China’s latest J-20 stealth fighters have been commissioned into air force combat service, a spokesperson confirmed Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.
“It marks an important step for the J-20 to have comprehensive combat capabilities,” said Shen Jinke, spokesman for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force.
Since the fighters have been commissioned into the combat units, the air force has made steady progress in the training of pilots, he said.
According to the spokesman, J-20 played a vital role in the air force’s Red Sword 2017 exercise and laid a foundation for the enhancement of its new war capacities.
“The stealth jets will improve the air force’s comprehensive fighting ability and enable it to better safeguard China's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,” Shen remarked.
The J-20 (photo) is China’s fourth-generation medium and long-range fighter jet. It made its maiden flight in 2011 and was first shown to the public at the 11th Airshow China in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, in November 2016.
The fighters made their parade debut when the PLA marked its 90th anniversary in July 2017 at Zhurihe military training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
On Wednesday, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force also announced that China has recently sent Su-35 fighter jets for a joint combat patrol mission in the South China Sea area.
The deployment is expected to improve the air force’s adaptive capacity in complicated situation in the air and on the sea, and enhance its ability to maintain national sovereignty and security and maritime interests in the South China Sea area, said Wang Mingzhi, a professor with the PLA Air Force Command Academy.
The patrol mission is an annual training of combat readiness, embodying the air force's resolution to implement mission in the new era and firmly maintain national sovereignty and security and maritime interests, Wang said in an interview with Xinhua.
The air force will further increase real combat training on the sea and enhance the real combat capability especially under long-distance and high-sea conditions, he said.
Wang said that the air force will often carry out patrol missions and normalize the patrol in the South China Sea area.