J-20 Fighters Upgrade Chinese Air Force's Combat Capabilities
(Source: China Military Online; issued June 22, 2018)
BEIJING --- At present there are only three types of the fourth-generation heavy stealth fighter jets in the world: the US F-22A Raptor, Russian Su-57 PAK-FA and China’s J-20.

The hard-fought Syrian battlefield has become a test ground for the fourth-generation aircraft of the United States and Russia. The US Air Force tries to maintain its air superiority with F-22A fighters, while the Russian Aerospace Forces have a comprehensive test of their Su-57 fighters.

Although China's J-20 fighter jet hasn’t had opportunity to be tested in the battlefield, it has been accelerating pace in forming combat capabilities and conducting realistic training. The J-20 stealth fighters promote China's construction of air combat system from the following three aspects:

Firstly, it launches the upgrade process of Chinese fighter jets.

Although 15 to 16 years behind the US Air Force's process, the Chinese Air Force is equipped with the fourth-generation fighters with the Russian Aerospace Forces almost synchronously.

Compared with the fourth-generation single-engine light stealth fighter F-35A that Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and other neighbouring countries are equipped with, China's twin-engine heavy stealth fighter J-20 enjoys air superiority and has more powerful and comprehensive combat capability in gaining air domination and attacking ground targets.

Secondly, it upgrades the integrated offensive-defensive capability of the PLA Air force.

The largest advantage of aviation forces lies in the combat capability of full-spectrum and fast maneuver.

The Chinese PLA Air Force began to get experience of the third-generation fighters after introducing Su-27 fighters from Russia and improved China's J-11 and J-16 fighters based on the Su-27 fighter. Meanwhile China designed and developed the J-10 light fighters, thus establishing an integrated offensive-defensive air combat system.

The commissioning of the fourth-generation J-20 stealth fighters will further enhance the integrated offensive and defensive capability of the PLA Air Force. In air offensive campaigns (AOCs), J-20 stealth fighter can create favourable conditions for its fellow fighters by penetrating enemy’s air defense system first.

Thirdly, it improves the confrontation capability of the air-ground joint combat system.

As the standard equipment of the fourth-generation fighters, the J-20 fighter is equipped with sophisticated, powerful, multirole active phased-array radar with longer detection distance and more powerful detection capability.

Generally speaking, the air detection distance of the fourth-generation fighters are two to three times that of the third-generation fighters, similar to that of mid-sized early-warning aircraft.

If J-20 jointly operates with the improved type of third-generation fighters like J-10, J-11, J-16 and Su-30, the early warning aircraft can provide early warning, command and guidance, or the J-20 can also provide air cover and mid- and long-range air targets guidance for other fighters, in order to improve the air combat capability of a mixed air fleet.

For the ground air defense forces, J-20 can be a “grindstone” in the air-ground confrontation exercises to fully test and sharpen the capabilities of radar troops, ground-to-air missile troops, anti-aircraft artillery troops and Electronic Warfare troops in detecting, tracking and intercepting stealthy fighters, so as to enhance the confrontation capability of air-ground joint combat system.

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