Chinese Air Force Releases Video Unveiling New J-20 Two-Seater Stealth Fighter
A two-seat variant of the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter and a J-20 version equipped with a domestically made engine was first spotted in official videos recently released by its developer and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), just days before the tenth anniversary Monday of the plane’s maiden flight.
A new two-seat variant of China’s J-20, the first of its kind, has emerged, introducing the world’s first “stealth” two-seat fighter.
The new plane was highlighted by the PLAAF, according to a Chinese newspaper, which added that the stealth fighter appears to run on a Chinese-made WS-10C engine.
“The two-seat variant of the J-20 could be used for electronic warfare, wing drone command or bombing, and the domestic engine means the J-20 no longer depends on Russian engines,” said the Global Times, supporting by the Chinese government. wrote, citing military analysts.
Adding a second seat to the 5th Gen Stealth Fighter raises some interesting questions, as it potentially adds new decision-making variables to aerial combat such as drone coordination, EW or intelligence analysis in the air. If connectivity is lost, blocked, disabled, or compromised in a combat situationcommand and control could at least temporarily disappearcreating a circumstance in which to have an extra set of human eyes, powers of observation, and decision-making ability could definitely provide a tactical advantage. While human eyes do not necessarily see farther, clearer, or better than advanced cameras, another person can introduce new variations of intelligence analysis.
This would be particularly relevant today, given the vastly increasing amount of information that can be collected, organized and transmitted through rapid computer processing and AI-enabled algorithms. Simply put, the volumes of information available to pilots are now exponentially greater than before. Computers, sensors and AI can of course gather, analyze and present otherwise separated data variables for human decision-makers, but how can all combat-relevant information be decided by a pilot potentially immersed in a dangerous environment? combat engagement. IT can perform more of the necessary collection, processing, organization and analysis of time-sensitive information, but it probably does not currently have the capacity to make some complex decisions. or nuanced such as those that might arise in combat.
Perhaps a second pilot, or airman, could oversee the operation of nearby drones, analyze and decide on an interwoven tapestry of threat information, or coordinate communication with nearby air and ground assets if the lead pilot was engaged in urgent combat duties.
Conversely, however, the same kind of technical argument could be made against any need to add another person into a stealth fighter cockpit. The Air Force, for example, recently flew an aircraft with a AI-enabled computer himself as a co-pilot, and unmanned combat aircraft capable of aerial combat, advanced maneuvering and surveillance have been developing for years. Although computers can ease the cognitive burden placed on potentially overloaded pilots, they can often fail when it comes to certain more subjective nuances or variables fundamental to decision-making.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the national interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a highly trained expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborn also worked as an on-air military anchor and specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a guest military pundit on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.