The Chengdu J-20, the PLA Air Force's first fifth-generation stealth fighter still has three major weaknesses to be overcome before it is ready to enter service, China's Global Times reports.
The first major weakness is the engine; China is currently unable to design and produce engines powerful enough for advanced fighters. The prototype J-20 currently has the Russian-built AL-31F engine. However, Chinese pilots flying J-10 fighters using the AL-31F have experienced several accidents related to its poor reliability.
Furthermore, if the PLA continues to rely on Russian-built engines, it will never be able to operate its fighter free from the influence of Moscow, Global Times said. The article suggested therefore that Chinese engineers should design their own engine through studying the Russian technology. This would be far from the first instance of Chinese engineers back-engineering Russian technology.
Second, the design of the J-20's fuselage seems unfitting. While the weapons bay has been designed large enough to carry various types of payload, the aircraft's wings appear too small. A lack of proper aerodynamic design configuration compromises the stealth capability and maneuverability of the J-20, the report said.
Finally, Global Times said the J-20's two engines are positioned too close with each other and could cause a dangerous vortex when both are running at high speed.
In sum, the J-20 is some way away from entering service, the report concluded, noting that in Western countries it is common for it to take between five and eight years between the design of a fighter prototype and the aircraft entering service.http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?cid=1101&MainCatID=11&id=20131222000104