Observers at the 611 Institute airfield at Chengdu were treated to the first glimpses of the long-predicted second prototype (2002) of the Chengdu J-20 stealthy fighter early this month. In the days that followed the aircraft undertook a number of high-speed taxi trials, culminating in a first flight on May 16.
Days before, the first prototype (2001) is reported to have deployed to the Chinese flight-test establishment at Yanliang near the city of Xian, signaling the beginning of a new phase of flight trials. Once factory trials have been completed, the second aircraft is expected to join the first-born at Yanliang.
The second aircraft exhibits no major differences from prototype 2001, which first flew on January 11 last year, apart from the relocation of the nose pitot probe to the extreme tip of the radome, rather than being mounted above it. At this stage of the program, however, it is unlikely either aircraft has radar installed.
The second prototype also appears to have some undercarriage modifications: all photos of 2001 show it with the doors left open when the main landing gear is deployed, whereas 2002 can close its doors.