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J-20 shows its teeth in Zhuhai

Photo: via Chinese Internet


The Chengdu J-20A stealth fighter is the undoubted star of China’s current fighter developments, and at this year’s International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition at Zhuhai the type wowed the crowds with a stunning two-ship display. However, on the final day, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) took this one step further as the type opened its weapons bays to reveal a full missile load.

The configuration included four PL-15 air-to-air missiles in the main under-fuselage bay and two PL-10 missiles mounted on rails that extended from the cheek weapons bays. Significantly, and unlike the F-22 Raptor, these particular bays can seemingly be opened, the weapons extended, and the doors closed again. The F-22 must keep the bays open to extend the missiles out, then fire them, before retracting the rails and closing the doors. The radar cross section benefits of the PL-10s being extended and the doors closed will be the subject of further scrutiny and reporting. Two theories on this could be that either the J-20 is not currently able to open the doors, acquire, fire and retract the empty rail fast enough. Or, hanging the missile outside the bay allows a helmet sighting system to be used effectively, or a combination of both.

More details as we get them…

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