China has tested the latest version of its fifth-generation stealth fighter, state media reported 26 December 2017, as it tries to end the West’s monopoly on the world’s most advanced warplanes. The test comes as the nation flexes its military muscles, sending its sole aircraft carrier the Liaoning into the western Pacific in recent days to lead drills there for the first time.
An improved version of the J-31 — now renamed the FC-31 Gyrfalcon — took to the air for the first time Friday, the China Daily reported. The so-called “fifth-generation” twin-engine jet is China’s answer to the US F-35, the world’s most technically advanced fighter. The new FC-31 has “better stealth capabilities, improved electronic equipment and a larger payload capacity” than the previous version+ which debuted in October 2012, the newspaper said, quoting aviation expert Wu Peixin.According to AVIC, the FC-31 has a maximum take-off weight of 28 metric tons, a flight radius of 1,250km, and a top speed of Mach 1.8 (or 1.8 times the speed of sound).
Previously known as the J-31, the twin engine, radar evading aircraft is still under development by Shenyang Aircraft Corp, part of the Aviation Industry Corp of China, (AVIC), it said. The Chinese stealth aircraft have strategic significance for India as besides China, Pakistan – which is producing JF-17 Thunder fighter along with Beijing – has already evinced interest in acquiring China’s stealth fighter. India is yet to have stealth aircraft in its arsenal. The jet is manufactured by Shenyang Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC). The fighter is expected to sell for around $70 million, the article said, aiming to take market share away from more expensive fourth-generation fighters like the Eurofighter Typhoon.