China showed off their new top-of-the-line fighter jets for the first time to the public on Tuesday as two J-20 stealth fighters performed a fly-by at the Zhuhai air show in Guangdong province – the country’s biggest meeting of plane makers and buyers.
The aircraft, which is being called Beijing’s answer to the US F-22 stealth fighter and the F-35 that will be soon deployed in the Pacific by the United States and Japan, wowed the crowds at the air show.
The J-20, a long-range, radar-avoiding stealth combat aircraft, first flew in 2011, but had yet to be seen by the public until Tuesday. Two of the jets passed over the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai.
The fighters are seen as a symbol for China’s desire to upgrade its military capabilities. President Xi Jinping wants to toughen China’s armed forces as it takes a more aggressive stance in the region, especially the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
The exhibition is often used to show off the country’s newest military hardware. This year, seaplanes, attack helicopters and other military hardware is being shows off.
The Y-20, China’s first heavy transporter jet has already been unveiled at the Zhuhai air show.
The AG-600 seaplane, a Xian H-6K bomber and the new Changhe Z-10K attack helicopter are expected to make appearances at the air show.
The J-20 was developed and and made by the Chengdu Aircraft Industries Group, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation of China.
Little is known about the development of the J-20 aircraft since it has yet to be inspected by the public.
One U.S. Air Force General was not impressed by the J-20.
“When i hear about F-35 vs. J-20, it’s almost an irrelevant comparison,” U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in August, according to a report from BreakingDefense.com.
Goldfein made the comparison of the J-20 to a F-117A fighter, which the US Air Force first flew in the 1980s and is now no longer in use.
Ian Williams, a defence expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told the Financial Times that the J-20 resembled Soviet aircraft from the 1980’s, in particular, the MiG 1.42.