China’s development of the FC-31, the country’s second stealth fighter jet, is proceeding smoothly and on schedule, according to its chief designer, according to the PLA Daily.
Sun Cong, president of the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment under Aviation Industry Corporation of China, said at a news conference on Thursday in Shenyang, Liaoning province, that people should be patient and wait for good news from the project.
“You will see its latest developments in due course, in the near future,” said Sun, who is also the chief researcher at AVIC’s Shenyang Aircraft Design and Research Institute.
Sun’s comments indicated that China has never wavered in its attempts to develop and build a second series of stealth combat aircraft after the J-20 entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force in 2017.
His remarks are likely to reassure anyone concerned about the fate of FC-31 because of its virtual disappearance from public view over the past two years.
The twin-engine, radar-evading fighter jet was unveiled in October 2012 when a prototype made its maiden flight, becoming China’s second 5th-generation fighter jet, following the J-20.
The FC-31 has a high survivability rate, a low radar signature, advanced electronic countermeasures, strong information gathering and handling capacity, outstanding situational awareness and beyond-visual-range combat capability.
In addition to air combat, it can also carry out strikes against land and sea targets, according to its designers.
The aircraft has a large weapons bay and can carry multiple external missiles.
According to AVIC specifications, the FC-31 has a maximum takeoff weight of 25 metric tons, a combat range of 1,200 kilometers and a top speed of Mach 1.8, or 2,205 kilometers per hour. It can carry 8 tons of weapons and has a designed life span of up to 30 years.
The FC-31 will enter service in the PLA as the Shenyang institute and Shenyang Aircraft Corp’s latest major accomplishment, following the J-15 carrier-based fighter jet and the half-century-old J-8 series fighter jet.
Last week in Shenyang, AVIC marked the 50th anniversary of the J-8’s maiden flight, as well as the 10th anniversary of J-15’s first flight.
The J-8 was China’s first domestically developed combat plane capable of executing high-altitude, high-speed operations, and the series has several variants still in service with the PLA Air Force and PLA Navy. The J-15 is the spearhead of the Navy’s carrier battle group and has taken part in many long-distance combat exercises over open seas.