China’s social media are rife with rumors on the country’s military developments, but when in June a video showed up with what seemed pictures of its new fighter, the world took it very serious, writes military analyst Wendell Minnick in Defense News.
In late June, several videos appeared on the Internet showing a fighter fuselage, wrapped in a tarp, being transported along a highway from Shenyang Aircraft Corp. (SAC) to the Chinese Flight Test Establishment, an air force test center at Xian-Yanliang Airbase, Shaanxi Province.
The configuration matches descriptions of China’s second stealth fighter, the J-21 Snowy Owl, including that of a model displayed by university students connected to SAC at the International UAV Innovation Grand Prix held in Beijing in September 2011.
The model was a twin-engine stealthy fighter with internal carriage and configured for an active electronically scanned array radar, said Richard Fisher, author of the book “China’s Military Modernization” and a fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Alexandria, Va.
China unveiled its first stealth fighter, the twin-engine J-20 Black Eagle, built by the Chengdu Aircraft Co. (CAC), in January 2011. CAC and SAC were in competition for a requirement for a fifth-generation fighter for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and PLA Navy (PLAN).
With the unveiling of the J-20, it was assumed CAC had won the competition.
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