China’s new-generation fighter jet is scheduled to make its maiden flight in 2021 according to a Chinese aviation expert. Analysts believe that to counter the US in the South China Sea, China’s new jets would be designed for two aircraft carriers that Beijing operates.
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A team at China Aero-Polytechnology Establishment has recommenced work on the project with the objective of advancing the scheduled maiden flight of a new-generation fighter jet in 2021, according to a statement the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment released on its WeChat.
This team is responsible for the new fighter jet’s essential technology project, and other institutes, including AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Design and Research Institute and the Chengdu-based No.29 Research Institute under the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), are also involved in its development, according to the statement.
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The statement did not provide additional details of the new fighter jet, but the Shenyang institute is known for the development of the J-15s, China’s first type of aircraft carrier-based fighter jet and the FC-31, China’s second type of stealth fighter aircraft.
Based on limited details, it is likely that the new fighter jet introduced in the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment statement is indeed a new aircraft carrier-based fighter jet developed from the FC-31, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese air expert, told the Global Times.
Fu said that while the Chinese Air Force may ultimately require a medium-sized stealth aircraft to supplement the heavy J-20 stealth fighter jet, the Chinese Navy has a critical shortage of a stealth fighter jet which can complete with US’ F-35B and F-35C.
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Experts say if this is the scenario, it could take up to five years or so of testing following the maiden flight in 2021 to put the new fighter jet into active service, pointing that this time period could be reduced because the FC-31 has been tested as a technical demonstrator for many years.
According to a statement released by the Shenyang institute in December 2019, it has started developing a new type of fighter jet jointly with AVIC Manufacturing Technology Institute since 2018. This older report did not elaborate on the specifics of the new aircraft.
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China is reportedly developing its third and more advanced aircraft carrier at Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard, which is expected to be launched and commissioned in the 2020s. A more advanced fighter jet could considerably improve the carrier’s combat capability.