China has reportedly become the second nation after the US to have field tested two fifth-generation stealth fighters.
Its defense industry’s ability to run overlapping advanced programmes sees Shenyang Aircraft Corporation alone responsible for four major fighter aircraft. How the Chinese have pieced them together is for another story, however. The current king of the roost is the already combat-ready Lockheed Martin F22 Raptor, in service since 2005. Check out the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation’s 沈阳飞机公司 English site here (one may not find much there, it seems to be updated till 2009 though, unlike the Chinese site which is updated to 2012).
For a video of the takeoff, check out J-31 fighter roars off on maiden flight on China.org.cn. Incidentally, the J31 is named Falcon Eagle 鹘鹰 in Chinese.
Some online speculation from AIN Online, November 2, 2012 : The aircraft does not carry Chinese Air Force insignia, but instead has a Sea Eagle badge on the tail and fuselage. This, together with the double-wheel nose landing gear, has led Chinese commentators to speculate that the J-31 is intended to fly from China’s new aircraft carrier. However, no tail hook was visible in the images of the first flight that appeared on Chinese websites.
Also – see Wall Street Journal’s China Realtime Report- Taking Off: Implications of China’s Second Stealth Fighter Test Flight. The 172 comments (correct as of November 6, 2012) are worth a read as well.
China’s fighter aircraft development efforts appeared to take another leap forward after local media reported that Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) had successfully tested its J-31 stealth fighter prototype this week. Following the test flight of a Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) J-20 prototype less than two years ago, the test of the J-31 suggests China could eventually become only the second country behind the U.S. to develop two stealth fighter programs – an important development with serious potential implications for the tactical aircraft export market and well as the U.S. military. By Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins for the WSJ, 2012
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Flight tests on China’s air carrier confirmed by Ministry of Defense
by Xu Tianran
Source – Global Times, published November 5, 2012
Military authorities confirmed Sunday that carrier-based jets have been conducting take-off and landing training on the country’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning.
According to an official report released by the Ministry of Defense, jets have practiced touch-and-go landings, a maneuver that involves landing on the flight deck of the carrier and taking off again without coming to a stop.
It is the first time Chinese authorities have acknowledged that jet pilots have been training on the Liaoning.
Online photos from unofficial sources have shown that the Shenyang J-15 carrier-based fighter has made at least several fly-bys above the carrier and military experts have long speculated that touch-and-go landings are being practiced by pilots.
Lan Yun, editor of the Beijing-based Modern Ships magazine, said touch-and-go landings are the last step in primary training for carrier-based fighter pilots.
“In real operations, if pilots judge they cannot complete a landing, they must immediately open full afterburner and takeoff from the flight deck again,” Lan said, “The touch-and-go landings enable the pilots to experience the feeling of a carrier landing and takeoff, and train them to properly handle failed landings,” he said.
A Chinese naval expert told the People’s Daily Online on October 19 that touch-and-go exercises enable pilots to overcome fear factors.
Actual carrier landings and take-offs might take place within months, Lan predicted, adding that combat capability will only be achieved after pilots can properly coordinate and carry out different tactical missions.
Monday’s ministry announcement came a day after photos of a two-seat land/sea attack variant of the J-15 carrier-based fighter, also developed by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC), were uploaded to the Internet.
Web users also claimed the two-seat fighter made its maiden flight at Shenyang on Saturday, two days after the maiden flight of SAC’s first stealth fighter which outsiders call the “J-31.” Major military news outlets reposted the photos immediately.
If the maiden flight of the two-seat variant turns out of be true, it means a boost for the potential strike ability of China’s future carrier-based jet fleet, Lan said, noting that two-seat variant is more suitable for ground attack missions.
Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo said in an interview with the China Central Television that the Chinese navy will focus on the development of aircraft carriers and carrier-based fighters, new destroyers and frigates, submarines and land-based strike fighters.