• China's new Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter

China's new Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter (Photo : Twitter)

China unveiled for the first time in public its new fifth generation jet fighter during the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition 2016 in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province.

A pair of the new Chengdu J-20 fighters made a flyby over thousands of spectators during the air show\s opening ceremonies on Tuesday, the Global Times reported. After the flyby, one of the fighters immediately left off into the distance, while the other place performed several turns before following its companion and ending the minute long display.

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The brief demonstration was met with cheers and applause from the audience. Meanwhile, a member of the Pakistani Air Force delegation described the J-20 first public flight as being "impressive."

While this is the first time that the Chinese air force showcased the J-20 to the public, images of the new fifth generation stealth fighter were first leaked online in 2010.

China is said to have developed the J-20 as a rival to the United States' own fighters, the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II.

The J-20 has been regularly compared to the F-22 due to their similar designs, particularly in the application of stealth technologies like reduced radar cross sections and the use of radar absorbent materials to further hide the planes from detection. Russia is the only other country with a fifth generation fighter in active development, the Sukhoi T-50.

However, World Military Affairs Magazine editor Chen Hu noted that, while there are similarities, the two planes being compared take on vastly different roles. He explained that the F-22 is designed primarily as an air-superiority fighter that is also meant to take down anti-air defenses.

On the other hand, the J-20 seems to be intended more as a bomber to tackle large ships like aircraft carriers. Chan said that the different roles are due to the two countries having different defense priorities.

Experts said that China is likely sending a signal to other countries with the public display of the new aircraft.

According to Sam Roggeveen of the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, the country is showing great confidence in the capabilities if the plane with the demonstration, Reuters reported.