Alleged new variant of Chinese J-20 stealth fighter emerges

With a different canopy, PLAAF aircraft may also have been equipped with the new WS-15 engine

Although in service with the PLAAF (People’s Liberation Army Air Force) since 2017, the Chengdu J-20, China’s first 5th gen stealth fighter, continues to be improved.

Unverified images shared on social media show an alleged prototype of the aircraft with registration 2051 spotted containing significant design changes.

The main change is in the redesign of the upper front part of the fuselage compared to the original version of the J-20. The new lower-profile, flatter canopy resembles the design of the Shenyang J-35, another stealth fighter under development in China, but which will be used by the Navy aboard its new aircraft carriers.

Experts point out that these changes could improve the fighter’s low radar signature, as well as lower aerodynamic drag at transonic speeds.

The 2051 prototype is also being referred to by the designation J-20B, a more modern variant of the “Weilóng” (Mandarin pronunciation for “Mighty Dragon”), as the fighter is called in China.

It is possible that the fighter jet will also be equipped with Shenyang WS-15 engines, which are designed entirely in China – the WS-10B and WS-10C engines currently used in the J-20 are derived from Russian engines.

Always discreet in their statements, the fighter manufacturer or the Chinese government did not comment on the modifications to the J-20, which is currently the most advanced combat aircraft in service in China.

The new canopy could be indicative of aerodynamic and stealth improvements (Via Twitter)

The nation was the second in the world to put a 5th generation fighter into service, after the US with the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II.

According to reports, Chengdu would have the capacity to produce 35 examples of the J-20 per year and this rate should increase continuously until 2030. Despite the lack of confirmation of information, the PLAAF may already have more than 200 stealth fighters in service.

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