Photos leaked online that appear to show a prototype of China's first stealth fighter jet were discussed in state media Wednesday - a move that supports claims the country's military aviation program is advancing faster than expected.
Both the English and Chinese language editions of the Global Times ran front-page articles on the photos of what appears to be a future J-20 fighter, along with extensive reports on the buzz the pictures have generated overseas.
Photos of the plane appeared on unofficial military news websites and hobbyist blogs last week and were still viewable Wednesday.
The Global Times did not comment on the authenticity of the pictures, but since the government wields extensive control over state media, the report's appearance and the fact that censors have not removed images from websites suggest a calculated move to leak the information into the public sphere.
That in turn would reflect the growing confidence of the traditionally secretive People's Liberation Army, which is pushing for greater influence and bigger budgets.