As tensions boil over Taiwan, the US and China have ramped up efforts in the field of defense innovation as they build modern warfare equipment, in a bid to swank their superiority over the other amidst a growing belief that potential conflict could be on the horizon.
With both nations conducting military drills in the South China Sea which has dramatically heightened tensions, Beijing knows that despite having the numbers in its military arsenal, it would need something extra to bridge the gap of technological advancements left behind by the Pentagon. And, it might have just found a solution in the new J-31 fighters jets.
As per the recent images of the fighter doing rounds on the internet, the J-31, also known as Shenyang FC-31 is Beijing’s newest fifth-generation stealth fighter is built to match up to its American counterpart, the US F-35s, so much so that it even looks like the exact replica of the stealth fighter jet.
Military Expert Kris Osborn, while writing for the Fox News, says – “Virtually all photos and renderings of the J-31, since first unveiled, revealed a striking resemblance to the U.S. F-35. This does not come to the surprise of many in the U.S., given China’s well-known and documented cyberespionage efforts.
Widely believed to be modeled on the basis of stolen technology from the F-35s, it is the second indigenous stealth fighter after the J-20s, which is developed by the Chinese state-owned developer the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
The J-31, also referred as Falcon Hawk or Falcon Eagle is a twin-engine (Russian RD-93s) fighter jet which provides stealth features, extraordinary maneuverability, and boasts an internal weapons bay that can carry two medium-range missiles, along with two heavy hardpoints and one light hardpoint on each wing.
Besides that, the jet is equipped with superior avionics and sensors providing enhanced situational awareness, improved radar tracking & targeting capabilities, and integrated electronic-warfare systems.
The F-35 jet on the other hand is the most sought after fighters on the face of the planet as they use advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, and advanced sustainment to provide supreme capabilities in the air.
According to a Chinese state-run outlet, the People’s Daily, the J-31 “represents a serious threat to U.S. arms manufacturers” and that Chinese “experts predict that the J-31 will make rapid inroads in the international market in the future, and will undoubtedly steal the limelight from the F-35”.
Experts suggest that despite the J-31s being put on the same pedestal as the F-35s due to its stealth aerodynamic design, it is too early to predict whether the aircraft is a match for the US jets, with information on the formers radar-absorbent coating materials still not known.
Moreover, there is less or no information on whether the J-31s will be inducted as a carrier-based naval fighter for PLA Navy’s two aircraft carriers, which utilize a ski-jump flight deck, unlike the F-35s which are compatible with American warships which use the same flight deck.
According to a senior US pilot, the J-31s would be a better match for the American fourth-generation fighters, which do not possess stealth technology. “They’ll probably be a handful right off the bat for all of our fourth-gen stuff,” said the Pilot.
However, while taking a dig at Chinese attempts to copy other fighter jets, he said that the fighters could indeed end up levelling with the US Fifth-generation aircraft through means of industrial espionage.
“I think they’ll eventually be on par with our fifth-gen jets — as they should be, because industrial espionage is alive and well.” added the pilot.
This is not the first time the Chinese have reverse engineered a western aircraft, with Beijing showcasing the influence of Lockheed Martin’s F-22s in the J-20s and the striking similarities between Russia-made Sukhoi Su-33s in the J-15s.
Penned By Mansij Asthana