The advanced stealth fighter, which had its debut flight a decade ago, may receive a critical upgrade likely to be the largest of a number of changes, media reports revealed on Monday.
China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet will receive 2D thrust vectoring nozzles for its aircraft engines, Li Gang, the pilot who flew the aircraft for its maiden flight told Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV on Monday, as reported by the Global Times.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) J-20s previously had circular nozzles and no thrust vector control capacity, the report read.
Beijing’s upgrade to the advanced stealth fighter jet – known as the Mighty Dragon – could allow greater manoeuvrability and stealth capabilities to surpass the US’s F-22, according to Chinese military aviation expert Fu Qianshao talking to the Global Times.
The news comes after a similar plane, the J-10B, was revealed to have upgraded 3D thrust vector control systems at the Zhushai Airshow in 2018.
According to Fu, 2D offers greater radar and infrared stealth capabilities compared with 3D nozzles, the former having a rectangular shape and the latter a circular design.
Fu added that he expected the J-20’s thrust vectoring nozzles to move similarly to its US counterpart, but hoped future designs could also move horizontally, allowing the PLA stealth fighter jet to overtake the F-22.
At present, the US Air Force’s F-22 stealth fighter jet has 2D nozzles, the report explained.
Speaking to media on the J-20’s engines at the airshow, aircraft chief designer Yang Wei said: “You asked about when it would be upgraded, but how do you know it hasn’t already?”
The plane has undergone several changes since its maiden flight in 2011, namely the removal of its Luneburg Lens and installation of twin seats, among other things.