- Nov 4, 2011
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What We Know About The Chengdu J-20, China's Fastest Fighter JetBYPRANAV UNNIKRISHNAN
April 8 2023
The Chengdu J-20 is China's fastest fighter jet, but how does it compare to American military aircraft?
Countries and manufacturers are always locked in races to possess the best military vehicles on the planet. They spend large sums of money to make sure they have the most advanced machines at their disposal and are ahead of others around them. China is one of those nations, boasting some of the best military equipment available anywhere in the world.
The Chinese are the proud manufacturers and owners of the Chengdu J-20, which holds the distinction of being the fastest fighter jet the country has ever produced. The stealth air superiority fighter is a sophisticated piece of equipment that thrives in all weather conditions. Dubbed 'The Mighty Dragon', it entered service in 2017 and has been a great addition to the Chinese army's ranks.
The J-20 was developed over decades, making it one of the most storied fighter jets to have ever been produced. Take a look at some of the defining facts surrounding the machine.
The Chengdu J-20 is designed in purposeful and effective fashion, making it one of the most advanced jet aircraft ever built. It boasts a long and blended fuselage with double canards. Its twins fins sway and move outwards, backed by deep ventral strakes and standard engine exhausts.
The rather unconventional design setup means the J-20 operates with high instability. While this seems like something that shouldn't exist, it is done for a very specific reason. For maximum efficiency, the pilot is required to fly the jet at high angles. Due to the presence of the aforementioned canards, the jet experiences minimal stall, which wouldn't be the case if it was designed in conventional fashion. This also grants the machine some incredible performance at supersonic speeds and landing speeds.
What makes the J-20 one of the best fighter aircraft in its class is the fact that it has the go to match the show. Its arsenal contains long-range air-to-air missiles, precision-guided munitions and short-range air-to-air missiles. Due to its lack of a cannon, it does not excel at point-blank dogfights, but shines brightest in long-range battles with its array of missiles. It can snipe out enemy aircraft from a long way out and render them obsolete before they even get close.
Specifications Of The Chengdu J-20
The Chengdu J-20 is one of the best fighter aircraft on the planet. Its engineers have gifted it some world-class specifications that are positively in the stratosphere. When it comes to top speed, combat range, and climb rate, its numbers are simply mind-blogging. The J-20 in its J-20A trim is 21 meters long and 4.69 meters tall, with a wingspan of 13.01 meters. With the ideal amount of fuel loaded into it, it weighs a staggering 55,116 pounds. During takeoff, that number rises to 81,571 pounds, but that's still a phenomenal number that gives other fighter jets in its class a good run for their money.
The J-20A is powered by two Shenyang WS-10C turbofan engines that run on afterburners. It boasts a fuel capacity of 26,000 pounds, and aided by its two external fuel tanks can hit a maximum of 5,500 kilometers of range. When it comes to combat range, it is far from lacking, serving up 2,000 kilometers of it for the pilot. Needless to say, whoever is piloting the aircraft will be equipped to do so at the highest possible level, especially considering they can reach a supersonic top speed of Mach 2.0 and climb at a rate of 59,800 ft/minute.
Speaking of being equipped for missions, that holds true in the weapons department as well. The J-20A has a weapons limit of 24,000 pounds, which is more than enough to get the job done. In addition to having space for all kinds of ranged missiles, it can also house precision-guided bombs, drop tanks, and anti-radiation missiles. Detecting enemy aircraft or stranded friendly ones comes easy to this advanced machine, thanks to its Type 1475 (KLJ-5) AESA Radar, EOTS-86 electro-optical targeting system, and EORD-31 infrared search and track technology.
What Impact Has The Chengdu J-20 Had On The Military Industry?
When the Chengdu J-20 was announced and put to the test, the rest of the world sat up and took notice. The fighter aircraft showed that China could make powerhouse machines like it on their own without depending on the Russians. Thanks to its high-tech equipment and stealth-focused approach, it became a jet that other nations studied.
The J-20's induction into the Chinese army forced world military leaders to concede that it would make China one of the strongest Asian countries in terms of aircraft power, beating out the likes of Asian powers like Japan and India. The Mighty Dragon's versatility in terms of the missions it could be used for made it a concerning piece of equipment for China's military rivals. It beats out the USA's F-22 fighter jet in many aspects, which makes its impact on the aviation industry a pretty significant one.
This sentiment is echoed by American Intelligence Analyst, Robert Michael Gates, who warned that although he wasn't convinced of the J-20's stealth capabilities, it was a lethal combat aircraft that had the capacity to "put some of our capabilities at risk, and we have to pay attention to them, we have to respond appropriately with our own programs."
Due to the lack of transparency from the Chinese army and the country's government, the exact nature of the fighter jet's abilities are still a mystery. However, it is almost universally agreed that it is capable of accurately sniping out rival planes from long distances, while also having the ability to stand as a guard for air sectors, thereby preventing them from breaching the country's territory. It is also agreed that due to the J-20 being inspired by top fighter jets before it, it is an amalgamation of their best features and therefore a machine that has forced the industry in general to step up. Indeed, its unconventional stealth-optimized design had a major impact on stealth fighter aircraft, with many future machines emulating the same design in order to reap the benefits the Chinese super plane brought to the table.
As such, there is no denying that the J-20 is one of the most influential fighter jets of its generation. It is an industry-defining piece of technology and the jewel in the Chinese military crown.