China began testing the world's first two-seater Fifth-generation fighterbased on the Chengdu J-20 "Black Eagle".
By itself, its development did not become news, however, the impression was that a disinformation field was being deliberately created around the project.
Last year, the South China Morning Post showed the two-seater J-20, which has a side-by-side arrangement of pilots, similar to how we see it on the Su-24 and Su-34 (a strange and not very good solution for a fighter, I must admit).
Another fake version looked more like a combat training version of the Eurofighter Typhoon.
However, the military blogs of the social network Weibo have recently dotted the "i" with regard to the appearance of the new machine.
The new photographs clearly show the aircraft with a two-seater tandem cockpit, visually similar to that seen on the training version of the French Dassault Rafale.
One of the videos shows taxiing and jogging of a two-seater J-20. In turn, the Dambiev telegram channel reported that on October 25, 2021, at the flight test station of the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) in Chengdu, the car took to the skies for the first time.
One of the photos shows an unpainted fighter in the air. The machine is similar to the novelty in question, however, since the fighter is only visible from the lower hemisphere, which version of the J-20 is in front of us cannot be said for sure.
It is also noteworthy that we still do not know the designation of the new car.
It is sometimes referred to as J-20B, J-20AS, or J-20S. No matter how dubbed the plane, one thing is clear: the new version of the J-20 will give China something that neither Russia nor even the United States has.
Recall that the only fifth-generation fighters adopted for service are now the American F-22 Raptor and F-35A / B / C, the Chinese J-20 and the Russian Su-57. Another "Chinese" - J-31 - is now being tested. The Japanese have a fifth-generation ATD-X demonstrator, and the Koreans have a KAI KF-X prototype. All of them are singles (at least in the versions that were shown to the general public and the media).
However, the idea itself was not invented by the Chinese.
The first two-seat fighter-bomber of the fifth generation could be an American F / B-22 based on the F-22, but the project was canceled. Russia, one must assume, initially saw the PAK FA as a two-seater aircraft: this version could have great export opportunities. But the export of the Su-57 has not yet "grown together", and the two-seater version, according to the latest data, can be used already for the needs of the Russian Aerospace Forces.
Figured out for two
In this regard, experts often ask the question: what prompted the creators to return to the scheme with two crew members?
After all, it is more expensive by default and affects the aircraft's flight performance. Not to mention the fact that the loss of two pilots at once is much more sensitive for the country. Even as large as the Celestial Empire.
The answer, perhaps, lies in the fact that two people can better use the huge data streams provided to them by the sensors that are literally stuffed with modern combat aircraft.
As the publication Market Research Telecast notes in the material about the two-seater J-20 (which drew attention to the web user under the nickname Fighterbomber), the second place is intended for the operator of guided air-to-surface ammunition and electronic warfare equipment. At the same time, the first pilot will maneuver and attack enemy aircraft using air-to-air missiles.
The presence of a two-seater version also significantly expands the possibilities for training pilots: regardless of the generation of machines in question.
However, upon closer examination, each of these points can hardly be called a serious reason for creating a conditionally "new" machine. In favor of this is the refusal of the United States from the two-seater "five".
With a high degree of probability, the J-20B has become a response to new challenges associated with UAVs. Rather, with the control of unmanned aerial vehicles and the concept of the so-called unmanned wingman, when one fighter should be accompanied by 2-4 dronecapable of solving, among other things, shock tasks.
Until recently, this was the prerogative of the West.
So, in February, the aircraft Loyal Wingman, created by the Australian division of Boeing, took off in the air, which will have to solve such problems.
However, China decided to catch up and overtake Australia and the United States.
At the recent Airshow China 2021 exhibition in Zhuhai, the Chinese showed a mock-up of the FH-97, which outwardly is almost indistinguishable from the American Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie experimental unmanned aerial vehicle. The latter is included in the program of the US Air Force Research Laboratory for the development of economical aviation LCAAT technologies. The task of the LCAAT vehicles is to accompany F-22 or F-35 fighters during combat missions, having on board both surveillance systems and weapon.
It is noteworthy that Russia followed the same path.
As already mentioned, they want to make one of the versions of the Su-57 two-seater. At the same time, it is increasingly being considered in conjunction with the new strike UAV "Okhotnik".
A two-seat command variant of the Su-57 will be created to control the latest Okhotnik drones. It is assumed that the fighter, which is already under development, will carry about four "Hunters"
- a source in the military-industrial complex told TASS recently.
Regarding the question of whether the photos and videos of the new two-seat fighter are genuine (in every sense of the word), we dare say that they are.
As The Drive rightly notes in "This Is Our First Look At A Two-Seat Variant Of China's J-20 Stealth Fighter," such "leaks" of data fit well with the established pattern, when the Chinese show more and more detailed images over time. samples of aircraft created by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group.
Problems in the past
There is no doubt that the PRC can create fifth-generation fighters, including two-seat ones. Engine problems that were clearly felt ten years ago are gradually disappearing into oblivion. Recently, at an air show in Zhuhai, the Chinese showed a J-20 fighter with WS-10C engines, created by the Celestial Empire. Earlier, we will remind, on these machines were Russian AL-31FN.
If we talk about aircraft weapons, then China is now at least at the level of Russia. And in terms of onboard electronics, it has probably bypassed it for a long time.
On the J-10C aircraft, for example, according to available data, an on-board radar with an active phased antenna array is installed, which is not found on the Su-30SM, or even on the Su-35S, the most powerful and most advanced Russian fighter among the mass.
At the same time, do not forget about the quantity: the same single J-20s have already produced about 150 units. Such agility can be the envy of even Americans, who have only a little more famous "Raptors".