Chinese J-20 may not be as ‘stealthy’ or equipped with radar-evading skills as once envisaged

J-20 Fighter Jet

The J-20, the frontline fighter aircraft of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), may not be as “stealthy” or simply, equipped with radar-evading skills as once envisaged, sources said. 

One handicap the J-20 faces is the engine, the Russian AL-31F, or the homemade Chinese WS-10. It has a low ‘thrust to weight’ ratio and during acceleration, will need to use afterburners, giving itself away. 

The afterburner also uses enormous amounts of fuel, reducing its range. China is trying to improve the performance of the J-20 by Developing serrated nozzles. This will reduce the plane’s tail signature. Or simply, ensure the radars see less of its tail. 

China is also working on single-crystal grain turbine blade technology to make the engines stronger and more heat-resistant. 

Other parts of the plane like it’s Satcom equipment, radome and anti-icing panels are also being made difficult to pick up. But at the moment, sources said, while the front part of the plane is stealthy, the same cannot be said about the rear section. 

The J-20 is the PLAAF’s challenge to the Rafale, being acquired by the Indian Air Force. Its stealth-related deficiencies will give Indian air defence systems a breather. 

Even without being fully stealthy, it remains a formidable aircraft, with a heavy payload and a sophisticated AESA-1475 radar and also, side-looking radars.

About J-20 Fighter Jet

The J-XX (Chengdu J-20) development program was started in the late 1990s. A proposal from Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, designated Project 718, won the PLAAF endorsement following a 2008 competition against a Shenyang proposal that was larger than the J-20.

In 2009, a senior PLAAF official revealed that the first flight was expected in 2010–11, with a service entry date by 2019. On 22 December 2010, the first J-20 prototype underwent high speed taxiing tests outside the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute. Three months later, the first J-20 prototype made its maiden flight in Chengdu.

Cockpit, helmet and displays

The aircraft features a glass cockpit, with one primary large color liquid crystal displays (LCD) touchscreen, three smaller auxiliary displays, and a wide-angle holographic head-up display (HUD). The size of the primary LCD screen is 24 x 9 inches (25.63 by the diagonal) with two systems for redundant illumination.


The J-20 entered production powered by a Saturn AL-31 variant, reportedly the AL-31FM2 with a "special power setting" thrust of 145 kN (32,600 lbf).

The Shenyang WS-10 has also powered various aircraft. The WS-10B reportedly powered low rate initial production aircraft. The WS-10 may have replaced the AL-31 in mid-2019.

Source- Timesnownews

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