China has unveiled an updated version of the J-31 "Gyrfalcon" fighter jet, which is expected to be marketed internationally within the next five years, reports the Beijing-based Sina Military Network.
An updated model of the J-31 — a single-seat, twin-engine, fifth-generation stealth multirole fighter developed by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation — was recently on display at the 16th China Aviation Expo in Beijing from Sept. 16-19.
With a redesigned tail, the J-31's aerodynamic and stealth capabilities are said to have already surpassed most traditional fighter jets and will soon have an upgraded avionics system. Its current Russian-made RD-93 engine is also expected to be upgraded with a new version of the Chinese-made WS-13 engine in the future.
The J-31 reportedly reaches a max speed of Mach 1.8 and a combat radius of 2,000 kilometers, essentially satisfying the requirements of a carrier-based jet. In addition, the aircraft is said to have been designed for high survivability, low vulnerability to radar detection and low infrared radiation, and possesses excellent electronic countermeasures. The stealth fighter also has powerful target detection and external information gathering functionality, meaning it will have strong air combat capabilities can attack both land and sea targets.
The development of the J-31 has been extremely fast as it is based on mature technology, Sina Military said, noting that there have been allegations that China stole technology from America's F-35 Lightning fighter jet to design the aircraft.
The J-31 is expected to complete test flights within the next five years and be promoted on the international market shortly thereafter. By 2024, China could market the J-31 as a replacement for the current JF-17 Block II multirole combat aircraft it jointly developed with Pakistan.
Apart from advanced capabilities, the main selling point of the J-31 is its low price, which might even be cheaper than some third-generation fighters out on the market, the report said.
There are also rumors that the J-31 could end up having multiple variants, including an aircraft carrier model and a bomber model.