China’s Air Force test pilot expert Xu Yongling points out that the J-31′s stealth aerodynamic design, stealth engine design and stealth coating design have all reached internationally advanced standards in stealth technology. He also pointed out that the J-31 possesses both stealth capability and a considerable payload level. In addition, Xu Yongling says that China has its own considerations in the development of fourth-generation aircraft, taking account not only of the need for stealth, but also of its performance in air-to-ground and air-to-air combat, and the relevant weapons requirements. This means that in payload, the J-31 will prevail over the F-35.
Domestic fourth-generation aircraft target the export market
A landmark in international military aviation history, the fourth-generation stealth aircraft will not only have a great impact on combat strategy, but also exercise a tremendous influence on geopolitics, especially on international relations and the geo-strategic situation in the Asia-Pacific region. The stealth fighter has gone beyond a simple weapons platform; its presence is now an indication of the balances and the strategic considerations at play among different countries. It could be said that the high-tech weapon systems represented by stealth fighters are becoming a new variable in the Sino-US strategic game.
Experts predict that the J-31 will make rapid inroads in the international market in the future, and will undoubtedly steal the limelight from the F-35. China’s fourth-generation aircraft will become a new option for those countries which have not yet made the decision to purchase the F-35. In particular for those countries which are excluded from access to U.S. arms exports, China’s fourth generation aircraft will certainly be attractive. The J-31, with its main target as the export market, represents a serious threat to U.S. arms manufacturers.
J-31 can be part of an aircraft carrier’s payload.
Earlier this year, the chief architect of the J-31 fighter Sun Cong revealed that the improved version of the J-31 is expected to become China’s next generation of carrier-based aircraft.
Analysts believe that the J-31 fighter can act as a carrier-borne aircraft. One of the important factors affecting this question is the configuration of the landing gear. The front landing gear of the J-31 is designed with double wheels (the J-20, which is twice the weight, only has single front wheel), while the back landing gear adopts a dogleg structure – both these features provide strong supporting capacity and excellent shock resistance. Considering that a carrier-borne aircraft requires the ability to withstand a greater impact when landing on an aircraft carrier than when landing on land, the J-31 seems designed to meet the requirements of a carrier-borne landing.
In addition, it has recently been reported that if the J-31 is deployed on the aircraft carrier, it may combine in light-weight battle formations with the early-service J-15.