China's J-20 stealth jet, believed to be a copycat design of the US-made F-35, is now duplicating its non-stealth feature - to carry weapons on external pylons.
The F-35 and J-20 carry missiles and bombs in an internal weapons bay to avoid radar detection. However, for some missions requiring heavier weapons load, these are mounted on external pylons, at the expense of stealth.
On Monday, local media posted photograph showing a J-20 prototype undergoing a test flight with two external pylon adapters, one under each side of its wings.
The Chinese jet previously had the capacity to carry four PL-15 missiles in its main weapons bay and two PL-10 short-range missiles in its side weapons bay. The external adapters will enable the jet to carry four more missiles.
Based on the mission, different types of loadouts can be chosen. “Beast mode” with more munitions can be activated in low-risk and low-threat missions.
In addition, the Chinese media speculated that the J-20 fighters could also carry external fuel tanks for extended range.
The J-20’s sensor system also looks similar to the F-35’s Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) in terms of shape and placement. In 2007, Chinese hackers allegedly stole technical documents related to the F-35 from Lockheed Martin.
Daniel Coats, in a congressional testimony published in May 2017, named Russia, China, Iran and North Korea as “Cyber Theat Actors.”
“Adversaries will continue to use cyber operations to undermine U.S. military and commercial advantage by hacking into U.S. defense industry and commercial enterprises in pursuit of scientific, technical, and business information,” Coats stated.
“Examples include theft of data on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, and the MV-22 Osprey. In addition, adversaries often target personal accounts of government officials and their private-sector counterparts. This espionage reduces cost and accelerates the development of foreign weapon systems, enables foreign reverse-engineering and countermeasures development, and undermines U.S. military, technological, and commercial advantage.”