As movement across China and Russia continue to alarm US intelligence, the Department of Defense (DoD) is now looking for a stealthy target drone system that will ideally combat J-20s and Su-57s.

The Sukhoi Su-57 is a Russian twin-engine stealth multirole fighter aircraft capable of aerial combat and maritime strikes. It is lauded for its super maneuverability, integrated payload capacity, and supercruise features. Russia has used the Su-57 multiple times, including during the Ukraine-Russia war attacks.

Though the Su-57 development has been going on for years, Russia has every intention to triple their production of these Sukhoi-produced fighters. New facilities are getting opened for testing new fighter systems and equipment, according to the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). There will be expansions on multiple locations so UAC can fulfill another order of 76 stealth fighter Su-57s. There will also be regions for testing fuel tanks, engines, and avionics. UAC is preparing a new building where they will develop electroplating, heat treatment, and machining of the components.

On the other hand, the Chinese Chengdu J-20 is another stealth fighter jet the US is watching out for. It is known for its air superiority and long history. Unlike the newer Su-57s (on its 5th generation now), the J-20s have been in production since the late 1900s through the J-XX program. The J-20 has undergone several revisions on its prototypes, including stealth coating, redesigned vertical stabilizers, and updated low-observable intake and payload capacity.

In October 2017, the final version of the J-20 was finalized and approved for mass production. By 2019, the J-20s were already running through Chinese air and had been integrated with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLA Air Force) training.

The Chinese also used the Su-57 for their aerial combat training, but in January 2021, it was reported that they have decided to completely replace the Russian engines with the J-20 stealth fighters, showing how confident China is when it comes to the aircraft’s speed and firepower.

PLAAF J-20 Stealth Fighter (Source: L.G. Images/Flickr)

The J-20 has an extended fuselage and sharp nose section that allows it to reach top speeds while being maneuverable in battle. Its aft section has twin outward canted fins and deep ventral strakes partnered with a low-observable engine exhaust.

One of the top features of the J-20 design is its high instability, requiring it to have a sustained pitch authority at high angle attack.