Is China’s J-20 fighter an opponent to the F-35 produced in the US?

As the world’s third fifth-generation fighter to enter service, the J-20 Mighty Dragon is the best stealth fighter of the Chinese Air Force (PLAAF).

Even though most of its capabilities are “inspired” by the adversary, this fighter, which is regarded as a counterweight to the F-35, is nonetheless a highly powerful fighter.

Beijing sent out a J-20 squadron in April of this year to patrol the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. Of course, the fighter that represents the strength of the Chinese air force also made an appearance during the recent large-scale training exercises.

The F-35 was hailed by its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, as “the world’s most advanced stealth fighter” when it first saw service with the US military in 2015. The J-20, which is reported to have characteristics similar to those of the F-35 itself, was offered as China’s first response, making the fighter on the mainland a serious adversary.

The Chengdu Aviation Company created the first J-20 variant in 1990 as part of a plan to enhance the Chinese Air Force’s combat abilities. Russian-made components and technologies were principally used in the construction of the early prototypes of the Mighty Dragon, but these were gradually phased out. A J-20 prototype of Project 718 was chosen in 2008 for further development. After undergoing significant changes in 2014, the J-20 is expected to be prepared for mass production in that year.

The Chinese Air Force’s J-20 variant is 20.3 metres long and has a 12.9-meter wingspan. Manh Long weighs roughly 19,000 kg, with a 36,000 kg maximum takeoff weight. The J-20 now uses domestically made WS-10C twin engines, which enable it to travel at a top speed of Mach 2, have a ceiling of 20 kilometres, and have a battle radius of roughly 1,100 kilometres. In actuality, the engine is still the J-20’s major flaw, as the WS-10C is unable to fully use Manh Long. Because of an ongoing overheating issue, the new generation WS-15 engine won’t be ready for mass production for at least a few years. The J-20 also lacks the F-35’s ability to perform STOVL, which allows for short takeoff and vertical landing on any type of aircraft carrier.

The J-20 has an electro-optical-guided reconnaissance complex (EOTS), which eliminates the requirement for radar for target recognition and smart weapon guidance. This technology was first used on the F-35, but whether it was “inspired” or “copied,” it gave the J-20 a genuinely terrifying fighter capability. Manh Long has a maximum of six air-to-air missiles and six precision-guided bomb weapons that it can use for attack. Because the J-20’s weapons bay is larger than that of the F-22 or F-35, it can carry missiles with a wider range or simply more bombs than US aircraft. In comparison to the F-35, this is likewise seen as the biggest benefit.

The stealth component, which is of greatest significance when contrasting the J-20 with the F-35, appears to be working against the fighter from the mainland. Compared to the F-35, the J-20 has a substantially greater radar reflectance cross section. Additionally, the J-20’s ability to avoid radar will be hampered by the engine’s poor shielding and the absence of contemporary sensor systems.

“The J-20 is an aircraft for air superiority, but it is still too early to say what they have in mind. Although I wouldn’t call it a clash, there was one. In the South China Sea, several J-20s fly pretty close to our F-35s; this squad’s ability to command and keep formation is quite amazing “said Thai Binh Air Force Commander General Kenneth Wilsbach. American Duong discussed the March 2022 F-35 versus J-20 encounter.

Even without taking into account special characteristics, the US Air Force continues to dominate the air in the Asia-Pacific region despite China’s current possession of 50–60 J-20s. The Pentagon has sent almost 200 F-35 fighters to this region, and that is the clear explanation.

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