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China's New Stealth Jet

China's new Chengdu J-20 aircraft made its first flight on January 11, 2011. It's a fifth generation stealth fighter similar to the US F-22 and F-35 and Russia's T-50. According to a high-ranking official in the People's Liberation Army Air Force, it is expected this jet will become operational in 2017-2019.

The J-20 is a single-seater aircraft powered by two engines. Design features include low jet intakes, a delta wing, forward canard wings, a bubble canopy, a forward chine, and all-moving fins.

Like the F-22 and T-50, the J-20 can supercruise.

Through preliminary photos, it can be seen that the J-20 is certainly larger in size than both the F-22 and the T-50. This means that the J-20 is probably going to be less maneuverable but it will be able to carry more weapons and fuel. Also, according to an Australian defense analyst, Carlo Kopp that the J-20's stealth shape is "without doubt considerably better" than both those two planes.

It is disappointing to note that some people speculate that the Chinese used technology from the downed F-117 of the Kosovo War to develop the J-20. However, according to Xu YongLing, a Chinese test pilot, the aircraft is a "masterpiece" of homegrown innovation and that the F-117 was already "outdated" at the time it was shot down and would not be practical to apply this technology to a next-generation aircraft.

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