People’s Liberation Army Air Force Aircraft are to be painted with “low observable” coatings that will make them harder to detect.
Chinese military aircraft are to be painted with “low observable” coatings and standardized markings under new guidelines.
The guidelines require markings including the national flag and service insignia to be gradually standardized on both active and future warplanes, the official PLA Daily newspaper said earlier this month.
According to South China Morning Post, the move comes two years after the Chinese navy started experimenting with its J-16 strike fighter, using a dark grey low-visibility coating instead of blue-grey, and replacing its service insignia with a new design, according to military magazine Ordnance Industry Science Technology.
Some of the navy’s only active aircraft carrier-based fighter jets, the J-15s, have also been given new coatings and markings, according to the People’s Liberation Army’s official website.
PLA Daily said the move aimed to give Chinese warplanes a combat advantage as they “will be less likely to be detected by both the naked eye and military radar”. It said the new guidelines would be gradually implemented this year.
A military insider in Beijing said the US move to send hundreds of its new-generation F-35 stealth fighter jets to South Korea and Japan had also pushed the PLA to upgrade the coatings on its aircraft.
“These coatings are a highly technical area, and China puts a tremendous amount of resources into research on this every year,” said the insider, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. “The coating that’s used on China’s first stealth fighter jet, the J-20, is more advanced than they used on the Lockheed Martin F-22s, but it’s not yet at the level of the F-35s.”