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J-20 may have better ground attack capability than F-22

The J-20, China's prototype first fifth-generation stealth fighter, may have better ground attack capability than its US counterpart, a report from the Beijing Sina Military Network said after a photo of the newest version of the aircraft was released on the internet.

Judging from the photo of a J-20 with the serial number 2011, Sina Military Network said the electro-optical targeting system seen below the nose indicates that the fighter is designed mainly for ground attack. This is a similar design to American stealth fighters such as the F-22 and F-35. With stealth capability, the article said that J-20 can be a perfect bomber when used against a ground target.

Most missions carried out by American fighters such as the F-16 Falcon or F-15E Strike Eagle in Afghanistan and Iraq are against ground targets. The F-22 is also designed with the capability to attack ground targets with joint direct attack munitions and small diameter bombs. However, the F-22 may still be detected by enemy radar while tracking a moving ground target as its radar releases electromagnetic radiation.

After all 35 satellites of the second phase of China's Beidou Navigation System are sent into orbit, the J-20 will be able to launch precision attacks against ground targets like the F-22 as well, Sina Military Network said. Noting that the J-20 can carry four air-to-air missiles, the article also indicated that China is developing its own joint direct attack munitions and small diameter bombs for the stealth fighter.

The J-20 can carry a payload of up to 24 small diameter bombs compared to the F-22, which can carry about eight, Sina Military Network said. If the electro-optical targeting system can be used by fourth-generation fighters like the Su-30 and J-10, this would enhance the ground attack capability for these fighters from a longer distance, the report said.

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