London, Jan 24(ANI): China built the radar-evading Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter jet by using technology gleaned from a downed F-117 Nighthawk, a stealth ground attack aircraft formerly operated by the United States Air Force, military officials have claimed.
China had earlier this month confirmed that it held its first test-flight of the state-of-the-art jet.
Military officials believe that China developed the stealth technology from parts of the American fighter jet that was shot down over Serbia in 1999.
During NATO's aerial bombing of the country during the Kosovo war, a Serbian anti-aircraft missile had shot the Nighthawk.
The pilot ejected, and was rescued, but the wreckage was strewn over a wide area of farmland.
"At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents crisscrossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the plane from local farmers," the Daily Mail quoted Admiral Davor Domazet-Loso, Croatia's Army Chief during the Kosovo war, as saying.
"We believe the Chinese used those materials to gain an insight into secret stealth technologies and to reverse-engineer them," he added.
A senior Serbian military official confirmed that pieces of the wreckage were removed by souvenir collectors, and that some ended up "in the hands of foreign military attaches".
The US F-22 Raptor is currently the only operational stealth fighter in the world, while Russia's Sukhoi T-50 is expected to enter active service in the next four years.
The J-20 is a single-seat, twin-engine aircraft, which appears to be somewhat larger and heavier than F-22 Raptor and Sukhoi T-50.
Earlier, a prominent Australian freelance defence analyst, Carlo Kopp, had suggested that the J-20's overall stealth shaping is "without doubt considerably better" than the F-35 and Sukhoi PAK FA, and may be eventually comparable to the F-22. (ANI)