Following the J-20′s dramatic appearance a few weeks ago more images and movies have emerged on China’s Internet. A new video shows the aircraft apparently being towed. Security seems incredibly lax in this one as the avgeeks make little effort to hide their faces. It looks like they’ve found a great spot for a bit of afternoon beer drinking and plane spotting.
Then there is another interesting photo showing remarkable asymmetry between J-20′s thrust nozzles. This photo also highlights again how big this aircraft is. Without a doubt the J-20 will be among the year’s top ten aviation stories, and probably has a good shot at the number one spot.
Most journalists seem to agree that it is indeed a stealth aircraft. An ‘F-35 killer’ as one writer put it. Worried American writers have called for renewed production of the F-22 Raptor. Though the J-20 has obvious similarities to advanced types such as the F-22 itself, PAK FA, and the long gone YF-23 (which I always thought looked cooler than the F-22), the J-20 has a number of stealth foopahs: huge canards, cavernous intakes, and monster thrust nozzles.Why, then, is everyone insisting it is so stealthy?
At the risk of being facetious, I would suggest that the J-20′s matt-black paint scheme has gone a long, long way to heightening perceptions of this aircraft as stealthy. After all, are not such stealth icons at the F-117 and B-2 a menacing matt black color? Don’t ninjas wear black?
All this is not to denigrate China’s aviation prowess. No doubt the country is making great strides, and is intent on building a world class aviation heritage. Eventually China will have a stealth aircraft.That said, stealth aircraft are ferociously complex: the Americans only achieved it after nearly a century of producing aircraft, including rare icons like the SR-71, Space Shuttle, B-2, F-16, and (farther back) the P-51D Mustang.
In other words, the J-20 may well be fascinating, but more interesting to me is America’s eventual successor to the F-22. If nothing else the J-20 and it’s black paint scheme will ensure that the money is going to be there to create it.
Back in Black: more cool J-20 images
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