An internet image of the J-20 stealth fighter of China.
BEIJING (PTI): China has operationalised its first stealth aircraft and tested it in the rugged Tibet region for its endurance in high altitude, a development that will have major implications for India.
A video footage from state-run CCTV Channel 7 on March 10 showed the J-20 fighters joining the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) with Y-20 transport planes and H-6K bombers.
CCTV did not say how many J-20 fighter jets were serving in the air force, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported last week.
The average height of Tibet Autonomous Region is more than 4,000 m above the sea level, for which Tibet is known as the 'roof of the world'.
J-20 fighters is regarded as major breakthrough for China which is moderninsing its military in a big way.
The airing of the video coincides with the current annual session of China's Parliament.
Highlighting the J-20 features, an official in the PLAAF told media in Zhuhai last year that "J-20 contains many of China's top technologies in stealth aircraft plus other military secrets."
"The secrets include the J-20's body shape, the proportion of its wing and body and other secrets as aircraft experts can easily calculate its stealth parameters from its exterior," the official was quoted as saying.
However, experts said perhaps a small number of aircraft may have been made ready.
Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said that it was likely that just a small number of J-20 jets had been produced due to engine problems.
"The J-20 has not yet entered mass production progress, and now just a few limited aircraft are able to serve in the air force, similar to the Y-20," he said.
Earlier, the J-20 which was displayed at China's biggest air show at Zhuhai last November made waves in India when its photographs at an airport in Tibet were published.
But subsequently the Chinese military has discounted that J-20 will be deployed in Tibet along the India-China border.
Reacting to the media report "China's stealth fighter J-20 spotted at the Daocheng Yading Airport in Tibet", an article on the PLA website in September last year said the plane will be put into service soon but the 'China-India border is apparently not the ideal place for its deployment'.
"In addition, the world's highest airport there does not have a complete set of supporting facilities and such shortage will impede the function of J-20," the report had said.
"J-20 will not be deployed in Daocheng Yading airport as the airport is too close to the border and it is vulnerable to India's first wave hit. If India is to deploy BRAHMOS missile on the China-India border, then the Daocheng Yading airport will likely to become its target," it said.
"Experts pointed out that for India, China is undoubtedly its largest opponent and therefore every move of the Chinese military will touch the nerve of Indian media. However, the Indian military has more movements than China along the China-India border," it said.
Also Pakistan, the largest importer of Chinese arms, has said earlier that it is in talks with China to buy the FC-31 – an export variant of the same aircraft.
The FC-31 was briefly flown in the 2014 Zhuhai airshow.