China's Chengdu J-20 has been flown for the first time in public, as confirmed by numerous online reports, photos and video of the large, delta-winged aircraft getting airborne. Chinese President Hu Jintao also has confirmed the milestone.
According to reports from aviation enthusiasts in China, the new aircraft took off from Chengdu's facility at 12:50 local time and landed at 13:50, with the pilot having made a few passes over the airfield before landing.
Grainy photos of the new aircraft first appeared on Chinese web sites two weeks ago. These were followed by high-speed taxi tests that were captured on video by aviation enthusiasts.
The timing of the first flight event is interesting, because US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is now in China to discuss the two country's defence ties. Beijing has chafed at US weapons sales to Taiwan and surveillance activities by US aircraft and naval vessels.