China unveils its brand new stealth fighter: the J-31 “Falcon Eagle”. But it’s a copy of the F-22 Raptor

Sep 16 2012 - 30 Comments

Pictures of a previously unknown brand new fighter jet have started to appear online over the weekend.

Built by the Shenyang company, the new aircraft, could be the answer of the aerospace firm to the Chengdu J-20, whose two prototypes have already become quite famous across the world since the first images of the large, short-take off and landing stealth plane, leaked on the Chinese defense forums about two years ago.

Image credit: Tixue.net

The new aircraft, coded 31001 (hence, believed to be designated J-31) it’s a sort of copy of the F-22 Raptor the most advanced (and troubled), (multi-role) fighter jet in the U.S. Air Force inventory: same nose section, same twin tails and trapezoidal wings along with the distinctive lines of the stealth design. Anyway, even if it has two engines, the new aircraft doesn’t seem to feature thrust vectoring capabilities. At least on this first prototype.

It has also some F-35-like features, as the air intakes and wings dimensions.

The J-31 is smaller than the J-20, from which it differs for the grey paint job and the presence of a colored emblem on the tails (in place of the typical red star) with the text 鹘鹰, Chinese for “Falcon Eagle”

Image credit: Tixue.net

Although it’s almost impossible to say whether the new aircraft will eventually reach production phase, for sure it proves that China has at least two stealth projects for future combat capable aircraft.

Considered all the cyber attacks targeting Lockheed Martin stealth projects in the last years, one could believe Chinese hackers were able to put their hands on some useful technical drawings of the Raptor. Still, it would be the avionics, radar-evading features, equipment and weapons, rather than the shape, to make the difference in a dogfight. Unless the Chinese will build some thousand examples such jets.

  • http://twitter.com/Ruidano Ruidano (@Ruidano)

    Actually the Chinese stealth fighter F-60/j-21 looks like a pirate copy of the aircraft Mitsubishi ATD-X shinshin, and most interesting is the zero Japanese reaction on this.
    http://gigapositive.blogspot.com/2012/09/china-f-60-j-21-stealth-fighter-vs.html

    • lol@USA

      There is zero reaction because the ATD-X is just a paper model while the J-20 is a flying prototype. Thus the ATD-X is a pirate copy of the J-20

      • John

        Good One!!

      • George

        I agree how fun the one who came up with a new protoype can be accused of copying a none-existent fantasy art work.

        • http://twitter.com/Ruidano Ruidano (@Ruidano)

          This has already happened with the Chinese copy not yet presented at the time iPhone 5

        • George

          Oh really, do you actually have any proof to back up your statement? And if you have not filed the patent or registered the design, how can you claim you invented the design in the first place?

          Specially in the case, the Chinese have built a working prototype and ATD-X, whatever it is called never went beyond paper drawing. Wow I didn’t know all the Chinese engineers are not only good but also PSYCHIC.

      • http://twitter.com/Ruidano Ruidano (@Ruidano)

        In general, talking about lightweight j-21(F-60/J-31) – pirate copy of ATD-X, and NOT about heavy J-20 which has the engine from Su-30, tail from Mig-1.42, nose from F-22 Raptor…
        http://malevichart2.blogspot.com/2012/09/blog-post.html

        • Rick

          The ATD-X is a J-20 wannabe, the Mig-1.42 looks more like the franken-plane sitting in a jyard, China financed the F-22……..

      • Khalid Qureshi

        as if china gives a $$$ about the reactions.

    • rtf0

      Actually, I have nothing to say to your logic.

  • Goodgame

    Saying it’s a copy of an existing plane like the F-35 and F-22 is one thing. Saying it’s a copy of a plane that doesn’t even exist yet is “plane” insulting.

    Srly, the ATD-X is just a stealthified chibi F-15, which is itself a copy of the Mig-25.

    • Dan

      Hey, what an engineering achievement it is to be able to copy part of F35, part of F22 and other parts of whatever, and make it all happen on one air frame, and it can still fly???!!!??? I am totally impressed. This is called top notch innovation, guys. :-) Please give me another name/country to match this up…

  • Paul Dean

    it’s like it combine some features of thew US F-35 and the Russian PAK FA

  • Jeff

    Some people need to learn the difference between “copy of” and “shares a similar layout because that shape works well for that purpose”.

  • ray linn

    copied? where is the source? Does USA ever sell any fighter to China?

    • liuliu

      i am a chinese ,and i agree with you,we have first class enginers.
      your guys still lack realization of our chinese ability..

  • D. Coben

    Does anybody know, where the J-31 has been spotted within ROC?

  • http://www.jf-17.com JF-17

    So this is where all the terrabytes of hacked data went

  • Mr. P

    It actually looks better than the J-20 IMHO.
    By the look of it, only thing that needs to be improved are the engines.

  • some americans are stupid rednecks

    some americans are stupid rednecks. they are absolute losers, yet kept thinking they are some what superior than other countries in this world…foolish and pitiful

  • urabus

    Sour grapes and full of envious what China can do. China has the longest civilization and full of inventions came from China when the western world was still in dark ages! What China doing now either copy or new ideas are just kinder stuff. Wait for another 10 years and see what China does.

  • http://gravatar.com/chobigvoice chobigvoice

    HeY,
    copy is not bad once when you can copy those advanced things which other people are not able to copy and those things which never ever exist or even just the imaginaery of others.All in all, it needs a lot of effort and intellegent to copy,not the mindless people can do it!

  • http://BuenosAires,ARGENTINA ENRIQUE ALONSO

    ES UN AVION DE EXCELENTE PRESENTACION Y SIENDO DE QUINTA GENERACION PUEDE DAR BATALLA A CUALQUIER AVION OCCIDENTAL. NOSOTROS EN LA FUERZA AEREA ARGENTINA NOS GUSTARIA EMPLEAR EL J – 10 ,SIENDO QUE NUESTROS MIRAGE Y A – 4 HAN CUMPLIDO SUS MISIONES CON HONOR

  • Yang

    At the end of the day who cares if who copies from whom? The guy with the badassest piece of hardware wins and it’s as simple as that.

    I genuinely don’t understand why ppl keep arguing the originality of high-end military hardware. It’s pointless in my pov.

    • JonPeter

      Agreed, sometimes you copy, sometimes you change the game, it is finding the best solution. The bigger question is who has the next great solution (2 person fighter where the electonics officer controls 2-4 figheter drones for example.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/zach.bowman.50951 Zach Bowman

    I don’t think it is a F-22 copy, it’s a F-35 copy pretty much if you take a front side by side look at the two you will see what I am saying. Guess all the cyber attacks by China worked !

  • Bill Weatherby

    Seriously guys. All designers copy each other. The B-2 is a copy of the German WW2 plane the Horten. F-15 is a copy of the Foxbat. At the end of the day, it is the pilot and the avionics that count. There is even an article on this site of a Growler with an F-22 “kill”.

  • http://www.anthonymaw.com/ Anthony Maw

    The USA could pay off it’s 3 trillion dollar debt to china by selling the Chinese some of their crappy unreliable, expensive-to-fix, design-flawed F-22’s and F-35’s The US would have nothing to worry about – the American gear would break down in real combat – just ask the Iraqis and Iranians who traded oil for lots of American arms back in the 70’s and 80’s…a lot of good it did them!

    • Raptor1

      No… trading oil for high-tech gear, and then screwing with the country that sold them to you leads to unusable “junk” (I.e., no support, no upgrades, no spare parts)- I hope you don’t think, even for one second, that the words you used to describe the F-22 (The F-35 is another story, until it’s design is completed) mean anything to people who have SEEN it fly and studied the capabilities that China, Russia, and others are spending billions trying to duplicate – That would be a waste of your time, and those you’d be lying to. Until someone can show us a true operational stealthy, supercruising, high-altitude, integrated avionics-equipped fighter, fielded in numbers greater than a handful, and that aren’t just “paper tigers” , your words hold no weight whatsoever. If F-22s can dominate F-15s while heavily outnumbered, it will have NO problem with a few Chinese F-22 wanna-be’s

  • Graeme Willy

    The shape of the F22, for the most part, was defined and shaped by how detection technology works. Everything from the coating, color, to the precise angles. It’s design is unique in that, it’s hard to pick up on radar and has a minimized presence. If the Chinese were to design a jet that did something similar, they probably would also arrive at the angular shape of the F22…and they have. The only difference I see, on this model, is that it doesn’t have thrust vectors and the engines are not shaped so that they hide their heat signature as well, but all that could have been left out of the prototype for a reason.

    As far as the cyber-attacks go, that could have to do with it, too…I would never underestimate government hackers from any country. I’m sure we’re doing that stuff, too. I mean, wasn’t it Edward Snowden that revealed the US “surveillance” initiative of other countries?