China has conducted the first test flight of its J-20 stealth fighter, Chinese President Hu Jintao has confirmed the authenticity of the report to US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.
The confirmation came after images of the 15-minute test flight in Chengdu appeared on several Chinese websites.
The US is currently the only nation with a fully operational stealth plane.
But both Russia and China are known to be working on prototypes of stealth fighters, which are invisible to radar.
Leaked images of what was said to be China’s J-20 fighter first appeared earlier this month during taxi tests at the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute.
On Tuesday, the plane took off and flew for about 15 minutes, according to eyewitness accounts published on unofficial Chinese web portals
A video clip of the flight was also posted on the web:
China says it expects the stealth plane to be operational sometime between 2017 and 2019.
Before the official confirmation from the president of China, pictures reportedly taken by fighter jet spotters had appeared on all major Chinese web portals, including the state-run Xinhua news agency.
There is also a video clip showing the stealth fighter taxi-ing, taking off and landing, accompanied by a trainer jet.
The spotters have been camped out near the fighter jet design institute in Chengdu, in south-west China. They have dubbed the prototype “Black Ribbon”, meaning black 4th generation fighter.
They also say that Xi Jinping, China’s Vice-President and Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission, visited the airfield on Saturday, presumably to witness a test flight that was aborted due to bad weather.