even though the aircraft used stealth technology. According to the Chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, the Su-30MKI’s radar detected and tracked the Chengdu J-20 jet as it flew over Tibet.

The Su-30MKI currently has a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar N011M, but the IAF is in the process of upgrading the fighter with a more advanced Zhuk active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which will cause more difficult for the J-20 to hide from the Indian fighters.

Chengdu J-20 is a single-seat, multi-role stealth fighter for air-to-air, air-to-ground roles with supersonic cruise speed and integrated avionics, tested for the first time on 11/1/2011.

The J-20, developed and manufactured by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG), has a length of 20.3-20.5 meters, a height of 4.45 meters, and a wingspan of 12.88-13.50. meters. Maximum take-off weight 34,000-37,000 kg. The J-20’s range is about 1,200 km, which can be increased to 2,700 km with an external fuel tank.

The J-20 is currently powered by Russia’s AL-31 engine, but China is actively working on a new and more powerful WS-15 afterburner jet engine for fighters to maintain super speed. The aircraft can fly at a maximum speed of 2,100 km/h (about 1.8 mach) and a climbing speed of 304 meters/second.

The J-20 has two side bays with four hard points for air-to-air missiles, while the fuselage has a larger compartment underneath to carry missiles and other weapons. In addition, the aircraft also has AESA radar along with infrared / electro-optical search and track sensors.

China also claims that the J-20 has a passive electro-optical detection system that gives the pilot a 360° field of view. The J-20 fighter has a glass cockpit with a bubble canopy that can access real-time data from China’s military satellites, Divine Eagle anti-stealth drones and other  airborne early warning and control systems.

The J-20 cockpit has two liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and one head-up display (HUD). The J-20 can be operated via a traditional throttle and lever system (HOTAS).

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