Photos leaked online that appear to show a prototype of China’s first stealth fighter jet (J-20) were discussed in state media Wednesday a move that supports claims the country’s military aviation program is advancing faster than expected.
Both the English and Chinese language editions of the Global Times ran front-page articles on the photos of what appears to be a future J-20 fighter.
Analysis of the J-20 photos shows it to be larger than either the Russian or U.S. planes, likely allowing it fly farther and carry heavier weapons.
The Global Times did not comment on the authenticity of the pictures, but since the government wields extensive control over state media, the report’s appearance and the fact that censors have not removed images from websites suggest a calculated move to leak the information into the public sphere.
But the U.S. Defense Department said it wasn’t worried about the reports.
China is still years away from being able to field a stealth aircraft, despite the disclosure of images indicating that it appears to have a working prototype, a U.S. Navy official said on Wednesday.
“It is not of concern that they are working on a fifth-generation fighter,” Marine Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said, since the Chinese are “still having difficulties with their fourth-generation fighter.”