Second Chengdu J-20 makes its debut

Photos of China’s second prototype Chengdu J-20 tactical aircraft have emerged on Chinese internet sites–including the government-backed Global Times.

4f71fec4-0eb4-4223-aaa7-45739b0a29a2.jpgThis second jet, apparently called aircraft 2002, appears to have a few a modifications to the original aircraft–called aircraft 2001. The most obvious one is that the air data probe appears to have been moved to the tip of the radome.  

Since everyone else is speculating on what this thing might be, I’m going to offer an observation.  This J-20 type has small wings relative to its size and probable weight. Even taking into account that its fuselage probably acts as a lifting body, it’s huge and likely has very high wing-loading. So one could argue it’s not a fighter per se–maybe a strike aircraft of some kind…

ImageHandlerCA78D83Y.jpgBut that being said, given that the center of pressure moves aft during supersonic flight, the placement of the canards affords the designers a long moment arm. That means more leverage for those control surfaces, which presumably helps the aircraft’s supersonic maneuverability.

More images here

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