Feb 26, 2014
Modified J-20 Chinese Fighter seen being prepared for maiden test flight
These taxi runs are presumably prior to its maiden flight and suggest it may be a pre-production variant slated for formal testing by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
Photographs of the prototype first appeared on Chinese military web sites in December 2013 and January, although some of these images appeared to have been digitally altered. The prototype carries the bort number '2011' and shows modifications intended to improve engine performance, combat capability and stealth.
Most noticeable are redesigned engine intakes featuring more of a sloped 'caret' design said to improve pressure distributions for the engine. The vertical stabilizers have been clipped in their outer aft corners and the main wheel doors and the internal weapons bay cover feature larger scalloping to aid low observability. The canopy also features a new brace.
A new electronic targeting system is located below the nose and just aft the radar. This and the J-20's distributed infrared sensor system points indicate Chengdu's ambitions to give the J-20 an optical and infrared targeting and warning system similar to that of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The new intake shape and electronic targeting system may also suggest multirole ambitions for the J-20, which has a larger internal weapons bay than the F-35.