Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Chinese Stealth Takes to the Seas

 The PLAN has a new stealth aircraft on the way. The J-31 (sometimes called the FC-31) is the second stealth fighter to be produced by a Chinese company. It is produced by the Shenyang Aircraft Company (SAC). It is a twin-engine, medium sized fighter with stealth, high maneuverability, and highly integrated logistics. This aircraft will be the second carrier-borne stealth aircraft in the world. 

A number of characteristics have confirmed that it is meant as a carrier-borne aircraft. The main giveaway is catapult launch bar, signaling it will be used on the new Type 003 aircraft carrier the Chinese are in the process of completing. It remains to be seen if this aircraft will be able to operate on the other two PLAN aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong, due to their STOBAR system. If it is capable of being used on those two carriers, it would enhance their capabilities and longevity. The other significant marker that it is meant for carrier operations are the folded wing tips. These are so the aircraft takes less room on the carrier allowing it to hold more aircraft. 

According to SAC, it is meant to compete with the American F-35 on the international market. While many countries want to buy F-35s from the US, it comes with a high price tag and political restrictions that limit the number of buyers. The J-31 is intended to fill this gap by offering an aircraft with stealth capabilities, a lower price tag, and fewer political restrictions. The J-31 does not have all of the capabilities an F-35 does, but the combination of its affordability and lack of restrictions means it is likely to find willing buyers. 

It has not been fielded yet, but it should be watched carefully by all who are interested in Chinese military advancements. This aircraft offers the Chinese opportunities to impact the battlefield and international markets.

No comments: