China’s Chengdu J-20 fifth generation air superiority fighter has continued to dominate headlines since its entry into service in March 2017, years before Western analysts predicted it would be ready for combat, and recent information indicates that approximately 100 of the elite combat jets could already have left production lines. The J-20 represents the first fifth generation stealth fighter to enter service outside the United States, and is a direct analogue to the American F-22 Raptor which entered service in 2005. The twin engine combat platform’s airframe was designed to facilitate a long range, high weapons payload, high operational altitude, high speed and high manoeuvrability - thus optimising it for high end air to air combat missions in the same way as the Raptor. The J-20 is one of three Chinese fighters which have become part of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force’s new generation - alongside the ‘4++ generation’ J-10C light multirole fighter and J-16 strike fighter - aircraft with comparable electronic warfare systems, avionics and weapons systems but lacking the J-20’s advanced radar cross section reducing profile. These three jets between them fulfil highly complementary roles, and the synergy between them will provide the PLA with a considerably more capable fighting capability than the sum of its parts ever could.&nbsp;Based on the considerable investments the PLA was seen to be making in expansion of J-20 production facilities across the country from early 2017, the majority of which are reported to have begun to manufacture the fifth generation fighters, the aircraft can today be said to be entering service at a very high rate - likely at a higher rate than the American F-22 Raptor did during its own brief production run. The Raptors were in mass production for little over four years from 2005 to 2009 - in which time approximately 180 were manufactured. The fighters’ immense expense, with each estimated to cost close over $700 million over its lifetime, combined with a considerably reduced order for the fighters and a lack of urgency to begin production at a time when American primacy appeared unchallenged, meant that they were manufactured at a relatively low rate of approximately 40 per year.&nbsp;China by contrast is reportedly planning to deploy the J-20 in far larger numbers than the U.S. Air Force did for the F-22, and unlike the United States in the mid 2000s the East Asian state perceives a very real threat to its territorial integrity and a major challenge to its ability to dominate airspace - due to the advanced capabilities of its potential adversaries. With several hundred American made next generation fighters deploying to the Asia-Pacific, including large numbers of Raptors, it is viewed&nbsp; as imperative for China to produce large numbers of J-20 fighters to maintain qualitative parity in the air.&nbsp; In addition, the J-20 is estimated to come at a fraction of the cost of the F-22 Raptor - a similar price to the lighter F-35A single engine stealth jet. The result is that the production rate of the J-20 is likely to be considerably greater than than of the F-22 - likely comparable to that of the F-35 which saw over 90 units coming off production lines in 2018 alone. This would make the figure of approximately 100 J-20 fighters in service a highly realistic one.&nbsp;Further indicating that the J-20 is being manufactured in large numbers, the PLA Air Force has begun a sizeable recruitment campaign for next generation fighter pilots. The recruitment drive is under way in 31 of the mainland's 33 provincial administrative areas, and the large demand for next generation fighter pilots strongly indicates that the J-20 is being manufactured on a considerable scale. One of the traits the PLA is best known for is its ability to manufacture high end munitions on a large scale, much as the Soviet Union previously did with its own elite combat jets such as the MiG-31. Given China’s large defence budget, well over $100 billion dollars, and its proven ability to organise large scale high tech manufacturing programs in an extremely short time period from smartphones to destroyer warships, the PLA is well placed to fund and oversee large scale production of the J-20.