China expects fifth generation fighter in 10 years

Singapore
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China expects to unveil a fifth-generation fighter with stealth capabilities within the next 10 years, according to a senior air force official.

Chengdu Aircraft, the country's leading fighter manufacturer, is developing the fighter with Shenyang Aircraft, Ho Weirong, deputy commander of the Chinese air force said during a television interview with state-owned CCTV.

Research and development work on the fighter, which has not yet received a designation, is under way "intensely", says Ho. Flight trials are expected to last a few years, allowing the aircraft to enter service by 2020, he adds.

China reportedly has several indigenous aircraft programmes under way. These include plans for new fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, plus attack and utility helicopters, airborne early warning aircraft, trainers and transport aircraft. Various categories of unmanned air vehicles are also being developed.

Separately, state-owned manufacturer AVIC plans to unveil the prototype of an indigenous 220t-class heavy airlifter by the end of this year, according to some Chinese news reports. Subsidiary Xian Aircraft is responsible for the project, they quote AVIC president Hu Xiaofeng as saying.

The aircraft is reportedly based on Russia's Ilyushin Il-76MD, and borrows some concepts from other Western aircraft, such as Boeing's C-17. Powered by four turbofan engines, the aircraft will be 49m (160ft) long and have a 50m wingspan and maximum height of 15m.

Maximum speed will be 405-430kt (750-800km/h), range 4,400km (2,380nm) and service ceiling 46,600ft.