A Chinese pilot who has recently piloted at least three distinct fighter aircraft disclosed that he is learning to fly a J-10 to fly a stealthy fifth-generation Chengdu J-20 Mighty Dragon. In a recent interview with state-run media, Chen Liu, who appears to be one of China’s greatest pilots based on his experience flying other aircraft, said that the J-20 can occasionally be challenging owing to its powerful weaponry, but that overall, he had few complaints about the Mighty Dragon. The J-20, considered Beijing’s best fighter, is China’s take on the F-35 or F-22.
An interview with Chen from CCTV published on YouTube a few months ago was translated by the EurAsian Times. In addition to dealing with weapons, he claimed that the J-20’s recent avionics make flying simpler than the J-10. The J-10 is a fourth-generation fighter developed by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in 1988. put it into use in 2004. The J-10 is regarded as the PLAAF’s “backbone.”
The J-20, according to Chen, can collect “a large amount of data, comparable to that of the F-35, which is processed before being communicated to the pilot.” He said that the single-seat layout of the J-10 helped him prepare for the single-seat layout of the J-20 because pilots of the newest warplanes are expected to quickly process all the information shown in the cockpit.
According to Chen, the J-20 is challenging to learn due to its complex weapon system, and they claimed that he “had no problems when he first began flying the J-20.” According to the National Interest, the J-20’s interior weapons bays are where the weaponry is located and are thought to hold “four to six long-range missiles or bombs.” The defense journal continues, “Observers usually assume the J-20 would act as a hit-and-run interceptor used to slip past fighter screens and take out weak supporting tanker and AWACS planes.”
It is encouraging for China if other PLAAF pilots are flying the J-20 with relative success. The number of J-20s in use around the nation could reach 150, and production lines are still active. The PLAAF may get one J-20 each month, which are fifth-generation fighters with capabilities comparable to the American F-35 and F-22. It is so because China probably copied U.S. design plans.
The J-20 has a range of 1,200 to 2,000 miles range, a ceiling of about 60,000 feet, and a top speed approaching Mach 2. (We note that range estimates vary based on sourcing.)
Interestingly, the PLAAF is willing to allow a pilot to be interviewed about the J-20 in a major media outlet, despite China’s habit of keeping such things quiet and showing that the PLAAF believes in the plan. It is happy to see the U.S. and its East Asian allies guessing about the J-20’s capabilities.
The U.S. military has to stop complaining about stolen designs. The work is finished. Now is the time for the military to prepare for scenarios in which the J-20 and an F-22 or F-35 engage in a dogfight during a future battle with China. There are more on the way, including The Mighty Dragon.
According to the PLAAF pilot’s interview, the J-20 is preparing pilots in a way that could help the program succeed.