First Chinese stealth fighter appears

Jan. 5, 2011 at 12:35 PM
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CHENGDU, China, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- China rolled out its first stealth fighter jet Wednesday, reports and photos leaked to state-run media show.

The Defense Ministry did not comment, The Daily Telegraph said, but China's Global Times reported on the J-20 fighter's runway test at the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute in southwest China.

Photos also appeared on unofficial military Web sites and blogs, and were not censored.

The plane could be flight-tested as early as Thursday, observers said.

Deputy air force chief He Weirong told state television in November 2009 that China's "fourth-generation" fighter, a reference to stealth technology, would begin testing soon and could enter service in eight years.

China's aviation industry is advancing but still uses imported technology, reports said. Russian engines still power the J-10 fighter and the J-11, a copy of Russia's Su-27 fighter jet.

Analysis of the J-20 photos indicates it is larger than Russian or U.S. equivalents, probably letting it fly farther and carry heavier weapons, The Daily Telegraph said.

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