New Chinese Fifth-Generation Fighter Revealed

 - September 21, 2012, 11:45 PM
The latest Chinese combat aircraft to be revealed has a similar configuration to the Lockheed Martin F-35A/C.

Imagery emerged on the Internet last weekend showing China’s latest stealth fighter in prototype form. With fifth-generation characteristics, it bears a distinct resemblance to the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor and F-35A/C Lightning II stealth fighter designs, and appears to be similar in size to the latter. Photos of the twin-engine aircraft on the ground at an unidentified airfield–possibly Xian-Yanliang airbase–were leaked the day before U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta started a three-day visit to Beijing. Could this be mere coincidence? China’s earlier stealth design, the Chengdu J-20, made its first flight just before former Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited China in January 2011.

Rumors of a stealthy, JSF-sized aircraft being developed by Shenyang Aircraft have been in circulation for some time. Models of such aircraft were displayed at an exhibition in Beijing last year. A few weeks ago, photos emerged of a tarpaulin-shrouded airframe being trucked from Shenyang by low-loader on public roads, fueling speculation that the fighter would be revealed imminently.

With these photos and some computer-generated imagery (CGI) also posted online, it is possible to make some general assessment of the aircraft, although there has been no official recognition of its existence, or any firm details for that matter. The designation J-21 was initially mooted, while the model display suggested that it was the F-60, although this is most likely the designation for any future export version. The airfield photos show an aircraft serial-numbered 31001, and it is therefore now assumed that the designation is J-31.

The J-31 is smaller than the Chengdu J-20, and would appear to complement it rather than compete with it. Unhampered by the need to provide a common airframe that could incorporate STOVL capability, the J-31 differs from the Lockheed Martin F-35 by having much longer and larger weapon bays and by being powered by twin engines. The CGI shows four hardpoints under each wing, with the inner two carrying heavy missiles. It also shows an arrestor hook deployed, suggesting carrier capability.

It has been assumed that the aircraft would be powered by the Guizhou WS13, and possibly in the future by a new-generation powerplant currently dubbed “WS-XX.” However, examination of the nozzles of the new aircraft suggests that, initially at least, it is powered by the Klimov RD93. This engine is a version of the MiG-29’s RD33 developed specifically to power the Chengdu JF-17 and has been supplied to China in some numbers for that production program. The inlet design is diverterless, a feature of the F-35 but not the F-22.

 

Comments

Hector's picture

I have always thought this, and I might be wrong, but there is a possibility that China might be moving to quickly for its own good as far as aviation technology is concerned. Pretty much every country in the aviation industry has an extensive history. The U.S. and Russia of course, but also, Europe and Brazil. They all have rich histories and experience. China on the other hand has pretty much nothing, and most of what they have done is a copy of a western design and if not blatant ripoff of Russian airplanes. Even the J10 is a copy of an Israeli design. I am willing to bet that this jet, although it might look good from afar its probably rife with problems even apart from using Russian engines which are historically bad. When it gets fitted with Chinese engines, I am willing to bet it will be worse. I realize they have to start somewhere, but it just seems like they wen't from having nothing to a stealth jet. I am highly suspicious and skeptical it works as advertised. Not only because they are the Chinese government, but because China just doesn't have the technology or expertise.

Halsey Bartlett Jr.'s picture

As the above post noted, it seems as if China is in high gear to advance it's aerospace programs and technologies. China had taken advantage of it's requirement of western aerospace companies who wanted to sell the Chinese aircraft and related by entering into licensed or co-production of aircraft. This enabled China to acquire western technologies to benefit their attempts at manufacture of aircraft and related systems. With this in mind, I am not surprised at the clear simularities of their aircraft to US and wrstern systems. China also is a leader in internet hacking and proprietary engineering may have been stolen that way also.
China is a highly nationalist country and I do not envision that they intend to rely on non-Chinese aerospace companies for their needs and I can assure you that they have set a goal of being the world's leader in aerospace technology whether thru acquisition of US and western firms or methods described above.
(submitted via phone resulting in a few spelling errors)

ML's picture

I am aware that PR China has at least 3 stealth fighter programs that are being developed with foreign expertise - and they have chosen to continue to develop at least 2 of these designs that are related and connected to the Russian MiG Design Bureau which bears a similar appearance and template to the cancelled (and defunct) MiG MFI Program. I do not believe that these aircrafts can compete with the F22A Raptor or F35 A/B/C eventually - but do not underestimate China's attempts to continue the perfection of its stealth fighter programs, just as they have always fully exploited the development of the MiG 15/17/19/21 to its fullest potential - and there are some 1.3+ billion mainland-Chinese in China, and they must not be treated like the Overseas-Chinese in Singapore and in Southeast-Asia, that are not as capable as the mainland-Chinese, and they lack the numbers to be of any significance in military science and technology in the Chinese and Asian equation - and they depend heavily on our Western technical and technological templates, investments and support of all kinds and sorts!
I agree that China must be tamed and contained for its own good (and for ours too) - so that they do not become the next evil that we all fear and dread that could be the cause for the next World War (3) which could become very real if we (and China) are not careful which could result in a nuclear catastrophe!

Michael Leon @ Sportsvej 60 in Glostrup - Denmark.

ML's picture

I am aware that PR China has at least 3 stealth fighter programs that are being developed with foreign expertise - and they have chosen to continue to develop at least 2 of these designs that are related and connected to the Russian MiG Design Bureau which bears a similar appearance and template to the cancelled (and defunct) MiG MFI Program. I do not believe that these aircrafts can compete with the F22A Raptor or F35 A/B/C eventually - but do not underestimate China's attempts to continue the perfection of its stealth fighter programs, just as they have always fully exploited the development of the MiG 15/17/19/21 to its fullest potential - and there are some 1.3+ billion mainland-Chinese in China, and they must not be treated like the Overseas-Chinese in Singapore and in Southeast-Asia, that are not as capable as the mainland-Chinese, and they lack the numbers to be of any significance in military science and technology in the Chinese and Asian equation - and they depend heavily on our Western technical and technological templates, investments and support of all kinds and sorts!
I agree that China must be tamed and contained for its own good (and for ours too) - so that they do not become the next evil that we all fear and dread that could be the cause for the next World War (3) which could become very real if we (and China) are not careful which could result in a nuclear catastrophe!

Michael Leon @ Sportsvej 60 in Glostrup - Denmark.

Joe's picture

Reading the above titled post it has the big question that comes to mind is:
At what stage will the US government and Americans stop running scared?
Under the cold war the Russians were cast as the evil that must be tamed. The cold war went on for decades, resulting in millions dead in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, South and Central America and Africa.
At the end of the cold war with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, instead of witnessing a more peaceful world polity, the American obsession shifted to how to consolidate their power as the single global super power with the power of life of death hanging over the rest of the world.
When the 9-11 attack shattered the assumed American invisibility, the new war cry of the Americans became the war against terror. This new war has again resulted in the death of thousands of innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
As the ill-advised wars in Iraq and Afghanistan appear to be winding down, it appears the US and their war monger manipulators have identified new imaginary enemies in the Chinese and the Iranians, with the self-delusion that the Americans are the good guys while every other invented enemy becomes the bad guy.
It is time Americans realized that they and the Israelis are the single most potent incendiary for any future world war. We are watching.

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