Intl Interest in China's FC-31 Stealth Fighter Jet Grows
(Source: Global Times; issued June 13, 2019)
China's made-for-export FC-31 warplane is making a big impression, as reports say international buyers are thinking of buying the stealth fighter jet, with Chinese military experts recommending on Tuesday that China try to seize these opportunities.

The FC-31 boasts very similar capabilities to the US' F-35 fighter jets, making it a viable option for weapons buyers, experts said.

Turkey is considering purchasing China's FC-31 and Russia's Su-57 to replace the US' F-35 stealth fighter jet, as Turkey seems determined to procure the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, Weihutang, a military column affiliated with China Central Television, reported on Monday, citing Turkish media.

The report came after the US threatened Turkey, saying it will not deliver the 100 F-35As to Turkey as planned if Turkey accepts delivery of the Russian air defense system, US media outlet Defense News reported on Friday.

Potential international buyers' attention on the FC-31 is a good thing, and China should push for such opportunities to export the warplane, Xu Guangyu, a senior consultant at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Potential buyers like Turkey may need a huge number of stealth fighter jets, and they could purchase both FC-31 and Su-57 if they do not get the F-35s, Xu said, noting that neither China nor Russia is likely capable of manufacturing as many as a hundred stealth fighter jets for export in a short time.

China's FC-31, Russia's Su-57 and the US' F-35 are the only three stealth fighter jets available on the international arms market.

Developed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the FC-31 is a fifth generation medium-sized twin-engine multirole stealth fighter jet intended for export.

It made its public debut flight at Airshow China 2014 in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province, but relatively little was heard of it after that. Analysts said it is being upgraded and could serve as China's next generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet in the future.

"The Chinese stealth fighter jet has not yet entered mass production or military service. This means it is still being improved. In a year or two, it will likely be built with many more new and advanced technologies," Xu said.

The FC-31 is very similar to the F-35 in terms of its comprehensive tactical capabilities, and thanks to late-mover advantages, it might become even better, Xu said.

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