Chinese (PLAAF) fighter jets, the J-16, and stealth J-20, displayed their might recently at Changchun Air Show. Both the J-16 and J-20 have been used by PLAAF to intimidate Taiwan as Beijing looks to reunify the island with the mainland.
There were several attractions in the open-house event that entertained the Chinese citizens. However, the mainstay was the aerobatic demonstrations by the most capable fighter jets of the PLA Air Force- the J-16 multirole fighter jet, the J-20 stealth fighter jet, and the Y-20 large transport aircraft.
The aerial demonstrations by these aircraft occurred a couple of weeks after they participated in the drills encircling Taiwan following Nancy Pelosi’s visit.
While the J-16 is the most frequent visitor to Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), the J-20 has been deployed in the East and the South China Sea for combat patrols.
A Y-20 transport aircraft took off and amazed the crowd with maneuvers like low-altitude flights and sharp twists, demonstrating the aircraft’s agility despite its enormous size.
The open-house event also saw the debut of the YU-20 transport aircraft, an aerial tanker variant of the Y-20 transport aircraft.
The debut came just two days after the PLAAF released a photo of the J-16 and the J-20 being refueled mid-air by the YU-20 aircraft, as previously reported by the EurAsian Times.
A spokesperson for China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) earlier said that the YU-20, a next-generation tanker intended to improve the long-range operational capabilities of other aircraft, was included in combat readiness training.
— Zhou Li周莉 (@Zhou_Li_CHN) August 26, 2022
The JH-7 fighter bomber, the H-6K bomber, the HQ-9B long-range surface-to-air missile, and several types of radar systems were also on show, along with other main force gear.
China paraded its attack fighters and bombers amid heightened regional tensions with Taiwan and Western adversaries.
China has been outright belligerent starting May when the US President embarked on his maiden visit to Asia when it conducted a spate of drills in the region, to August when it began live-fire drills near the Taiwan Strait in response to US Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
The stunning performances and dazzling maneuvers by its fleet’s most advanced fighter jets become all the more significant in the wake of escalating tensions.
J-16, J-20 Steal The Show
According to Chinese media reports, a J-16 multirole fighter jet stunned the audience at the event’s opening ceremony by doing multiple low-altitude maneuvers, demonstrating the pilots’ excellent judgment and control and the aircraft’s exceptional mobility.
The J-16 has been upgraded to the J-16D variant and outfitted with an advanced electronic warfare suite to enhance the precision capability and operational maneuver on the axis of information and communication, thus putting a blanket aviation electronic system in place.
In April this year, the PLA claimed that armed with J-16 fighters, it had shadowed a USS Sampson US Navy warship traversing the Taiwan Strait. The aircraft is one of the most trusted by the PLA Air Force.
— Zhang Heqing张和清 (@zhang_heqing) August 26, 2022
While the J-16 opened the show, the fifth-generation stealthy Mighty Dragon closed the event. The event culminated with a J-20 stealth fighter plane doing a series of complex maneuvers, including quick pull-ups, quick turns, and successive horizontal and vertical movements.
A Chinese military analyst at the event, Wang Mingzhi, told Global Times on Friday that the J-20 can quickly assume positions for attacks because maneuvers like steep spins and quick turns following pull-ups and dives are frequently used in air combat. Li Debing, the pilot who flew the J-20 at the event, said the J-20’s flights were combat-oriented.
— BNN China (@BNNChina) August 27, 2022
The first PLA combat unit outfitted this particular J-20 and recently took part in joint drills over Taiwan earlier this month. China released a video showing J-20 stealth fighter jets participating in military drills, flying from an airfield.
China’s J-20 is the most advanced fighter jet in its inventory. With the Mighty Dragons, the PLAAF aims to close the capability gap with the US Air Force armed with the F-22 Raptors and the F-35s. A J-20 pilot recently revealed that the aircraft could search and track the F-22 and F-35 aircraft.
The J-20 has reportedly engaged with the American F-35, as revealed by USAF Pacific Commander General Kenneth Wilsbach, who sounded optimistic about the aircraft’s prowess.
The Chinese experts have also been vocal about the deadly combined strength of the J-16 and the J-20 fighters. China-Arms quoted Chinese military expert Wang Mingliang saying, “As J-16D and J-20 join hands, it must be one plus one greater than two, or even greater than three; we will use such a pairing in the future battlefield.”
The PLA Air Force can easily carry out missions around the island of Taiwan with the help of heavy fighter jets like the J-20 and J-16 as well as large aircraft like bombers, early warning aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft, according to Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, who spoke to the Global Times.
The YU-20 aerial tanker, which could refuel other aircraft from the air and significantly extend their combat range, amplifies this further. The Changchun’s opening was a display of its combat capability.