China's next-generation stealth fighter jet J-20 has an operational range of 1,500 km, military experts believe. The estimate comes from Kanwa Asian Defence Monthly, a military magazine published in Canada.
The stealth jet, which saw its first test flight last week, has a much longer operational range than China's top-of-the-line J-10 fighter jet, which can fly sorties of some 900 km, the F-16s, the mainstay fighters in South Korea and Japan (550 to 1,100km), and the U.S.' F-22 (760 to 1,200 km). It is similar to the maximum operational range of the U.S.' ultramodern stealth fighter F-35.
Hong Yuan of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told Kanwa the J-20 will have a big impact on neighboring countries, including South Korea and Japan, since China will now have air supremacy over the West Pacific, as well as over Taiwan, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea.
"Especially in the current complicated situation around China, the unveiling of the new aircraft not only demonstrates China's determination to achieve regional air superiority, but also reflects a guarantee of the technology and equipment to realize this determination," he said.
China has reportedly started testing the J-20 for flight control, software devices, engine, and aerodynamics. Experts told the magazine China "probably wouldn't be able to make the aircraft fully operational until the end of the decade: It appears to be testing at least two prototypes, which will likely be adapted many times before being put into large-scale production."