The Chengdu J-20, also known as Mighty Dragon, is a twinjet all weather stealth fighter aircraft developed by China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
J-20A is the first production variant of the J-20 platform.
Flight testing began with prototypes in late 2010, with maiden flight in 2011.
The variant entered serial production in October 2017. J-20A was incorporated into training units of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force in March 2017, and the combat unit in September 2021.
The twin-seat variant of J-20, named J-20S or J-20B by defence analysts, is a version of J-20 in development.
J-20S was first spotted in October 2021, taxiing inside a Chengdu Aircraft Corporation facility in yellow primer paint and untreated composite, making it the first twin-seat stealth fighter in the world.
The twin-seat design allows the possibility for the second operator to conduct airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) missions, which J-20 would leverage its avionics and networking capability to provide battle space surveillance, battle management, and intelligence analysis.
The stealth fighter could act as a more survivable and distributed alternative to traditional airborne warning and command post aircraft.
In addition to aircraft teaming, a twin-seat configuration may also provide marginal benefits in pilot training and strike missions.
The advantage for a second operator includes the potential for better interpreting and exploiting the enormous sensory data that could overload the limited cognitive and processing capacity for a single human.
The back seat operator would focus on managing the manned or unmanned aircraft fleet, reducing the pilot’s workload in a contested air combat environment.
With increased automation and artificial intelligence in the aircraft system, the two men crew would likely be able to delegate more complex AEW&C tasks, absorb information, and make tactical decisions.
21.2 m (69 ft 7 in)
13.01 m (42 ft 8 in)
4.69 m (15 ft 5 in)
73 m2 (790 sq ft)
17,000 kg (37,479 lb)
25,000 kg (55,116 lb)
Max take-off weight
37,000 kg (81,571 lb)
12,000 kg (26,000 lb) internally
2 × Saturn AL-31 FM2 afterburning turbofan,
145 kN (33,000 lbf) with afterburner
2 × Shenyang WS-10C afterburning turbofan,
147 kN (33,000 lbf) with afterburner
2 × Shenyang WS-15 afterburning turbofan,
181 kN (41,000 lbf) with afterburner
5,500 km (3,400 mi, 3,000 nmi) with 2 external fuel tanks
2,000 km (1,200 mi, 1,100 nmi)
20,000 m (66,000 ft)
Rate of climb
304 m/s (59,800 ft/min)
340 kg/m2 (69 lb/sq ft)
0.92 (1.12 with loaded weight and 50% fuel) with WS-10C/AL-31FM2 (estimated)
Maximum weapon capacity: 11,000 kg (24,000 lb)
Internal weapon bays
PL-10 short range AAM
PL-12 Medium Range AAM
PL-15 BVR long range AAM
PL-21 Long Range AAM
LS-6/50 kg and LS-6/100 kg Small-diameter precision-guided bomb
4 × underwing pylons capable of carrying drop tanks.
Type 1475 (KLJ-5) Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar