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China’s J‑20 Fighter Jet Has Both U.S. and Russian DNA

China has a long and established history of borrowing (or outright stealing) designs, technologies, and even entire aircraft from its competitors, and evidence suggests the nation’s premiere stealth fighter, the Chengdu J‑20 Mighty Dragon, is no exception. 

The J‑20 was the world’s first non-American stealth platform to enter operational service, effectively ending Uncle Sam’s 34-year monopoly on low-observability that stretched all the way back to 1983. As the J‑20 entered service, many within both the United States and Russia accused the People’s Republic of China of stealing their stealth fighter designs to hurry their own jet into service. 

There is certainly evidence and historical precedent to back up these assertions, but the J‑20 doesn’t look exactly like any other 5th generation entry. That’s likely not because the J‑20 is an entirely original design, however. It’s probably because the J‑20 steals elements from at least three different fighter programs. 

Related: How do the world’s stealth fighters really stack up?

China’s history of stealing fighter designs

Chengdu J‑20

China’s rapid military expansi …

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