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Third Combat Brigade of PLA Air Force Likely Receives Stealth Fighters

  • Published
  • China Aerospace Studies Institute

On 9 December the Dutch Aviation Society’s website Scramble reported that a J-20 bearing the serial number 61162 had been spotted the day before. The J-20 is the first and only fifth-generation fighter that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force operates. Judging from this serial number, the aircraft would belong to the 5th Aviation Brigade. The brigade would, therefore, be the third combat brigade of the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) to have received stealth fighters. Unfortunately, the report did not include an image of the aircraft or any other information that would enable one to determine the validity of the report. However, information lending credence to the report has since appeared. The fielding of more J-20s in yet another theater command suggests that the PLAAF is pursuing geographic distribution of the J-20. Although the total number of stealth fighters that the PLAAF possesses may still be low, by geographically distributing the J-20, the PLAAF will likely increase opportunities for units throughout the PLA to train with and against fifth-generation fighters.