The Shanghai Morning Post describes how a new flight video of seven Chengdu J-20 stealth fighters could mean series production of the fifth-generation warplane has already started as tensions between the US increased in the region.
The latest video, published by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAF) on Tuesday and aired on national television, showed seven J-20s participating in a training maneuver.
This was the second-largest J-20 flight disclosed on video by the PLA, the first was on PLA day on August 01, when five jets were shown.
The four-minute video, the latest video to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic and its air force. Another flight could be scheduled on October 10.
“This video is to say that a number of mass-produced J-20s have entered service and are ready to do battle,” said Song Zhongping, a military commentator based in Hong Kong.
The Post believes the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group has ramped production of the stealth fighter to at least 20 per year. Engine delays have limited J-20 production over the last several years.
Full production of the stealth jets is expected in 2020.
The show of force by China comes weeks after the US announced a new military contract with Taiwan, one where it would provide 66 General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has been creating a fifth-generation stealth fighter circle around China. Deploying F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II stealth jets across the Asia-Pacific region.
By the mid-2020s, the Pentagon is expected to have at least 200 F-35s surrounding China, according to General Charles Brown, commander of the US Pacific Air Forces.
Brown said earlier this year that the F-35 is deterrence against a rising China across the Asia-Pacific region.
The Pentagon is even selling the F-35s to allies. Japan has bought 100 of the stealth jets, 105 F-35As, and 42 short take-off and vertical landing variant F-35Bs.
By early summer, Japan has received 13 of the F-35As.
Closer to China, the South Korean Air Force ordered 40 F-35As. Eight have been delivered so far this year, with at least ten more arriving by 4Q19.
Military analysts have said the US surrounding China with stealth jets is called the “F-35 friends circle."
And with China expected to ramp up production of its J-20, it will soon be prepared for a potential clash with hostile stealth fighters from the West. Conflict is coming with the US and China, the pawns are being moved in place.