China announced Friday that its latest J-20 stealth fighter and large transport aircraft Y-20 have flown in formation, which military experts say shows the aircraft are combat-ready.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force's new state-of-the-art weapons have developed significantly in the past five years. China's J-20 and Y-20 have begun training together, and many pilots are able to fly other new types of fighters, Shen Jinke, spokesman of the PLA Air Force, said Friday ahead of 68th anniversary of the PLA Air Force on Saturday.
Shen called on the 400,000 Air Force troops to "stay true to the mission" taken up by the Communist Party of China 95 years ago, resolutely safeguard the core, bear in mind the mission of the new era and improve their ability to win the war, according to the Air Force's Weibo account.
"The formation flights of the J-20 and Y-20 mean that their designs have been finalized, are ready for mass production and are combat-ready," Song Zhongping, a Phoenix TV commentator and military expert, told the Global Times Friday.
Training in formation is the aircrafts' second phase, with the first being standalone flights, Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times Friday.
The J-20, a stealth fighter jet independently developed by China, was officially commissioned on September 28. The aircraft is the country's fourth-generation medium-to-long- range fighter jet, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The Y-20, which made its maiden flight in July 2016, has a maximum takeoff weight of 200 tons, and is ideal for transporting cargo and personnel over long distances in diverse weather conditions, Xinhua reported.
Many pilots are able to fly new types of fighters, which means a few units of the PLA Air Force have multiple fighters and pilots who can fly different types of fighters. Previously, Chinese fighter pilots could only fly a single type, Zhang Jingting, deputy director of the Chinese Flight Test Establishment, told the Global Times on Friday.
"The ability to fly different types of fighters could benefit the development and operational performance of weapons," Zhang said.
Shen said that the PLA Air Force has expanded its range. The Air Force has broken through The First Island Chain, and flown over several straits and into the western Pacific. And China has hastened construction of an air defense anti-missile system to face the new air threats and changes in combat mode.
China's combat capability has greatly improved in the past five years with the addition of new types of aircraft, such as refueling planes and alarm-jamming ones, Xu told the Global Times.