Despite being heavily outnumbered, a Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) pilot scored a 17:0 victory against opponents with a newly commissioned fighter jet in a recent combat exercise. Many clues suggest that the aircraft the pilot flew was likely the J-20, China's most advanced stealth fighter jet. If the speculation turns out to be true, the exercise result again demonstrated the absolute superiority the J-20 has over its previous generation counterparts, media and experts said on Tuesday.
Indian media previously hyped that India's newly purchased Rafale fighter jets, which are one generation older than the J-20, were better than the Chinese aircraft.
Facing interceptions from multiple directions, Chen Xinhao, a young pilot attached to the Wang Hai Air Group under the PLA Eastern Theater Command, coordinated with his teammate and took down 17 opposing fighter jets with no damage taken, despite being heavily outnumbered, the PLA Daily reported on Monday.
Chen had only recently switched to flying this new type of warplane and had just flown with it for 100 hours, the PLA Daily said.
The PLA Daily report did not specify what fighter jet Chen flew.
The PLA Air Force announced in 2019 that the Wang Hai Air Group was equipped with the J-20, and in January, it showed the first scenes of J-20 fighter jets of the Wang Hai Air Group conducting real-combat scenario exercises.
The Wang Hai Air Group is the first in the PLA to have fully switched to using the J-20 fighter jets, so the new fighter jet Chen operated must have been the J-20, Shanghai-based news website eastday.com said in a report on Monday.
Xi'an-based defense magazine Ordnance Industry Science Technology also said on Monday that Chen very likely used the J-20. "Even though the PLA Daily used an illustration of Su-30MKKs in the report, given the capability of this kind of fighter jet, it cannot win this kind of landslide victory," it said.
If the speculation is true, the exercise once again demonstrated the overwhelming advantage the J-20 has over its previous generation counterparts, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
This is because of the J-20's superior capabilities in fields including stealth, situational awareness, maneuverability and weapons, according to Fu.
China's current training is real-combat oriented, and if the J-20 can score an overwhelming advantage in mock battles, it will do the same in real combat, Fu predicted.
In July, when India received delivery of five Rafale fighter jets, India's former air chief marshal B.S. Dhanoa claimed that it was "a game changer, and the Chinese J-20 does not even come close," the Hindustan Times reported at the time.
The Rafale is only a third-plus generation (or fourth-plus generation in Western classification) fighter jet, resulting in a generational gap with the J-20, and will find it very difficult to confront a stealth-capable fourth (fifth) generation fighter jet like the J-20, Chinese experts said then.
Forbes reported in mid-August that two J-20s momentarily appeared at Hotan Airport in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, about 320 kilometers from the China-India border region.