Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said the newest J-20 prototype must be tested to inspect technical changes designers made to it based on test results from earlier prototypes.
“Once the tests are carried out successfully, small-scale production will begin and the PLA Air Force will become the world's second user of a fifth-generation stealth fighter (following the United States Air Force),” China Daily reported Wang as saying.
He expects that the first of the J-20s will be delivered to the military around 2017.
China carried out the maiden flight of the J-20 in January 2011 and has produced 10 prototypes, including the 2101, since then. Before the 2101, all prototypes were layered with dark-colored paint that experts suggested had stealth capability.
According to a military observer GaoZhuo in Shanghai, the Y-20 is needed badly by the PLA because it lacks “a fast and reliable platform” to project its power overseas.
He said China will soon face a big challenge in Asia-Pacific airspace from the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II stealth warplanes to be deployed by the US and Japan, and this is why China is developing its advanced aircraft so quickly.