China will unveil its new generation J-20 stealth fighter jet at an air show next week, the first public showing of a warplane China hopes will narrow the military gap with the United States.
The ability to project air power is key for China as it takes on a more assertive stance on territorial disputes with neighbors in the East China and South China seas. The Pentagon has said the fifth generation stealth aircraft China is developing, the J-20 and the J-31, are necessary for China’s air force to evolve from a mostly territorial force to one that can carry out both offensive and defensive operations.
The J-20 will give a flight demonstration at next week’s China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in the southern city of Zhuhai, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force said in a statement on its official microblog. Air force spokesman Shen Jinke said the J-20’s production was proceeding according to plan and would assist in the air force’s mission to “safeguard sovereignty and national security”.
The new Y-20 military transport aircraft will also give a flight demonstration at the seven-day air show, which is held every two years and opens on Tuesday. China showed off the J-31 at the last Zhuhai air show in 2014, a show of muscle that coincided with a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama for an Asia-Pacific summit.China hopes the J-31, still in development, will compete with the U.S.-made F-35 stealth aircraft in the international market, according to China military watchers and state media reports.