China's Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter is believed to have made its second test flight, with new images showing the aircraft being prepared for the sortie on 17 April.
Performed from Chengdu airfield in Sichuan province just over three months after the J-20's surprise flight debut on 11 January, the latest milestone will bring fresh attention on Beijing's drive to field a fifth-generation counterpart to designs including the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.
In these images, aircraft 2001 is shown undergoing pre-flight checks involving a team of engineers from state-owned AVIC.
Both images © Sipa Press/Rex Features
The J-20's emergence has prompted several other nations to step up their air force modernisation activities. Japan earlier this month issued a request for proposals in a contest to replace its oldest McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms, despite having to recover from the effects of a devastating earthquake and tsunami. Candidates for its F-X fighter requirement include the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon and the Lockheed F-35.
Taiwan also has stepped up its efforts to get the US government to approve its long-stalled request for an additional batch of 66 Lockheed F-16C/D fighters.