China tests F-31 stealth fighter, cheaper competitor to US F-35
Beijing, Dec 26 (IANS) China successfully tested its newest twin-engine radar-evading, fifth generation stealth fighter, local media reported on Monday, citing sources in the aviation industry. The FC-31 Gyrfalcon can carry 8 tons of weapons and is said to be worth around $70 million.
The revamped version of what was previously known as the J-31 made its debut flight in the northeastern city of Shenyang on Friday, the state-owned China Daily reported.
The trailblazing aircraft was the brainchild of Shenyang Aircraft Corp, part of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
According to AVIC, the FC-31 has a maximum take-off weight of 28 metric tons, a flight radius of 1,250 km, and a top speed of Mach 1.8 or 1.8 times the speed of sound.
The aircraft can easily carry 8 tons of weapons, holding six missiles in its internal weapons bay, plus six more under its wings.
Sergey Kornev, head of Russia’s Air Force Equipment Export Department, earlier told RIA Novosti the J-31 will fly on Russian aircraft engines RD-93.
A publicity officer at AVIC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the flight test to the China Daily.
The FC-31 first came under the spotlight in 2012 when the first prototype managed to stay airborne for as long as 11 minutes during a test.
The new fighter boasts a number of improvements over the previous one, experts say.
“Compared with the first FC-31, there are a lot of improvements on the second prototype. Changes were made to the airframe, wings and vertical tails, which make it leaner, lighter and more maneuverable,” Wu Peixin, an aviation industry observer in Beijing, told the newspaper.
The only fifth-generation fighter jet currently available on the market is the US Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, a single-engine combat aircraft designed to perform ground attack and air defence missions.
According to Lockheed Martin, it is the “world’s most advanced” multi-role fighter, boasting “unmatched capabilities” to military forces around the world.