Chinese J-20 stealth fighter has now been inducted into all five of PLA theatre commands and is steadily replacing older generation aircraft.
Though the official number of J-20 jets in service has not been officially disclosed by the Chinese PLA, various estimates have put the number as between 250-300.
J-20’s maiden flight took place in 2011 and the PLA commissioned the first aircraft of this type in 2017.
Chen Liu, a delegate to the 20th CPC National Congress from the PLA and the Armed Police Force, was quoted as saying by state media at an event in Beijing on Monday that the J-20 “is now active in all five theater commands across the country.”
“This means that the J-20 has likely entered service with all Eastern, Southern, Western, Northern and Central Theater Commands of the PLA. It also indicates that China has produced enough J-20s to equip all theater commands with the aircraft,” Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, was quoted as saying by the Global Times.
China is a vast country with widely varied environments, leading to drastically different requirements to operate and maintain aircraft. The J-20 can now adapt to all kinds of climates and geographical conditions, being able to fly at sea and on plateaus, as well as in hot and cold regions, Fu added.
Western sources told Military Watch that over 150 J-20s were in service with the PLA in 2021. The report, published in April this year, estimated the figure to have gone up to 200.
The J-20 has switched to using domestically developed WS-10C engines by 2021, and it has participated in missions in the East China Sea, South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits by 2022, according to official releases by the PLA Air Force.