Feb 20, 2014
Upgraded version of China's J-20 Stealth jet 'set for maiden flight'
A number of photos recently taken by aviation enthusiasts at an unidentified base, and widely circulated on websites that follow the Chinese military, show a prototype of the twin-engine, fifth-generation aircraft with the serial code "2011" painted on both sides of the cockpit. The first test flight of the prototype aircraft is imminent and is expected to take place in Chengdu, where, Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, is headquartered.
The newest J-20 is the stealth fighter's third prototype since the aircraft's debut three years ago.
In January 2011, the J-20's first prototype made its maiden flight at an unidentified airfield in Chengdu. The 15- minute flight made China the third nation in the world to "develop and test-fly a full-size stealth combat aircraft prototype", after the United States and Russia.
China launched its stealth fighter programs in the late 1990s. It is also developing a single-engine, radar-evading fifth-generation jet fighter called the J-31. That aircraft has undergone several test flights.
China reportedly conducted test flights of a second J-20 prototype in Chengdu in May 2012.
A series of improvements have been made to the stealth fighter. It reportedly has a new air intake design, shorter engine nozzles and a sensor technology that helps pilots detect and track enemy aircraft or missiles in every direction simultaneously.