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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Chinese websites claim fifth-generation fighter has made maiden flight

RIA Novosti

13:45 11/01/2011

BEIJING, January 11 (RIA Novosti, Alexander Stelliferovsky) - China's fifth-generation stealth fighter appears to have flown for the first time on Tuesday, according to a series of accounts and images taken by Chinese aviation enthusiasts.

The prototype Black Silk J-20 stealth fighter was pictured at the end of its 20-minute maiden flight followed by two J-10 fighter chase planes.

There has been no official comment from Chinese government agencies.

The J-20 appears to be an equivalent of the U.S. F-22 Raptor and the Russo-Indian T-50.

"The J-20 appears to be either a demonstrator or a prototype of a combat aircraft with low observable characteristics, particularly in the front quadrant," said Douglas Barrie, a senior fellow for military aerospace with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

China has been working on a future fighter program since the mid-1990s, and the J-20 is notionally anticipated to enter service around 2018-2020, he added.

"The design, particularly the rear section and in plan-form is reminiscent of MiG's 1.42 fighter project, the program for which was cancelled in the latter half of the 1990s," Barrie said.

The imagery and video footage now appearing on the web also suggests it is larger than either the Russian or U.S. model and should be capable of flying a longer range and carrying a heavier weapon load, the Aviation and Aerospace website said.

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