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.

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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”

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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.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. 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!

    • 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

  2. 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?

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