If my memory serve me right, that is not unexpected way back in 2009 the then vice commander of PLAAF General He Weirong predict that they will induct the J 20 by 2017-2018 So it is right on the button .More amazing, and very steady progress by the PLAAF on their J-20, fifth generation aircraft.
Congrats and kudos to them.
In January 2011, we had the 1st aircraft fly. Here's the history of the first nine aircraft.
- May 2012, second prototype first flight
2011 - M
2001 - January 11, 2011 first flight
arch 1, 2014, 3rd prototype first flight
2012 - July 26, 2014, 4th prototype first flight
2014 - November 28, 2014 5th prototype first flight
2015 - December 19, 2014 6th prototype 1st flight
2016 - September 2015, 7th prototype flies
2017 - November 2015, 8th prototype flies
2101 - December 2015, 9th aircraft unveiled and tested. (May be 1st production aircraft)
This is GREAT progress.
To accomplish this in much progress in five years is very impressive and the PRC is showing off its capability in bringing advanced aircraft forward. What the US Defense Secretary foolishly said in 2010 would not even be initially introduced until 2020, for initial operational capability perhaps by the 2026-2027 time period is being eclipsed...totally..
One has to expect initial production has started, and that handing aircraft over to the PLAAF to work them up to IOC will begin...perhaps in 2016, for an IOC date now as early as late 2017! They are going to come in nine or ten years earlier than forecast by the US SECDEF.
Embarassing...but not wholly unexpected for this particular US administration IMHO.
But amazing and well worth praise for this PRC administration.
Again, kudos and congratulations for amazing achievements here by the PRC.
It is the western analyst/press with their penchant as always underestimate the Chinese capability that were way off their mark.
I guess the link has since went dead But excerpt is still available from the net
The Chengdu J-20 (Jian-20; simplified Chinese: 歼-二 十; traditional Chinese: 殲-二十; pinyin: Jiān èr shí) is a fifth-generation, stealth, twin-engine fighter aircraft prototype being developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group for the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The J-20 made its first flight on 11 January 2011. General He Weirong, Deputy Commander of the People's Liberation Army Air Force said in November 2009 that he expected the J-20 to be operational in 2017--2019.