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Images emerge of two-seat J-20 prototype in yellow primer

Images and video footage have emerged on Chinese social media platforms showing what appears to be a two-seat prototype of the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) J-20A fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft.

Released on 26 October, the images show the prototype, which was painted in yellow primer, taxiing at CAIG's airfield, next to the production facility in Chengdu-Huangtianba. The prototype features an elongated canopy covering the tandem cockpit, however, it has not been fitted with the grey painted nose radome, seen on the single-seat variant, suggesting that the radar has not yet been installed on this aircraft.

No information was provided about when the images were captured. However, they are believed to have been taken recently.

While the concept of a two-seat version of the J-20A is not new and computer-generated images of such a variant have circulated online for years, this is the first time that photographs have emerged of an actual prototype.

Should China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) decide to induct this variant, the service would become the first air arm in the world to field a two-seat fifth-generation aircraft.

It is unclear how the PLAAF will officially designate this variant, which is being commonly referred to as the J-20B, J-20AS, or J-20S. The reason for the many potential names is that the aircraft's designation will likely depend on its intended role in the force.

For instance, the PLAAF usually adds the letter ‘S' when naming trainer variants. However, if the new variant is meant for a combat role, then the service replaces the last letter of the previous variant with the following one in the alphabet. This is why in the case of the single-seat J-20A fighter, a new two-seat fighter variant could be known as the J-20B.

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