By Bijan Razzaghi
The Sheyning J-20 that was recently introduced into Chinese service in 2018 appears to be more of a strike/interceptor aircraft than an air superiority fighter. This would put the aircraft on par with the Russian Mig-31. The J-20 would primarily be tasked with intercepting long range bombers or attacking strategic aircraft such as tankers and AWACs platforms , while in the strike role the J-20 would be used to attack heavily defended targets and surface vessels.
The aircrafts long range and fuel capacity along with the aircrafts heavy payload make it ideal for this role. The exact range has not been disclosed, but the aircraft can cary 25,000 lbs of fuel internally. J-20s would likely form the backbone of Chinese maritime strike forces in the pacific.
The J-20 also has limited stealth capabilities, being able to avoid detection only at long ranges, yet the aircrafts design features such as the frontal canards make it unlikely that the aircrafts radar signature is similar to the F-22 and F-35.
J-20s will eventually replace Chinas aging fleet of J-8 interceptors which some 200 remain in service. The. J-20 will be joined by the lighter and more maneuverable J-31 in the next decade.