China Joins the Stealth Club: China is conducting high-speed taxi tests on what appears to be a stealth aircraft dubbed the J-20. Photos taken from the fence line at the Chengdu aircraft plant in Sichuan province were allowed to circulate last week by China’s internet authority, meaning the Chinese want the world to know about it. The disclosure may have something to do with Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ upcoming China visit, set for Jan. 9-12. The aircraft is reminiscent of US stealth designs, resembling the nose of the F-22 and the inlets of the F-35. However, it also features canards and an empennage suggesting the abandoned Russian MiG I-42 fighter project, purportedly a stealth concept. The aircraft seems optimized for front-quarter low observability, as the tailcones are standard round exhausts; however, it’s not clear whether they are thrust-vectoring. It’s also impossible to tell what materials the Chinese may be using in the airframe, or what kind of radar might be under the nose, and wing-shaping details will have to wait on more photos. The aircraft seems not to be a concept demonstrator like the Russian S-37 Berkut, but a more mature and integrated design. The US Air Force had no comment on the new airplane, and referred queries to the State Department, a spokesman for which said, “I have nothing for you on that.”