The J-20, China’s first fifth-generation stealth fighter, will begin its service with the PLA Air Force in 2017, reports Kanwa Defense Review, a Canada-based Chinese-language military magazine.
The article said that it will take another two years for the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, the J-20’s manufacturer, to complete development for the aircraft. Many tests and trials have yet to take place during this period. China began the project of developing its own active electronically scanned array back in 2004. It was tested aboard a Tu-204 passenger aircraft for three years and later fitted into the J-20.
Beijing has produced a total of four prototypes of the J-20, with 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015 as their serial numbers. Several modifications could been seen on the last three aircraft. However, the shape of the fuselage has remained the same, the article said. The development of the J-20 has gone much faster than Russia’s T-50 fighter. Russia did not put its first fifth-generation stealth fighter into test flights until March 2014.
The J-20’s capability to fire a missile similar to the Russian-built R-77 is most likely to be tested within the next two years, the website said. Because the cost will be very expensive, the craft is not going to be produced en masse like the J-10. The first J-20 unit is expected to be established at Cangzhou training base. Russia will begin the production of the T-50 in very limited numbers next year, according to the article.