Sept. 29 (UPI) — China’s defense ministry has publicly confirmed the J-20, Beijing’s proprietary stealth fighter, is being deployed with the country’s air force.
Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Thursday at a regular press briefing the indigenous fighter jet has been deployed and operations are “proceeding smoothly according to plan,” Hong Kong-based HK01 reported.
The Chinese air force publicly displayed four J-20 stealth fighters for the first time in 2016, and since that time pictures of the aircraft have been circulating widely online, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported.
The J-20 is capable of flying long distances while receiving air refueling, and can fire long-range cruise missiles. It can achieve a maximum speed of Mach 2.5, or 1,900 mph.
Taiwan’s China Times reported the J-20 is one of the world’s most lethal stealth fighters, along with the F-22, F-35 and the Russian Sukhoi-57, but lags behind U.S. rivals in communication and detection capabilities.
Zhan Houshun, a lieutenant general of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, said the J-20 has already realized the “Chinese spirit” during joint training exercises with Pakistan’s air force.
After its first public appearance in November 2016, the J-20 resurfaced at an event marking the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army on July 30.
Chinese weapons are cheaper than other products from the United States or Russia, but Chinese manufacturers have faced challenges finding buyers.