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Military Capabilities

China’s J-20 fighter aircraft takes part in its first combat exercise, says report

15 January 2018

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF’s) J-20 ‘fifth-generation’ multirole fighter has taken part in its first combat drills, according to a 12 January report by the state-owned China Daily newspaper.A pair of Chinese J-20 aircraft flying at the Airshow China 2016 exhibition in Zhuhai. The ‘fifth-generation’ multirole fighter recently took part in its first combat drills, according to Chinese media reports. (Kelvin Wong / IHS Markit)A pair of Chinese J-20 aircraft flying at the Airshow China 2016 exhibition in Zhuhai. The ‘fifth-generation’ multirole fighter recently took part in its first combat drills, according to Chinese media reports. (Kelvin Wong / IHS Markit)

Citing a PLAAF news release, the paper reported that several J-20s recently took part in a series of exercises against less advanced Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-16 and J-10C Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC) fighter aircraft, and practised beyond-visual-range aerial fighting manoeuvres.

“The exercises took place over the past nine days at an undisclosed air base and were realistic,” the paper quoted the PLAAF as saying on 11 January.

“This is the first time the [PLAAF] has confirmed that the J-20 has participated in a combat exercise,” the Chin a Daily report added. The report came after a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense in Beijing confirmed in late September 2017 that the aircraft had entered service with the PLAAF.

Media reports claimed at the time that the platform would “soon” enter series production and that it was on a path towards achieving full operational capability.

Less than two months earlier, on 30 July, three J-20s flying in formation had been seen performing a fly-past as part of a military parade held at the Zhurihe military training base in the country’s northern region of Inner Mongolia to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

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