China’s J-31 Stealth Fighter : Indian Perspective

Chinese media reports Quoting Chinese military commentator Lei Ze mentioned how emergence of the Chinese fifth generation J-31 fighter jet will make it difficult for the US to export its F-35 fighters , he also said that Currently, the only fifth generation fighter available for sale is the F-35 by the US. The J-31 will offer an alternative for non-traditional allies of the US.”

Indian Defence analysts Vinayak shetty thinks otherwise and says that it is unlikely that J-31 will affect export sale of F-35, “Many countries are firmly behind F-35 Project, even when Prices have surged upwards recently but it is unlikely any of the current customers will even consider buying Chinese J-31 even if aircraft hits production now” . While J-31 is still in testing phase and good 7 to 8 years before enters production, while F-35 is all set to enter fully fledged Mass production soon.

J-31 Stealth Fighter
J-31 Stealth Fighter

While analysts say the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) might be one of the earliest customers of the fighter aircraft, but Vinayak shetty believes it will not be easy for PAF to procure these fighters, PAF are already struggling to buy hand full of J-10 fighters for last few years, even with Soft Loan offer provided by Chinese. PAF on other hand in past were always reluctant to operate twin engine fighter aircraft of medium capability size due to higher operating cost involved.

With No 5th generation fighter aircraft Project coming out of Europe many of these countries will be F-35 operators, and Russian Pak-Fa will capture export orders from traditional Sukhoi 30 / Mig operators in Asia. Traditional Chinese fighter aircraft market (Africa / Asian) countries will struggle to operate 5th generation fighter aircraft, so it will be very difficult for Chinese to push sales in their traditional market and difficult to break into American traditional partners, unless sale is bogged down by Us Export restrictions.

Vinayak shetty also have raised concern about a potential arms race in Asia due to emergence of Chinese J-31, many countries that are neighbours of China and have some unsolved issues with them, might now consider buying expensive F-35 or Pak-fa actually boosting their sales in return.

Currently many countries are also working on their own 5th generation fighter aircraft projects other than Russian, Us and China. India is working on Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, Japanese on Mitsubishi ATD-X , Turkey on TFX and Russia again on single engine cheaper stealth fighter aircraft based on Mikoyan LMFS , which all might actually eat into J-31 export orders