Four twin-seat J-20 Chengdu variations were seen flying in formation in a video released by Aviation Industry Corporation of China. Domestic engines are now going to power China’s twin-seat J-20 fighter jets. It looks like China’s J-20 stealth fighter is going for it on its own.
Normally equipped with imported Russian jet engines, which are known for their high trust reliability but shorter service lives, official videos released by its developer and the People’s Liberation Army (PLAAF) Air Force show a two-seat J-20 equipped with a domestically made engine.
Depicted by computer-generated imagery, four twin-seat J-20 variations were seen flying in formation in a video released by state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), the developer of the aircraft in celebration of the 10th anniversary on Monday of the original aircraft’s maiden flight.
This is the first time the twin-seat J-20 has been featured in an official promotional source, although media reports had speculated about its existence for years. It will also make the J-20 variation the world’s first twin-seat stealth fighter jet.
By adding another seat to the cockpit, the aircraft could, in exchange for some level of stealth capability and maneuverability, carry a second pilot designated for more complicated tasks such as electronic warfare, command of wing man drones or tactical bombing.
According to National Interest, the PLAAF was the first foreign customer to import the Su-35, one of Russia’s most advanced air superiority fighters, in a 2015 contract for the procurement of twenty-four units.
But it is reportedly no longer interested in acquiring additional Su-35’s, with sources alleging that China’s domestic aircraft industry has attained similar, if not superior, capabilities with the J-16 strike fighter.
In a separate video, released by the PLAAF for its pilot recruitment program, Chinese media outlets identified a J-20 that is equipped with domestically developed WS-10C engines (a modified version of its domestically-built WS-10 engine) instead of imported Russian AL-31F engines.
The AL-31F engine comes in slightly different forms, with the differences being mainly in thrust and thrust vectoring. Variants with 3-D thrust vectoring enable the aircraft to perform impressive maneuvers as demonstrated at many air shows.
This super-maneuverability allows the fighter to perform exceptionally well in close combat situations. Despite the benefits such an aircraft possesses, the race for generation 5 fighters puts the type and its engine at a disadvantage.
Designed with stealth capability, the WS-10C engines reportedly provide more powerful thrust than the Russian engines previously used on the J-20, since the Chinese engines use full authority digital engine control technology and improved afterburners.
Weapons integration, sensor range, Electronic Warfare and targeting are perhaps the most defining attributes likely to help distinguish which aircraft, the J-20 or F-22, would prevail in an air-to-air engagement or out-perform the other in combat.
An ability to see, attack, out-maneuver, and destroy an enemy aircraft at further ranges and with more targeting precision and sensor fidelity would likely prove to perhaps be the most decisive factor in any combat engagement.
Asia Times / ABC Flash Point Aviation Technology News 2021.