J-20 to become the first twin-seat fifth-generation fighter?
In a promotional video, the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) unveiled renders of a two-seater version of the J-20, confirming the intention to develop such a variant.
A twin-seat variant offers several advantages, with the inclusion of a navigator. The J-20 could then carry out missions ranging from electronic warfare, precision strikes in a contested environment, or even controlling a swarm of “loyal wingmen.”
If this version goes into production, it would make the Chinese aircraft the first fifth-generation fighter jet to exist in a twin-seat version. Lockheed Martin initially had plans to develop an F-22 Raptor featuring two seats, but the variant was dropped due to budgetary constraints.
Another competitor could come, however, in the shape of the Su-57. Indeed, in December 2020, Andrey Yelchaninov, Member of the Board of the Military-Industrial Commission of the Russian Federation, told Interfax that a two-seater version of the fighter was being studied, both for the needs of the Russian forces and for potential export customers.
The promotional video, released for the 10th anniversary of the aircraft’s maiden flight, also presents the J-20 with two domestically made WS-10C engines. Advertised as more powerful than the Russian Saturn AL-31F currently equipping the aircraft, it would also allow China to no longer rely on its neighbor.
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