China flies newest stealth fighter

Photos of China’s latest stealth fighter, the J-31, started appearing across aviation blogs in early October. Then reports surfaced that the J-31, built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, completed its first test flight Wednesday morning in northeastern China.

The J-31 executed the test flight escorted by a J-11 Chinese fighter if the photos from the event are to be believed. The Chinese government has yet to put out an official statement confirming the test. Chinese military officials have kept most details about their stealth aviation program tight lipped.

(Video after the jump)

J-31 photos indicate the fighter is significantly smaller than the J-20 — the other stealth fighter the Chinese unveiled. Aviation experts have speculated the J-31 could be used more so as an interceptor or a carrier-based aircraft. Thus, the J-20 would be used as a strike aircraft targeting ships and ground targets as it could hold more missiles.

The designs of the J-31, based on a survey of the leaked photos, indicate Chinese engineers have done their homework on the F-22 and F-35 built by Lockheed Martin. Chinese officials have said they did not steal any stealth designs from the U.S. but the similarities between the J-31 and the F-22 and F-35 are pretty telling.

The video posted below is a compilation of the photos of the J-31 that have leaked thus far. The film tries to give the impression that the plane is flying in slow motion, but that was just  some handy editing skills by the person who created the video.

(mobile users please kick here for the video)

75 Comments on "China flies newest stealth fighter"

  1. "Chinese military officials have kept most details about their stealth aviation program tight lipped."

    Something we have yet to do in the West to protect our own programs.

  2. Looks like a Chinese knock off of the JSF F-35. Overall since there Stealth tech is only gen one now, new ASEA radars may still track a plane more ASEA radars are needed for upgraded to F-15 and F-22 fleets.

    As of DoD report China is 5-8 years away from fielding such planes.

  3. Looks like the child from a F-22/F-35 love affair.

    But still, it show's that the Chinese are rather rapidly progressing. Not even two decades ago i thought i would never see a Chinese (or even more) carrier or such advanced aircraft. Im curious what we will see in the next decades to come.

  4. Hmm, I recognize that design…can anyone tell me from where?

  5. Ok, the defense industries are either completely stupid when it comes to information security or they are letting this stuff "leak" out on purpose.

    But I don't believe the former… :-{

  6. MegopeepeeinyourCoke | November 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply

    Maybe we can steal their design back and learn to make ours less expensive ;)

  7. Well, if the electronics are as good as the ones that have been in my cars, that were made in China, we have no problem. BTW, China financed these with the profits from their crap they sel at Wal-Mart.

  8. Thank you Bill Clinton for giving them all our computer technology,you are ONE swell cigar smoking guy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. If they can build them for less then one hundred billion million trillion dollars, maybe we should buy some.

    I would be seriously interested in seeing a capabilities sum up for this aircraft and the JSF, along with price totals for each. JSF will probably be much more capable, but man…

  10. Don't worry folks, in the end the china and the men in power will suffer from the same greed and corruption that plagues our industry. And who knows perhaps infor was leaked on purpose, just to justify the next gazillion dollar super weapon.

  11. I find it interesting that the Chinese decided to unveil its fighter on a largely American holiday, Halloween.. I guess its plane decided to dress up as an F-35/22 baby?

    I wonder.. if we stopped developing weapons, would their industry collapse?

  12. Makes me wonder, are we going to see a knock off B2 bomber like soonish?

  13. With GE getting ready to build a new engine plant in China, they will soon have good engines for their J-31's,J-20's and J-15's,J-11's & J-10's. Wait, wasn't Gates who said the US had a 20 year lead in Technology and cancelled the F-22. China will probably be flying their J-31's off their carrier before we can get the Junk Strike Fighter off ours. SAD, very SAD

  14. Does their tailhook work?

  15. Hey Blight, I said the electronics. I did not say the car was assembled in China. Check all your wiring harnesses, and other electronics. "Made in China." BTW, the final assembly maybe the U.S. but the majority of the components are mad overseas. My CTS's engine was made in Mexico and the transmission in France.

  16. Looks like an F-35 minus the VTOL handicap (single engine -> wonky side bays, must fit in LHD lift -> small "quart in a pint" design). Now it's a matter of execution. Something tells me that even with the VTOL compromise, the F-35 will be better, but not by the margin the rah-rah brigade thinks.

  17. Before you complain about stuff made in China, look at your own house and shed. How much of the items you own are made in your country?

    China will become "democratic" when their people want it. I heard a report a few years ago saying some economists suggest this will happen in the next few years (decade or so). IF America is still friendly towards China, they will become a great allie.

  18. What did you expect? Think the Chinese have any of their own ideas? Hell no… Every fricken country out there loves to steal our technology. What I don't understand is we have the technology to keep our secrets off the internet waves by creating our own system that bypasses the internet completely, so as to keep all our technology closely guarded and un-hackable… Come on DoD. What's up with that?

  19. The great Jessmo | November 1, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply

    What engine will this thing use? How advanced are the chinese in AESA tech?

  20. um except it did make it into space (unmanned) and was cancelled because of that little event called the collapse of the Soviet Union. Google is a wonderful tool.

  21. We had 20+ years of development between the F-22 and the F-35. It's funny how it didn't take China 20 years between their latest aircraft. Then again, Communist countries don't pay "for profit" companies more to drag out development. Apparently they think more highly of Capitalist principles than we do.

  22. If this J-31 reaches IOC in China before the F-35 does in America I think all our services should sue Lockheed Martin for sucking at life.

  23. It looks like a duck, but can it swim or quack like a duck? We don't know that yet. I'll wait and see.

  24. Dont worry guys. This thing looks impressive but our pilot asphyxiation technology is decades ahead of theirs

  25. It was revealed a few mos ago (without comment by the media) that China had pilfered most of our military tech via hacking, especially our stealth stuff. It looks like an F-35 for obvious reasons; They don't need to develop this technology, they can steal it because our security is non existent, or just buy it (J-11 from Russia, Lavi from Isreal etc) . After all, Biden said in his debate that we don't need a front line military with heavy weapons, and we only need a few special ops guys. It's the typical anti-military mindset of the left that has resulted in this.

  26. I sense that comparing it to the Raptor may be a little premature. It is hard to determine its scale without images of the plane on the ground, but it appears smaller than the Flanker (J-11) chase plane. So, that together with how compact the wing configuration appear to be may suggest it is more to fill a role that of the F-18 and/or Fulcrum D; a mid-sized multirole. To my eye it looks more like a small F-15 with the sculpted nose and intakes of the F-35, but so far without evidence of thrust vectoring and certainly without stealth geometry having been applied to the rear of the aircraft… perhaps in the spirit of the PAK-FA, sacrificing some stealth for agility (or production given limited resources and experience.)

    For me the big questions are engines, sensors and weapon capacity. Depending on size it may or may not have the internal stores to remain stealthy on approach and carry the fight through. And of course without considerable improvements in IR/RADAR/ECM over previous known iterations for China's aircraft the geometry may make for quite limited improvements. To be honest I don't know that it can be called a stealth aircraft outside of the nose and intake shape. The J-20 appears to be a more interesting design in that its configuration suggests it could be used to threaten carriers. So far the J-31 is just a twin engined fighter that happens to be painted black.

    Lastly, although I appreciate everything is politics, building expensive stealth aircraft is not a viable solution for a country the size of China. To cover the entire country they will have to build hundreds more, and refit them to keep pace with counter advances and intelligence. To build them for a single carrier, or 3 or 5 just ensures a few SSN skippers easy pickings. We can be certain this aircraft will make for equally impressive photo ops when it is sliding into the ocean off of a shattered, burning deck.

  27. The Chinese could very well be laughing their asses off at Uncle Sam if F-22 and F-35 were actually full of made-in-China components. Ask Lockheed Martin to confirm.

  28. Tribulationtime | November 2, 2012 at 5:33 am | Reply

    Chris have a good overall view. If the question is (the biggest one): How would this plane perform in a white hot war with China?. The short answer is: China loses!!. Other question is: How the Dragoon is dangerous? answer: He has one more teeth each day. From a whole earth picture China strategic position is the same!! than Germany, Japan and CCCP. No win situation. China is locked in his own courtyard!!. Let´s figure it:

  29. China will likely surprised everybody with a launch of their own jet engine just when the USA least expect it. Yeah the Americans always underate China.

  30. The Chinese will copy any design they can get information about. They copied the Russian fighters in the past, to include known defects in the Russian designs.
    They probably don't have the materials technology (yet) to build a true stealth aircraft, but they are doing the leg work torwards a true stealth aircraft. The US Air Force is a stealth enthusiast and as with any new technology, it is only a matter of time before a countermeasure is developed. The best approach will be to build cheap drones in large numbers to confuse an enemy air defense system and then send in a stealth bommber to blast holes in the enemy air defense system. That limits teh number of required stealth assets and if countermeasures are in place, limits their effectiveness.

  31. So how fast can anyone bet that China will export and sell Fighters like that to a third world Air force.

  32. Russia is US geopolitical enemy level 1. China? whatever, whatever

  33. If you don't have the right stuff, fake it.

  34. China doesn’t really need to steal tech that it can come up with by itself. You can derive an algorithm from a full scale model using radar… like in some top secret Gobi facility. Metallurgy and composites can be exploited using the reflective/absorption qualities inherent in known materials and allow development of new materials. China has been doing this for decades in a pointed counter to enemy regimes.

  35. just curious and kinda off topic but as far as radar goes why havent we started to try and procure a radar that doesnt look for return signals but looks instead where signals are not. i.e. where an airplane, boat, etc. would be.

  36. Well of course it looks very similar to the F-22/F-35. They got probably all their "notes" from those two programs. Our Country's leaders are doing all this for our enemies and for our not so trustworthy "friends" like the Chinese. They can deny it all day long, but simple fact is that we no longer have things like "COMSEC", or any other forms of security regarding our military capabilities; because our leaders want to put everything out front for so-called transparency. Remember, back in the days of WWII, there was a often stated axiom "Loose Lips Sink Ships". Now-a-days, it should "Loose Lips KILL Aircraft, Ships and all forms of Ground personnel and their equipment".

  37. Ok so we know Lockheed are the biggest cut purses out there, but how come the Chinese and Russians/Indians seem to bale to build 5th gen fighters for a tenth of the money ?

    It doesn't add up because these are in no way even on a level with the Euro Fighter.

  38. I don't even think they have to hack us to get the info. Engineers and scientists publish all the latest research we fund to the internet. And we pay Chinese researchers to do the research. Then they might get the rest from the Freedom Of Information Act and magazines publishing that latest stuff. The best way to get classified information? Hire journalists to dig up the info and then publish it. Can't go to jail for that.

  39. The most obvious conclusion is that they developed it themselves…

    Considering that the j10b has a comparable RCS to the Eurofighter, it shouldn’t be beyond SAC to develop something better than the failed JSF.

  40. I just put on my tin-foil thinking cap for a moment, and I wonder whether or not this plane is a result of an Israeli-Chinese partnership, much like that of the LAVI/J-10 program.

    In realpolitik terms, the IDF must realize that they need a 5th-generation fighter a lot more than the US does, as their oil-producing neighbors can eventually buy new Russian aircraft. Fearful that the JSF program might get the axe, they hedge their bets by secretly developing their own plane with the Chinese. Doing it all in China means the US can't pressure the Israelis to cancel the project like they did with the LAVI.

    Espionage might solely account for the resemblance, but it could also be that this plane was actually designed to do exactly what the F-35A is supposed to do: replace the F-16 as a short-range strike fighter.

    Tinfoil hat off.

  41. China is truely going AHEAD of US and F35, in next few years wi will see them having squadrons of new aircraft operating and US still testing oxygen/tail hook/whatever on F35

  42. That’s more a rumour since there is a chronology of development from the f7 and j9 to suggest there was an evolution to the j10. They have been playing with configurations that seem to have matured in the j10. They love their deltas.

    China has an economic stake in Iran, so although they could help the Israeli’s, they might not want them to have something that would allow a first strike ability in some heavy IADS like a nuclear reactor in Iran. The Israeli’s would also deeply offend the USA who aid them the most. The USA doesn’t want them to have the f22.

  43. Previous post was for JE McKeller…

    With tinfoil hat. :P

  44. China has to keep up, they loaned a western country a bunch of money. All loan companies have collectors to use when the bill gets late!

  45. Wonder which stealth craft is really the least detectable.


  46. Marcellus Hambrick | November 2, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Reply

    Not worried about Chinese. Our liberal social programs will save us!

  47. Probably the B2 Spirit, except for visiblity, then f22, not including UAV’s. Then maybe:
    – J31
    – j20
    – PAK FA
    – JSF

  48. To all the people claiming that this is a copy of a US plane: you are dead wrong. The Chinese may have gotten this technology from the US, but we did not invent it ourselves. Every piece of advanced technology that the F-35 has in common with the J-31 is technology that was recovered from the wreckage of the alien spacecraft that crashed in Roswell back in 1947. Jeeze, why don't you people fact check your statements before jumping on the China bashing bandwagon for once?

  49. The Chinese crack Me up. If the jet is anything like the stuff They are exporting over here then They can expect to have a fleet of one or two time use aircraft that will be in hangers for mantenance more often than they are flying. The shortcuts They take are almost always costly.

  50. Available soon from Harbor Freight.

  51. Imagine a remote control toy airplane in a config of F-35 up front AND F-22 for the back end. Simple and cheap. Flown by the real jet beside it. There are no electronics for attack or defense, just enough to make it fly. The Western world then falls all over itsself looking and trying to decipher this new jet. Who is really laughing now?

  52. Just because its externals are similar to the F-22 and F-35, does that make it a truly stealth fighter?

  53. Marcellus Hambrick | November 3, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Reply

    There are a lot of Chinese Americans that likely work in the US defense industry. Seeing the similarity to some of our planes make you wonder!

  54. The Chinese didnt steal thier stealth technology that claim betrays and ignorance about how technology works, instead they invested hugely in the technology and now it's paying off. Lockheed on the other hand invested hugely in political corruption and marketing and that paid off too for them.

    The idea that a country where the young just want to be on TV for 15 minutes is going to be competetive technologically with one where they want to become doctors and engineers is a joke. We chose to cede technological superiority to China and the cries that "they just stole it" are further proof that we would rather blame others then make the investment necessary to be competetive.

  55. China cannot have mass production of this kind.It will hard time piece of component to produce including the automation.Only the US can do it.

  56. The great jessmo | November 4, 2012 at 11:39 am | Reply

    @ltfunk3 The didn't steal anything Just like they didn't steal the J-11 design right?
    or the Aegis battle management system, or the B-2s engine inlet tech?

    Anyhow Im curious on how the F-35 haters will spins this.

    – The same shape as the F-35 but likely inferior machining and LO tech.
    -Same size BUT heavier.
    -Same shape but less stealthy especially from the rear.
    -Inferior in engine tech. Im not saying this based on a nationalistic agenda, Im saying this because of china's poor record in engine tech.

    Years of people saying things like "the F-35 cant run cant turn and cant climb" and now we discover that the F-35 CAN super-cruise, and its likely this plane wont

    The F-35, while not technically a "supercruising" aircraft, can maintain Mach 1.2 for a dash of 150 miles without using fuel-gulping afterburners.

    "Mach 1.2 is a good speed for you, according to the pilots," O’Bryan said.

    Can we get a good counter point, rebuttle from the anti-F-35 crowd. you seem quiet lately.

  57. >Years of people saying things like "the F-35 cant run cant turn and cant climb" and now we discover that the F-35 CAN super-cruise,

    Cant fight, cant turn, but can run LOL. The JSF is a lame dog just waiting for the next president to put a bullet in it. Dosent matter who gets elected the JSF program is already dead.

    "Where are all the JSF critics when it was claimed the aircraft had superb taxiing performance" LOL

  58. After JSF crashes and burns, Lockmart will quietly recapitalize with a two-engine -A version called "Next Gen Air Superiority Fighter" that has none of the R&D costs and still costs ~90% of the -A's flyaway, and everyone will praise them as heroes.

    It worked for Elco and the Virginia, soo…

  59. If you know anything about stealth you would see right off the bat these aircraft are NOT stealth. It's so obvious, I even wonder if they are capable of supersonic flight. Most all combat is done at a distance now with missiles.If it gets close enough it gets to the heat seeker and than guns. These aircraft have nowhere near the capabilities of even Russian aircraft which are superior. The Russians will not give them their engine technology. So yes these aircraft look good but like Iran they are paper tigers. Not as funny as an F-5 with dual tails but just a much more expensive paper tiger. Without the engines no super cruise or range, they are older engines and probably not even high performance turbofans, maybe turbojets or early versions of turbofans. Their weapons an radars are also very old designs. It's basically something like an F-4 Phantom with a new dress on, that's all. But the DOD will use them as threats that do not exist to get more funding for pet projects and pork of the politicians and generals so they have high paying jobs after they serve.

  60. We in the U.S. brought this on to ourselves.

    We bought into the siren song of laissez-faire capitalism. Our CEOs shipped our jobs and technology to China in pursuit of the big fat $$$$ sign, money that they stuffed in Cayman Island accounts to escape the IRS.

    Greed is good — for China. We are the ones that made China Inc what it is today.

  61. The copying is obvious: the aerodynamic profile, wings and DSI inlets (F-35), non-moving vertical stabilizers (F-22). Where is Chinese ideas?
    Unlike the Russia's PAK-FA, J-31 is not an original design.

  62. Bill Sweetman, editor for the US-based Aviation Week magazine, wrote on his blog that the J-31 is a JSF (F-35) without the constraints imposed by the requirements of the F-35's Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant, which effectively limited the weapon bay volume and shape of all F-35 models.
    "It looks as if the engines are to the rear of the bulkhead that carries the main landing gear…the designers have been able to install long weapon bays," he commented on the J-31.
    "If you ever wondered what a JSF (F-35) might look without those constraints, we now have a live, physical example. Unfortunately…it is Chinese," Sweetman wrote.

  63. they have the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for all the toys now

  64. Nice photoshop. Those airplanes are not actually flying in the video. They are still shots that someone has tried to make into a motion video.

  65. H-LL, I can see it, I thought it was stealth tech. This look like just another jet painted blue.

  66. #thievsagainst USA# | November 10, 2012 at 7:20 am | Reply

    They are the biggest thives just as the Russians are of US Military Technology. What a joke I hope that they have a Nuke Meltdown and wipes out half of their military. Well As for Russia they can learn from one that happen in 1989.

  67. child boy will live in the year 7000 future time the plane will bea real propulsion system not floating mobile emitter. childs bank account will be 4400 every 27 days coast to coast without id check. picture of the plane wont be 3d art a real propulsion system!!!! rat6s and bunnies will owna ufo with 110,000 mile nature park antigravity orb will drop yummy food and stuff for the beloved friends

  68. Hopefully it works better than the last electronic iPad clone I saw in Beijing recently.
    It might LOOK like an F22, (like the Russian Buran looked like the space shuttle) but I'd bet it isn't as capable. Now, if they build a zillion of the things………

  69. Anything that flies can be made to look as if it has advanced capabilities that it may well not have. This approach to aircraft design particularly in wartime, is almost as old as the Wright brothers, but is always employed in wartime to impress as well as intimidate. While there may be entry level electronics, composites and engine technologies, a lot more goes into the giant matrix of advanced aircraft design. There may be a little re-bar and rice paper in this one. Considering China still operates about 1500 steam locomotives, South Korea, Japan and the US may not have much to worry about for decades to come.

  70. Quantity can trump quality so often in war! Simply produce and deploy enough cheaper less effective lower quality bullets/bombs/tanks/nukes etc at a target (US) and all our ultra expensive ultra trick and high tech versions of same can be quite simply overwhelmed by sheer numbers! By spending pennies on the dollar one can deploy 50 times the force in sheer numbers totally overwhelming one's defensive capabilities EVEN when maybe only half of the junk works as designed! Not only that but if your enemy has over a BILLION people, why they can easily lose even three quarters of their population and still have a large population left! Think about that one! I mean do their leaders really CARE about anyone else much than their own survival and standard of living? Hitler wound up confessing he hated the German people once he realized that they did not serve his needs any longer! Thankfully those Nazi egomaniacs fell prey to exactly what I speak of …they were so proud of their high tech ultra expensive high quality military machine that they were overwhelmed by things like lesser quality US and Soviet tanks which were produced in much higher quantity! How many air to air missles can each F22 defend against? Only X number is all … so 20:1 inferior Chinese aircraft lose half their planes for each kill …who cares when they cost pennies on the dollar to produce in comparison! Add to that the likelyhood that their government (who controlls their media) will have headlines read something like "Heroic Chinese fighter pilots quickly and easily blast American devils from the skies without losing a single Chinese aircraft!" But seriously I am not pessimistic because God is in control and is righteous. Anything we get, we also richly deserve and besides God Himself is going to take this whole crooked world out soon enough ..and THAT is what we ought to talk about and worry about rather than the latest greatest weapon systems!

  71. I for one not worried. It takes a lot more than just tech (which is still inferior as the US stealth fighter program has a 20 year head start starting with the f117),. Where is Chinas' force pprojection capability? They only recently joined the worlds carrier club and its not even fully operational, with tons of trials down the road. Even if they ever did catch up with force projection, they have neither the experience nor the logistical capabilities to truly e called a world power militarily. LAstly, the chinese are smart, why compete on par militarily when you can just do so economically? China gives money to te US but repayment is in the form of face and looking the other way for shit like Ugyar and Tibet

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