The China stealth fighter prototype jet flew this past Wednesday in Shenyang according to eyewitnesses. The China stealth fighter is called the “Falcon Eagle” and is designated J-31, which is the second stealth fighter after the larger J-20 which flew in 2011. The 10-minute aerial debut of the twin-engine Falcon Eagle was over the Shenyang Aircraft Company airfield in northeastern China. An army of Chinese bloggers have leaked pictures and videos.
For years, China has been purchasing its military hardware from Russia, but the Chinese are trying to change this by rapidly increasing their Defense military spending. “The technical barriers and development costs for such aircraft are enormous and the U.S. has struggled for years to deliver on their potential,” the Washington Post explains. Similarly, China’s development of their own stealth fighter program will takes years, and the earliest projection for the jet entering service is 2018.
Analyst David Axe, writing for Wired.com, calls the flight “a huge leap forward for China’s ambitious stealth warplane program.” But, he added, “there are still more questions than answers about China’s second stealth fighter model.”
Some believe that the J-31 China Stealth Fighter is intended for launching off of China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which has been undergoing testing near the port of Dalian since July 2011. But it’s possible it’s intended to be primarily land-based. The J-31 appears similar to the fifth generation United States stealth fighters, “but with a less powerful engine and a lower proportion of sophisticated radar-blocking composite materials.” These superficial similarities to the United States F-22 and F-35 have fueled speculation that the Chinese based the J-31 Stealth Fighter′s design on blueprints stolen in 2009 from the servers of at least six American defense contractors.
“In terms of design it appears the J-31 is inferior to the latest US planes,” said Chang, head of the Kanwa Information Centre which monitors China’s military, on Telegraph.co.uk. “The layout is similar, but the material and quality are inferior. It will take at least seven or eight years before it can be commercially sold.”
Change believes that the J-31 China stealth fighter test flight was “timed to coincide with the run-up to China’s once-in-a-decade leadership transition next month.” The Shenyang Aircraft Company plans to export the stealth fighter jet to Chinese allies like Pakistan. Chang explains, “I think the regime is trying to to show off to their colleagues that the Hu Jintao regime achieved a lot for China.” The handover of power in China will be coming in several years.