Check it out, China's J-20 stealth fighter apparently had its second flight on Tuesday at the Chengdu airfield, taking to the skies for the first time since its premiere flight that occurred during a visit by United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates to China in January.
From China's state-owned Global Times newspaper:
"The J-20 made several passes and waggled its wings (rolling the plane first to one side then to the other) to salute the crowd near the airfield," a witness told the Global Times on condition of anonymity, adding that the plane took off at around 4:25 pm and landed at about 5:50 pm.Interestingly, the Global Times headline features the term flies in quotation marks.
As of press time, Chinese authorities had not commented on the issue, but the Xinhua News Agency posted another clip of the flight uploaded by Internet users.
Mystery jet 'flies' againNot sure what that's all about.
Anyway, the article does give a little tease about whether the jet's a proof of concept demonstrator or an actual prototype for a production jet. This matters because if it's a prototype this means that a production run could begin within the next decade while a concept demonstrator may take longer to turn into a mass-produced plane. From the way Chinese aviation officials are talking, it sounds like this may be a prototype for a jet that will see production.
Xu Yongling, one of China's top test pilots, said that if Sunday's test flight proved true, it would be more or less the same as the first test, but Xu noted that every test is one step closer to mass production.The J-20 is rumored to be using Russian-made engines.
"The first 10 to 20 tests are meant to calibrate the entire aircraft, including its stability, handling qualities and performance. All of them are short in time, but the entire process will take years to complete," Xu told the Global Times on Monday.
The alleged test flight coincided with a celebration in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday that marked the 60th anniversary of China's aviation industry.
Lin Zuoming, general manager of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), pledged at the ceremony to push forward the development of next-generation aircraft and to make breakthroughs in propulsion systems.
"By 2015, the research and design of all key models will be completed," Lin said, adding that inferior engine design has been a "bottleneck" for the advancement of China's aviation industry.
According to him, AVIC will invest 10 billion yuan ($1.52 billion) in engine development, which is equivalent to its net profit from 2010.
Keep in mind that a Chinese general apparently said in 2009 that the J-20 will be in service by the end of the decade. So yeah, my money is on this bird being an actual prototype.
Click through the jump for some shots of the plane being serviced by ground crew to get a really good sense of just how big it is.
More shots of this latest flight over at China Defense Blog.