China entering mass production of J-20, ripped off version of F-35

The Chengdu J-20 is a stealth, twin-engine, fifth-generation fighter aircraft prototype being developed by China's Chengdu Aerospace Corporation for the Air Force (PLAAF).

A recent report that was posted online by a Chinese news agency suggests that China’s fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, also known as the J-20, has reached the mass production stage.

According to The Diplomat, the Chinese news agency posted a photograph of a J-20 on the tarmac, coated with yellow primer paint and bearing the serial number “2101.”

While China’s military enthusiasts believe the picture of the J-20 means the fighter jet is ready for mass production, the Chinese news agency cautions that the initial production of the jet may be limited at first.

Some unnamed military experts also cautioned that the software used in the J-20 still needs additional testing even though the body of the fighter jet has been finalized.

Critics believe China was able to progress with the design of the J-20 very quickly because China based the J-20 on stolen plans for the United States’ F-22 and F-35.

The Chinese insist that the country’s J-20 stealth fighter jet was the work of the country’s own designers and engineers.

Since the J-20 is China’s first attempt to manufacture a stealth fighter, the details surrounding it are scarce. Observers currently don’t know if China created the jet’s engine or if the J-20 has a Russian-made engine.

According to a 2015 report by the Department of Defense on military developments in China, the Chinese Air Force is working on two separate stealth fighter programs (the J-20 and J-31) “to improve its regional power projection capabilities and strengthen its ability to strike regional airbases and facilities.”

Having a stealth fighter is important to China, which is working on developing an Air Force capable of conducting offensive operations abroad.

According to the Pentagon, the J-20 could be in service as early as 2018.

Related: 8 photos that prove China is ripping off military aircraft

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