China Upgrading J-20 Stealth Fighter, Next Gen Soon

China Upgrading J-20 Stealth Fighter, Next Gen Soon

According to Li Gang, the test pilot who flew the J-20’s maiden flight in 2011, China’s fifth-generation stealth fighter is undergoing constant upgrades to improve its combat capabilities. “The J-20 is constantly improving, keeping pace with the times, and continuously perfecting its mission system,” Li stated in a CCTV report.

Rapid Technological Advancements

Military aviation expert Fu Qianshao told the Global Times that China’s aviation technologies have advanced at an “astonishing speed” since the J-20’s first flight over a decade ago. The latest upgrades incorporate new aerodynamics, engines, avionics, radars, software and materials.

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Leading-Edge Capabilities

With these enhancements, Fu assesses the J-20 as now the world’s most advanced operational fighter jet, surpassing the aging U.S. F-22 Raptor which has seen few upgrades. He says China will not stop at the J-20 as rival powers develop sixth-generation designs.

Next-Gen Fighter Imminent

Hinting at China’s next fighter program, Li stated “As our country’s aviation industry continues developing, the next generation will definitely come out soon.” Fu believes China has caught up or is even leading cutting-edge fighter technologies.

Leveraging Open Architecture

Analysts expect the new Chinese fighter to leverage open systems architecture like the J-20 for rapid design, production and upgrades. Potential next-gen features could include AI integration, loyal wingman drones, advanced engines, stronger stealth and C4ISR capabilities.

While details remain unclear, insights from the J-20 test pilot underscore China’s determination to maintain a leading edge in fighter design and avionics as it presses development of an even more capable sixth-generation fighter to follow its flagship J-20 stealth jet. Rapid progress could allow China to surpass traditional Western leaders in this strategic aerospace domain.

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