Chinese Stealth Fighter, With Thrust Vectors, Enters Mass Production

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The Chinese military held a ceremony last week for their newly modified J-20B stealth fighter jet.

“Production of the J-20B started on Wednesday. It has finally become a complete stealth fighter jet, with its agility meeting the original criteria,” a military source said.

“The most significant change to the fighter jet is that it is now equipped with thrust vector control,” the source said.

Thrust vector control or TVC, gives fighter jets increased maneuverability and better combat capability in the air.

“TVC involves a movable thrust nozzle that enables a fixed-wing plane to change the direction of its engine exhaust. This allows the pilot to raise the aircraft’s nose cone vertically while maintaining forward momentum so the plane effectively ‘sits’ on its own tail in an aerodynamic stall caused by low speed and a high angle of attack.”

“The use of such technology extensively boosts the maneuverability of a fighter jet, providing advantages in aerial combat, especially during close-range dogfights,” said Defense Aerospace.

The use of TVC technology has up until now been dominated by the U.S. and Russia.

The technology, if in fact perfected and deployed, will give Chinese air forces an answer to the American Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The Lightning II has been deployed to several U.S. allies surrounding China in recent years.

Last year the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAF) said such technology (likely referring to the J-20B) would achieve “overwhelming superiority” over the F-35.

Photo by Sunson Guo

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