The prototype jet pictured in the leaked photos, known as a J-20, is notable because, like the US F-22, it would be undetectable by radar and antiaircraft defenses. The F-22 is currently the world’s only operational next-generation stealth fighter jet.
The pictures emerged only days before US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's visit to China planned for this weekend and a couple weeks before President Hu Jintao travels to the US to meet with President Obama, CNN reports.
The timing of the disclosure is no coincidence, some say, and hints at China's new approach to military power – deterrence – by broadcasting their growing capabilities, The New York Times reports.
These days, there is more muscle to show. A decade of aggressive modernization of China’s once creaky military is beginning to bear fruit, and both the Pentagon and China’s Asian neighbors are increasingly taking notice.