They could be the products of a Chinese government misinformation campaign. They could be clever Photoshop jobs by Chinese aviation fanboys. Or they could be the real thing: the first hard evidence of the long-rumored Chengdu J-20, China's first stealth-fighter prototype.
The photos and several others surfaced over the Christmas weekend on Chinese Internet forums, catching the eye of Aviation Week fighter guru Bill Sweetman. Sweetman, a noted skeptic in the sometimes enthusiastic world of fast-jet journalism, stressed that the pics might be fakes. Fantastical Photoshop art is a hallmark of Chinese military-themed Websites. See the giant, flying "heli-carrier," or the submarine flattop - both creations of over-excited Chinese Photoshoppers.
Most convincingly, the airplane depicted in the snapshots apparently has many of the right characteristics for a fifth-generation stealth-fighter prototype: a chiseled front-section, triangular wings, all-moving tailplanes. In fact, the supposed J-20 seems to combine the front fuselage of the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 with the back half of Russia's T-50 stealth prototype, which appeared a little less than a year ago.
Im telling you, China is gearing up for a fight.
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