BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:00 P.M.) – The world’s third operational fifth-generation aircraft, the Chengdu J-20 “Weilong,” has entered mass production, according to insider reports. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force has reportedly placed a large order, now that many of the jet’s early problems have been sorted out.
According to PLA insider reports, a new version of the J-20, the J-20B, is ready to be fielded by the Chinese military.
“Mass production of the J-20B started on Wednesday. It has finally become a complete stealth fighter jet, with its agility meeting the original criteria,” a military source close to the project told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Sunday.
“The launch of the J-20B means this aircraft now is a formal fifth-generation fighter jet,” said SCMP’s source, which noted Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC) had received “heavy orders” from the People’s Liberation Army.
Just a handful of J-20As have been made – 50 by the end of 2019 according to SCMP, which noted in January the PLA would likely need between 100 and 200 to fill its needs. It’s estimated CAC can make four J-20s per month.
The source noted the new version of the stealthy jet is equipped with thrust vector control, a high-tech function on some newer jet fighters that allows them to change the angle their jet engines are pointing. This function makes an aircraft supermaneuverable.
Some other jets with the ability include the US’ F-22 Raptor, Russia’s Su-30-series fighters and Su-57 and China’s J-10C.