China's J-20 stealth fighter jet has been equipped with a retractable refueling probe embedded on the right side of the cockpit, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Tuesday.
Embedded under the fuselage, the probe only pops up when the fighter jet conducts an aerial refueling mission. When the refueling is completed, the probe is retracted into the fuselage, a video released by CCTV on Tuesday showed.
The retractable probe will help maintain the aircraft’s stealth characteristics as a pointed objected sticking out of the fuselage as in non-stealth aircraft, will expose the aircraft to enemy radar.
On Sunday the J-20 displayed its missiles for the first time at the Airshow China 2018 in Zhuhai. The missiles were kept in the aircraft's missile bays and were only shown when the bay doors were open.
The PLA Air Force's aerial refueling tankers like the HU-6 can be used to refuel the J-20.
The J-20’s chief designer, Yang Wei, was quoted as saying at the Airshow China 2018 last week "First, the J-20 has outstanding stealth capability; second, it has outstanding long-range strike capability; third, it has outstanding capability in information warfare," Yang had said in comments quoted by CCTV.
The long range refueling capability will help China to better patrol and the South China sea and some islands located there which it claims as its own. However, other claimants such as Japan, South Korea too have aerial refueling capability which in a way balances out China’s military advantage with its J-20s.