The newest addition to China’s air force, the J-20 stealth fighter, will make its first public flight this week.
But the fighter jet’s first outing could be controversial, with previous reports claiming the J-20’s design comes from stolen plans obtained by hackers.
The claims have been firmly denied by the Chinese.
Earlier this year, a Chinese national, 51-year-old Su Bin, was sent to prison for his part in stealing US military plans and sending documents to Beijing.
The documents were reported to include plans for the F-35 and F-22 fighter jets, which would have enabled the Chinese military to rapidly catch up with US capabilities.
The new Chinese war plane will take to the skies during the Zhuhai Air Show, its manufacturer announced today, as Beijing flexes its long-range military muscles.
The J-20, ‘which military enthusiasts at home and abroad have watched closely’, will make its first public flight demonstration, said Tan Ruisong, the president of China’s state aerospace company AVIC.
China trailed the world in aerospace technology 20 years ago, he told a press conference, but is now at the leading edge.
Swift, stealthy, and armed with long-range missiles, the new J-20s represent a leap forward in China’s ability to project power in Asia and compete in capabilities with the United States.
Beijing is seeking to modernise and upgrade its military both to protect its borders and project power into regions such as the South China Sea, a resource-rich waterway where it has disputes with several neighbours.
China’s only international aerospace exhibition, held biennially in the southern city of Zhuhai, this year boasts its largest-ever display of military hardware and aircraft, with 11 exhibition halls, 430,000 square metres of indoor and outdoor viewing area, and 151 aircraft from 700 exhibitors from 42 countries and regions.
The show will also see the debut of the Y-20 transport aircraft, which can move heavy loads and carry out airlifts to assist military activities.
Chinese-made military assault vehicles, anti-aircraft missile systems, drones and fighter jets stood on display outside the exhibition centre.
AVIC chief Tan said his company had business in 80 countries and territories, with annual overseas sales exceeding 80 billion yuan ($11.8bn / £9.7bn).
The firm will firmly remember its ‘sacred mission’ to serve China, he said.
It would carry out the strategic plan of the Communist party, the government and the People’s Liberation Army and ‘closely unite around the core leadership of comrade Xi Jinping’.
AVIC, which earlier this year acquired British cabin interior supplier AIM Altitude, would ‘persistently struggle’ to realise the dream of a great Chinese air force and a strong military, he added.