Air International 2023-04
D.Axe - Out of the shadows
A PLAAF Y-20U aerial tanker refuels a J-20 and a J-16 multirole fighter simultaneously. New Y-20Us are slowly expanding the PLAAF’s modest tanker force
A PLAAF H-6K bomber during a training flight in preparation for the International Army Games in 2018. The H-6, a derivative of the 1950s-vintage, Soviet Tu-16, might struggle to survive in the air space east of Taiwan once the Taiwanese and Americans are shooting back
“It’s not anything to lose a lot of sleep over,” Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces, said of the J-20, “but they seem to be building a lot of them”
The J-20 first flew in 2011. The PLAAF declared the type operational in 2017. Five years later there could be more than a hundred J-20s in squadron service. That makes the J-20 the world’s third-most numerous low-observable fighter after the F-35 and F-22
An early version Chengdu J-20 wowed the partisan crowd at Zhuhai Airshow in November 2019. As the aircraft turned down the runway through the moist air, vapour trails formed over the wings
Two PLAAF J-20s perform at the PLAAF’s open day event in Changchun, Jilin, in northeast China in 2020
PLAAF J-20s perform aerobatics during an air show celebrating the 70th anniversary of the PLAAF’s founding, in Changchun, northeast China, in 2019