Projecting its global power aspiration, China has been developing and deploying a range of weapons platforms which incorporate the latest technologies. China's People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) on September 3, 2019, released a video which showed seven 5th generation Chengdu J-20 stealth fighters, the country's largest formation of most advanced combat aircraft, flying.
According to Global Times, the video was aired on the occasion of a practice flight for China's 74th anniversary of the victory against Japan in 1945. Till the video surfaced, the J-20s, which joined the PLAAF in 2017, were seen flying in either pairs or groups of three only. The seven-plane formation has led western military experts to believe that China is deploying the J-20s at a much faster rate and may have several more 5th Generation fighters in its arsenal than expected.
"To truly achieve peace, defending our homeland is not enough. We must not only defend but attack," Chengdu's J-20 designer Yang Wei is seen speaking in the video according to Global Times. While the PLAAF has been extremely secretive about the J-20, the South China Morning Post news portal claims that at least 20 J-20 combat aircraft have been manufactured till August 2019. The video is seen as a statement by China that the J-20 is ready to face the adversary.
China claims that J-20 is at par with the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, the two 5th Generation stealth fighters built by the United States of America. Chengdu is also developing a naval version of J-20 to operate from China's aircraft carriers.
The video has come at a time when the USA has been selling the F-35 Lightning II, its latest and most potent 5th Generation stealth jet, to Japan and South Korea. Taiwan, which China considers as a rebel province, too has received 66 F-16V Vipers from the USA. The PLAAF had in February 2018 announced that the J-20 jet had joined active duty.