China’s Chengdu J-20 fighter jet has been spotted equipped with pylon adapters under its wings, indicating the stealth aircraft may also be able to enter a “beast mode” like the US’ F-35 fighter jet if needed by giving up some stealth capability in exchange for larger weapons loads. A J-20 prototype taking a test flight had two external pylon adapters, one under each side of its wings, and could carry a total of four extra missiles. The stealth aircraft hide their weapons in bays to keep a low radar profile, making them difficult to be detected, and using external pylons to carry weapons will make them less stealthy but more powerful. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) J-20 can carry at least four PL-15 missiles in its main weapon bay and two PL-10 short-range combat missiles in its side weapon bays, when not using external adapters.
The main weapon bay is capable of housing both short and long-range air-to-air missiles (AAM) (PL-9, PL-12C/D &PL-15 – PL-21) while the two smaller lateral weapon bays behind the air inlets are intended for short-range AAMs (PL-10). These side bays allow closure of the bay doors prior to firing the missile, thus allowing the missile to be fired in the shortest time possible as well as enhancing stealth. The J-20 is reported to lack an internal autocannon or rotary cannon, suggesting the aircraft is not intended to be used in short range dogfight engagements with other aircraft but engage them with from long standoff ranges with missiles such as the PL-15 and PL-21. The fighter is able to carry four medium/long range AAMs in main bay and short-range missile one in each lateral weapon bay of the aircraft.
The Chengdu J-20 (Jiān-Èrlíng), also known as Mighty Dragon (Wēilóng), is a single-seat, twinjet, all-weather, stealth, fifth-generation fighter aircraft developed by China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation for the PLAAF. The J-20 is designed as an air superiority fighter with precision strike capability; it descends from the J-XX program of the 1990s. The J-20 has a long and wide fuselage, with a chiseled nose section and a frameless canopy. Immediately behind the cockpit are low observable intakes. All-moving canard surfaces with pronounced dihedral are placed behind the intakes, followed by leading edge extensions merging into the delta wing with forward-swept trailing edges. The aft section has twin outward canted all-moving fins, short but deep ventral strakes, and conventional round engine exhausts.