Expert: External Attachment Points of J-31 Stealth Fighter Will Facilitate Exports
(Source: China Military Online; issued September 6, 2016)
BEIJING --- A scale model of China’s newest J-31 stealth fighter was on display at the 15th China International Equipment Manufacturing Exposition in Shenyang, Liaoning province on Sept 1.

Xu Yongling, a famous test pilot believed that the J-31 fighter is not likely to join the PLA Air Force and instead, it is likely to be transformed into the carrier-based aircraft.

Besides, the J-31 is designed for the international market and it is likely to gain some market share in the future, he added.

The J-31 is a fourth-generation medium stealth fighter manufactured by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, an affiliate of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). It is the second stealth fighter that China has indigenously developed after the J-20 fighter and its maiden test flight was completed on October 31, 2012.

Now, China has overtaken Russia, becoming the second country in the world who has two fourth-generation fighter jets in test flight period after the United States.

Some people asked that as a stealth aircraft, why does J-31 have external attachment points?

Xu Yongling believed that J-31 is designed for the international market. However, there are not many countries in the world who can afford fourth-generation fighter jets and J-31 has to compete against T-50 of Russia and F-35 of the U.S. in the international market.

In this way, the target markets of J-31 are countries with third-generation fighter jets and have the need to upgrade their aircraft.

With that said, J-31 must fulfill the expectations of fourth-generation fighter jets while still inherit technological traditions of third-generation fighter jets. Only in this way can J-31 expand the export market. In the future, Xu continued, it is likely that J-31 gains some market share in the international market.

Based on the photo of the J-31 model on the Internet, some media reported that the missiles under the wings of the model are KD-88 air-to-surface missile, YJ-91 supersonic missile and China' homegrown short-range air-to-air missiles.

Xu said that such speculations are more or less correct as these missiles are often used by Chinese fighter jets in air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea operations.

In recent years, China has made great progress in air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons and their performance has been basically stable after live-fire testing, thus, the J-31 will become multi-functional, Xu added.

Some media also reported that J-31 is similar to U.S. Air Force's F-35 as the two both have dual tires on the front landing gear, and thus some experts guessed the aircraft is likely to have carrier-based model in the future.

Xu pointed out that J-31 is not likely to join the PLA Air Force and instead, it is likely to be transformed into the carrier-based aircraft.

"In the future, if the domestic aircraft carrier is equipped with several such aircraft, it will certainly help to improve the combat capability of the carrier battle group. But if we really want J-31 on the ship, we will have to wait for at least three to five years," said Xu.

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