A J-20 stealth fighter jet of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force performs during the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as Airshow China 2018, in Zhuhai city, south China's Guangdong province on November 6, 2018. (Imaginechina via Associated Press)

NEW YORK — China may declare its first stealth fighter operational this year as it also develops long-range bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons, part of a regional buildup by Beijing that the U.S. is closely monitoring, according to the U.S. Air Force's Pacific commander.

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On August 1st, China celebrated the founding of the People's Liberation Army by allowing some high-resolution photos of the next-generation J-20 stealth fighter to leak, complete with a tasteful photoshopped-on patriotic dragon painting just below the canopy which just screams "Happy Birthday, PLA."

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