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Iran Press TV

China mass producing advanced J-20B warplanes as tensions rise with US

Iran Press TV

Monday, 13 July 2020 8:24 AM

Beijing has reportedly begun mass producing a modified version of its fifth-generation Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter jets amid escalating China-US tensions, which have given rise to fears of a military conflict between the two sides.

Chinese media cited military sources as saying Sunday that the new fighter – known as the J-20B – was officially unveiled at an inauguration ceremony held on July 8.

"The most significant change to the (J-20) fighter jet is that it is now equipped with thrust vector control," an unnamed source told the South China Morning Post, without elaborating on other upgrades.

The J-20 made its formal debut at the 2016 air show in southern China. A first batch of the state-of-the-art aircraft entered service a year later, when the US decided to deploy over 100 F-35 fighter jets to allied regional countries Japan and South Korea.

The Chinese fighter – the only non-American fifth-generation fighter jet to enter active service – boasts a wide range of features including a heads-up display, AESA radar guided air to air missiles and a distributed aperture system.

The twin-engine military aircraft is considerably heavier and more specialized than the US-made F-35 fighter jets.

The news comes amid heightened military tensions between China and the US over the American military's increased military activities in regional waters – which have long been at the center of territorial disputes between Beijing and its neighbors.

The tensions saw a spike earlier this month after the US, in a highly provocative move, deployed a strike group centered on two enormous nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing was holding naval drills.

The move drew a warning from Beijing, which claims sovereignty to most of the sea.

Observers have raised the alarm at the growing risk of a military conflict as communication channels between the countries' militaries are said to have fallen largely silent as two world powers remain locked in disputes in multiple spheres.

"If situations get out of control and a crisis happens, the impact on bilateral relations could be devastating. And that's why dialog is needed," Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, told the South China Morning Post late last month.

On Sunday, a US lawmaker predicted that a conflict between the two countries in the near future was inevitable.

"I would predict there will be a clash within the next three to six months," Republican lawmaker Ted Yoho told the Washington Examiner.

Yoho, who is on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee for Asia, claimed China would try to provoke a conflict with the US.

The Chinese warships would ram into a US warship patrolling near Chinese territorial waters "and say it was a mistake," he said.

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