China unveils its brand new stealth fighter: the J-31 “Falcon Eagle”. But it’s a copy of the F-22 Raptor
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.
- Alaska’s F-22 stealth fighter jets became the first operational Raptors to drop GBU-39 small diameter bombs (theaviationist.com)
- F-22 Raptor kill markings shown off by German Eurofighter Typhoons. “The F-22 is not invincible” saga continues. (theaviationist.com)
- Photo: F-22 Raptor refuels off the east coast (theaviationist.com)
- Farnborough 2012: “Yesterday we had Raptor salad for lunch” Typhoon pilot said after dogfighting with the F-22 at Red Flag Alaska (theaviationist.com)
- German Eurofighter Typhoons train in Sardinia to improve air-to-air skills (theaviationist.com)
- “Gray Dragon”: the only F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter painted in a two-tone gray experimental color scheme (theaviationist.com)
- Stealth fighters, giant aircraft carriers, flying wing bombers: if these visionary weapons were real, China dominate the world (theaviationist.com)