China's J-31 Stealth Aircraft Takes Flight
Image Credit: x-ray delta one (Flickr)

China's J-31 Stealth Aircraft Takes Flight


Well, the Chinese aviation industry sure isn’t wasting any time: From the first glimpse of the tarp-covered fuselage being hauled in the first official pictures released by Shenyang Aircraft Corp (SAC) in September, China’s second fifth-generation stealth aircraft, the J-31, has now taken its maiden flight.

While defense analysts have been busy fretting over Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corp’s (CAC) J-20, first unveiled in January 2011, it looks like SAC was not dwindling its thumbs but instead was hard at work developing a second low-signature aircraft. Since the unveiling in September, defense watchers had been holding their breath in anticipation of what would come next.

SAC didn’t make them wait for long, with in-flight images of the J-31, which previously had been designated J-21, popping up on defense Internet sites on October 31. Bearing the tail designation “31001,” the aircraft, accompanied by two Shenyang J-11Bs, reportedly conducted a high-speed taxi run, followed by a 10-minute flight with its landing gear in the lowered position.

There is still speculation as to whether the J-31 is intended to be a competitor to the J-20, or a complement to its larger cousin. The one prototype seen so far is a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft like the J-20 and the Lockheed F-35A. However, computer-generated renditions of the aircraft have emerged in defense circles hinting at the possibility of a carrier-based variant, pointing to a role for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Analysts have also advanced the possibility that the J-31, under the designation F-60, could be intended as an export fighter to compete against the F-35.

As with the J-20 and other domestic aircraft programs, the main question remains which type of engine — the main technical bottleneck for Chinese engineers — will be used on the J-31. One option, according to some analysts cited at China Defense, could be the Progress-Ivchenko Al-222-95F, a 9.5-tonne turbofan thrust engine, which Ukraine has reportedly offered to co-produce with China.

The Chinese Air Force and Navy are probably half a decade away from seeing fight-generation commence operations in their respective services. But one thing is sure: Defense analysts have underestimated China’s ability to overcome technological hurdles before. While the sky isn’t falling in East Asia, the skies over China are well worth paying close attention to.

November 11, 2012 at 12:03

No worry if China unable to do no body else could. China has already sucessfully developed WS 18 – a 18,000kg
thrust engine for the new fighters.  Russian called it a 18 tons monster. From here on advanced fighter planes
are just play things for China.  US may carry superlative like unbeatable for a few decades but compare to China`s long long civilisation US is just like a kindergaten stuff.  No offence the facts come out clear and loud that China is going to reign supreme in the sky and the space try to catch China if you can. Imagine all the embargos and sanctions against China all for nothing but just the kind of colonial and imperialist try to rule the world and enslaved China vast populations. All the money and energy spent and institutions  established just trying to make sure China`s rise if inevitable has to go through the West directives.  To beat China into shape and then call the tune is futile. Sorry China is not just another country like Iraq or Libya. 

November 11, 2012 at 01:40

The Creation of Weapons of the West and the East are just ARTIFICIAL….The Real Weapon is the ALMIGHTY…name them, all with Him…….

November 11, 2012 at 01:33

Weather Weapon……..Gosh…..Mentally ill…. 

November 4, 2012 at 16:04

Did the USA gave the chinese the plan of the Raptor?

November 3, 2012 at 11:26

The engines for this aircraft will be the WS-13 turbofan. The WS-13 is already in production and is currently used to power the Sino-Pakistan JF-17 fighter. An upgraded version with more thrust called the WS-13A is currently under development. 

November 2, 2012 at 16:02

Domestic engine like the WS-13? The WS-13 is nothing more than a copy of the Russian RD-33 turbofans!
India was just given the licencing rights by Rosoboronexport of Russia to produce the WS-13………………………….oh, excuse me, the RD-33 turbofan jet engines.

November 2, 2012 at 13:46

weather weapon……really….that is absolutely retarded

November 2, 2012 at 03:03

Yeah, they are just testing their designs from stolen plans of western aircraft.  The east is always two steps behind the west in aerospace development.  That is because American PTB will starve their people so they can spend billions on new weapon systems.  The new world war isn't going to be fought with guns, tanks, aircraft and missiles.  It will be fought with psy-ops, greed, corruption, and a financial strangle-hold on the masses.

November 2, 2012 at 02:16

Hmm…weather weapon…you mean like Sandy?

Carl Jones
November 1, 2012 at 12:43

This follows the same Cold War pattern where by the West (namely the US) leaked military technology to the Russians so that the military industrial complex could go running back to the government for more money. China is by far and away the most proactive spying nation and the West just keeps feeding them just enough to keep things interesting.
The real weapons today are things like weather control (Katrian/Sandy) which is a fantastic scam that gets money into the economy through insurance payouts, oersonal savings and Federal aid which is just debt. Like the big lush contrats that were handed out after Katrina.
Here in the UK, the coalition (cabal) is doing the same thing by flooding key areas. In order to maintain this scam, they are proposing to make all policy holder…those that are not in flood risk areas, to pay for those in flood areas through their policy payments…this way, flood victims will continue to get cove and get payout…its a fantastic way to inject money into the failing economy!!

John Chan
November 1, 2012 at 02:51
October 31, 2012 at 21:41

what else is new, "defense analysts" have constantly been wrong about the chinese military.
that said, its more likely the engines are RD93 or some other varient of it until a dometic engine can be sourced like the ws-13. 

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