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Is China about to give airpower hawks their best Christmas present ever?The internetz are buzzing (start here and here) with a picture that allegedly shows China's next-generation Chengdu J-20 fighter - the first known Chinese stealth aircraft - undergoing high-speed taxi trials, with rumors of a first flight within weeks. The picture appeared today on the very popular Chinese military fan web site Top81, apparently taken by a cell phone from a car. The bad news is that it makes 1950s shots of new MiGs and Sukhois look like Katsu Tokunaga material. Rumor has it that better shots have put in transient appearances on Chinese websites before being zapped by the censor. China military specialist and DTI contributor Rick Fisher notes that "in China's military fan web culture, the rapid intervention of the censors is always a boost for the credibility of the poster" and adds that his sources are also predicting an early first flight. "Such drip-by-drip revelations are apparently condoned or even encouraged by the PLA," Fisher adds. "One rarely hears any more of web posters going to 'drink tea', the Chinese euphemism for having your life upended by the military or party police."Overall, Fisher notes, "the web leaks will continue, as this feeds directly into the Communist Party's massive and well-stoked program to promote militaristic nationalism." Some people are speculating intensively about details such as diverterless inlets and all-moving tails, but as Fisher cautions, "like so much of the PLA, you just can't say for sure what it is until it's falling on your head."Update: The intel team is on high alert (via Pinko at Key Forums):Update 2: When what to my wondering eye should appear...Some observers on the boards are buying it, others say that it looks like a product of the Adobe OKB, involving digital miscegenation between an F-22 and the Sukhoi S-47 Berkut and some inspiration from the T-50. More to follow, I'm sure.
ar99, tacair, stealth, china
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