Beijing, Feb 12 (IANS) China has said that its newest J-20 fourth-generation stealth fighter was combat-ready and officially commissioned into the country’s air force, the media reported.
Long touted as China’s answer to US F-22 and F-35 stealth fighter jets, analysts say the J-20 is intended to fulfil two roles, air-to-air combat and ground attack.
“The stealth jets will improve the air force’s comprehensive fighting ability and enable it to better safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,” Xinhua news agency quoted Shen Jinke, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, as saying.
A report last year from the China Power Project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies suggests the J-20 could be used to strike enemy airfields and command centres in the ground attack role, reports CNN.
The report also points out that if long-range air-to-air missile are mounted on the J-20, it could threaten key components of the US air fleet, such as aerial refuelling tankers and early warning and command and control aircraft.
In a post on the PLA’s website, Chinese military expert Song Zongping said the J-20 will “engage with rivals in the future who dare to provoke China in the air”.
The post claims that the arrival of the J-20 will change the balance of air power in the Asia-Pacific region, CNN reported.
“In the past, only the US and its allies like Japan were capable of arming stealth fighter jets. But now, their monopoly in this region has been broken by China’s J-20.”
China first flew the twin-engine J-20 in 2011, and it was introduced to the public during a flyby at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, near Hong Kong, in November 2016.