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Chinese J-20 aircraft now capable of aerial refuelling

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force's most advanced stealth fighter jet, the J-20, is now ready for aerial refuelling operations that will help the jet reach farther targets, as national television showcased the aircraft's embedded refuelling probe on Tuesday, May 02.

Chinese J 20 aircraft now capable of aerial refuelling A pixilated picture of the fuel-receiving probe of the J-20, popping out from the right side of the cockpit (Picture Source: CCTV)

The J-20 is equipped with a fuel-receiving probe on the right side of the cockpit, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Tuesday.

Embedded under the fuselage, the probe only pops up when the fighter jet conducts an aerial refuelling mission. When the refuelling is completed, the probe is retracted into the fuselage, according to a video released by CCTV in the report.

"A fixed-probe installed outside of the fuselage, like the one on the J-10 fighter jet, will significantly increase the aircraft's radar cross-section, making it easier to be spotted by enemy radar," an expert told the Global Times, asking not to be named.

The CCTV report quoted an unnamed People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force officer as saying that being able to refuel in the air enables the J-20 to operate in a wider range. Replenishing fuel in the air will allow J-20 to fly much farther and reach targets it otherwise could not, the expert said, noting that the J-20 is an aggressive weapon, and endurance is a very important factor for it to fulfil its role.

Chinese military experts believe that the J-20 can now rival the US' top fighter jets, the F-22 and F-35, after witnessing its performance at the air show, which is also said to be a PLA display of confidence to foreign countries.