In a major show of strength China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) sent its J-20 stealth fighter jets for their first-ever combat training over the sea. The J-20 fighters took to the skies over the sea sometime in early May 2018 as China demonstrated that its forces were combat ready even as tensions with Taiwan and some other neighbours rose.
The J-20 stealth fighters "will help the air force better fulfill its sacred duty of safeguarding China's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity," PLAAF spokesperson and Senior Colonel Shen Jinke was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
The officer posted on PLAAF's official blog that J-20 jets took part in a drill in "actual war conditions" to "further upgrade the air force's combat capabilities". According to Shen the J-20 had earlier taken part in war games with other Chinese fighters like J-16 and J-10c.
In the recent months, the Chinses forces have been aggressive in the seas. The PLAAF has flown its strategic bombers close to Taiwan and the Chinese Army also conducted a live-fire drill in the Taiwan Strait in April 2018.
Chinese military officials claim that even Taiwan's most advanced fighters like the F-16 and the Mirage 2000 will be no match for the J-20 as the former are fourth generation aircraft without stealth capabilities, unlike the latter which is invisible to radars.
The J-20 is China's answer to the American fifth-generation stealth fighters like F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. However, western defence experts claim that J-20 is a fourth-generation medium and long-range fighter with an inferior engine compared to the US stealth fighters.
However, China's other rivals like Japan and South Korea have the US F-35A Lighting II in their arsenal. Japan will in the next six years have 62 F-35 A Lighting II jets. Japan is also in talks with Lockheed Martin to develop an advanced jet which will combine the capabilities of both the F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lighting II. South Korea also plans to have 60 F-35A Lighting II in its air force.