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J-20 takes flight
Further ahead indeed...

Numerous pictures of the Chinese Chengdu J-20 Black Eagle stealth fighter have surfaced online over the last few weeks. The aircraft has been seen conducting taxi tests at the southwest China Plant 132 facility. Plant 132 is the designation for Chengdu Aircraft reports Defense News.

After government officials initially dismissed the J-20, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted recently that the Chinese "may be somewhat further along" than was previously believed. As Gates is in China for talks with the Chinese government a new report comes out that the J-20 made its first flight. The maiden flight had reportedly been set for January 7, but poor weather forced the flight to be cancelled. 

According to Chinese media, the chase aircraft on the test flight was a Chengdu J-10S Vigorous Dragon fighter. Defense News reports that the test flight will surprise some analysts who though the aircraft wasn’t ready for flight. The maiden flight of the J-20 lasted 18 minutes and was conducted on January 11.

The first flight of the aircraft may be used as a bargaining chip by Taiwan to urge the U.S. to release 66 newer F-16C/D fighters that were requested. The aircraft have been on hold since 2006 due to Chinese pressure on the U.S. to not offer more military aid to Taiwan.

Chinese Minister for National Defense Gen. Liang Guanglie said, "On that, China's position has been clear and consistent - we are against it." He also said, "Because United States arms sales to Taiwan seriously damaged China's core interests and we do not want to see that happen again, neither do we hope that the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will again and further disrupt our bilateral and military-to-military relationship."

The F-16 aircraft that Taiwan wants aren’t likely to be approved by the U.S., but upgrades for the F16A/B fighters Taiwan may get a green light.

Updated 1/12/2011 @ 7:35am EST

Video has been posted of the J-20's first flight. The taxi/liftoff occurs around the 3:06 mark.

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RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By MGSsancho on 1/11/2011 5:16:50 PM , Rating: 0
military craft are not stable at slow speeds. they need to get up to speed as quickly as possible before their more than 50' off the ground. full after-burner is very common, fyi the sr-71 took off with full after-burner and had to refuel after take off.

RE: Please don't be so sure it is a fighter.
By fredgiblet on 1/11/2011 9:16:58 PM , Rating: 3
The SR-71 was a special case. It's engines were hybrid turbojet/ramjets with the turbojets made as small (and thus weak) as possible while still getting them into the air so that they didn't disrupt the ramjets once it got up to speed. They had to take off at full power with a very light fuel load and then refuel in the air because their main engines were intentionally underpowered. IIRC they also had to go into a dive to break the sound barrier before their ramjets would start working and allow them to begin rapid acceleration.

By 67STANG on 1/13/2011 7:17:30 PM , Rating: 3
Wasn't it because they leaked fuel from their airframe until it was properly heated? It had to be constructed this way because of there was no way to seal the fuel system that could handle the high heat that the aircraft was exposed to. Once everything was nice and toasty and they weren't losing fuel to leakage, they were refueled in the air to begin their mission. Sounds a bit crazy, but this was insane technology in the 60's. The 60's!

By the way, the company that I work for made the engines for the SR-71 =)

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