Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jet has revealed a twin-seater variant besides indigenous WS-10 engines to replace its Russian-origin power plant on its tenth anniversary that fell on January 11.
The twin-seat variation of the J-20 could be used for electronic warfare, command of wingman drones or bombing, analysts were quoted as saying by Chinese media.
State-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) released a computer-generated video showing four twin-seat J-20s flying in formation last Friday, the first official depiction of this variant. The video did not elaborate on the twin-seat J-20 or its designed functions.
Once developed, it will make the aircraft the world's first twin-seat stealth jet.
By adding another seat to the cockpit, the aircraft could, in exchange for some level of stealth capability and maneuverability, carry a second pilot designated for more complicated tasks such as electronic warfare, command of wingman drones or tactical bombing, a Chinese military analyst was quoted as saying by Global Times.
Chinese media predicted the twin-seat J-20 could spawn more variations that are equipped with devices corresponding to these tasks.
Additionally, the Chinese media citing a video by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force reported that the Russian AL-31FM2/3 engines engines powering the J-20 are replaced by high-performance, high-thrust turbofan WS-10C engines. These new engines enable mass production of the aircraft without the limitation of imported engines.
The WS-10C engines will eventually use more powerful WS-15s which many observers believe is inspired or reverse-engineered from the Russian AL-31 engine that goes into the Su-35 fighter jet.