China To Develop Two Seater Variant J-20

A twin-seater version of China’s most advanced fighter jet the J-20 would be able to target enemy electronic equipment and operate in tandem with swarms of drones, according to a defence industry magazine.

The article, published by Chinese military magazine Ordnance Industry Science Technology, said the fifth-generation fighter would be expected to carry out more tasks as the technology evolved, and a second crew member would be needed to carry out some of those functions.

“The emergence of a twin-seat version of the J-20 is because the J-20’s mission has diversified and China needs a more capable fighter jet,” the article said. 

The article predicted that the J-20’s twin-seat version would be equipped with more advanced electronic equipment than is found in other Chinese twin-seaters.

“It’s a piece of cake for the J-20 to perform [electronic interference] duties because of its strong power supply capacity, fire-control radar and integrated avionics system,” the article said.Was China’s military modernisation driven by its ‘humiliation’ in 1996?

“We can imagine that the front pilot will be in charge of flying the aircraft, while the pilot sitting behind is in charge of controlling the electronic inference platform, making the J-20 a nightmare for enemy electronic equipment.”

The second crew member could also control a supporting fleet of pilotless aircraft. “The drones could be bait to attract enemy aircraft or draw in stealth aircraft … they can also gather intelligence, carry out attacks against air defence systems and gain air superiority,” the article said.SCMP Global Impact

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The article said Chinese engineers had gained experience from making a twin-seat version of the J-10, so it should be technologically feasible to make a twin-seat J-20.

The J-20, also known as the Mighty Dragon, is an all-weather stealth fighter with precision strike capabilities that entered service in 2017 but has been dogged by engine problems.

China has never officially disclosed the exact number of J-20s, but according to another article in the same issue of Ordnance Industry Science Technology, around 90 have been made so far. It added that around 400 or 500 would be needed to fulfil the country’s military needs.

Last week military insiders said purpose-built engines for the fighters, which were initially fitted with Russian-made engines, were expected to be ready within the next two years.

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