Chinese military enthusiasts online are eagerly expecting new, homemade warplanes to debut in 2020, naming the next-generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet and the carrier-based early warning aircraft as their top wishes.
They also hope to see domestically developed aero engines finally equipped on J-20 stealth fighter jets.
The internet users’ appetite was whetted by a statement from the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) last week, in which the country’s main warplane developer announced the company would develop nine types of aircraft, conduct maiden flights for four types of aircraft, and receive a production permit for one type of aircraft in 2020.
While the development plan may not be revealed to the public immediately, the maiden flights are more concrete, as the military channel of news portal Sina held a vote on its social media platform Weibo, asking military enthusiasts online which type of aircraft they would like to see.
As of Wednesday, 42 percent of more than 4,000 votes went to the next-generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet, 28 percent the carrier-based early warning aircraft and 23 percent the twin-seat variant J-20 fighter jet.
While the new aircraft AVIC mentioned could include both military and civilian aircraft, China’s military aviation equipment will definitely continue to see new progress in 2020, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Wednesday.
China needs to develop a stealth-capable carrier-based fighter jet to form a complete set with the country’s future aircraft carrier, air defense expert Fu Qianshao told the Global Times in a previous interview, noting details on the aircraft remain rumors.
A replica of China’s carrier-based early warning aircraft was spotted years ago. This type of aircraft could amplify aircraft carrier’s combat capability by acting as a command center in the sky, gathering information and coordinating vessels into a stronger strike force, experts said.
Photographers posted photos of a J-20, still single seat but equipped with homemade engines on Sina Weibo in late 2019, as military enthusiasts said they also wish to see this evolved version of the J-20 debut at the 2020 Airshow China, scheduled for November in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province.
In a Friday Weibo post, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) indicated AVIC is developing an “X-20,” which internet users identified as the H-20 bomber.
Replying to comments under the post, SASAC said the X-20 was “coming soon,” but refused to confirm the H-20 speculation.
Analysts said the H-20 is unlikely to debut in 2020 and will take more time to develop.