The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLA-AF) of China has officially commissioned its very first stealth aircraft, Chengdu’s J-20 fighter, a Chinese military spokesman said September 28, making it only one of three operational stealth aircraft models in the world.
The twin-engine, single-seat jet “has been officially commissioned into military service,” Xinhua reports, citing Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian.
Per Xinhua, the “fourth-generation” medium- and long-range aircraft is still undergoing flight tests which “are being conducted as scheduled.”
Scout Warrior’s Dave Majumdar reports that China’s fourth-generation designation corresponds to what most mature air forces consider “fifth-generation” aircraft, namely the F-22 and F-35.
The F-22 Raptor went live in 2005 while the US military’s other fifth-generation aircraft, the F-35 — informally known as the ‘F-22 With a Cupholder’ — reached initial operational capability (IOC) in 2015. Technically, the F-35A US Air Force variant attained IOC in December 2016, the US Marine Corps’ short-takeoff and vertical landing variant hit IOC in December 2015, and the US Navy’s F-35C is expected to receive the IOC declaration in February 2019, according to a report for Congressional Defense Committees prepared by the F-35 Joint Program Office.