Video Of Mysterious Chinese Twin-seat Stealth Fighter Emerges

Chinese J-20 fighter
Credit: Brad Perrett/Aviation Week File Photo

SINGAPORE—A video of a twin-seat variant of the Chengdu J-20 “Mighty Dragon” stealth fighter has emerged on the internet, suggesting China has developed the world’s first twin-seat stealth fighter, a feat Western manufacturers have not accomplished. 

Short of an official confirmation by Chinese authorities, the video is the best imagery of the aircraft and confirms months of speculation, as well as dispelling any previously doctored image of the aircraft. 

The J-20 could be designated as J-20S, for “shuang,” or double. 

At the Zhuhai Airshow in September, J-20 chief designer Yang Wei hinted to state newspaper Global Times that there are three versions of the J-20, and a hypothetical twin-seater J-20 will “definitely not be a trainer version, but one developed to increase combat effectiveness.” 

A number of twin-seat J-20 renderings at the airshow also showed where the fighter is serving as a “mother ship” for autonomous air-teaming UAS.  

Since the introduction of the J-20 in the mid-2010s, the aircraft was described by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) as the “needle to break the net,” referring to its penetrative capability to disable an enemy air defense network. For PLAAF to maximize the J-20’s deep-strike features, the fighter could exploit China’s burgeoning UAS and artificial intelligence industry, with the J-20 acting as a key control node among new “loyal wingman”-style UAS, like the China Aerospace Science Technology FH-97, which was also unveiled at Zhuhai this year.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.