China`s second stealth fighter makes maiden flight
Beijing: China`s second stealth fighter, a middle-sized fighter using Russian thrust engines, made its maiden flight on Wednesday, state-run media reported on Thursday.
Experts promptly hailed it as a milestone for the country`s military aviation industry, especially in design and manufacturing.
With provisional designation J-31 and serial number 31001, the fighter took off at 10.32 am on Wednesday and landed 11 minutes later on the runway of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC), Liaoning province, a witness told the Global Times.
Major military news websites confirmed the maiden flight after witnesses uploaded photos and described the event on defence forums.
Compared with the heavy fighter J-20, the J-31 is a middle-sized fighter using Russian middle-thrust engines. It will, however, later be equipped with Chinese-made WS-13 engines, the daily cited Combat Aircraft Monthly as reporting.
"Just like the US F-22 and F-35 fifth-generation fighters, the J-20 and J-31 will complement each other during future operations," Bai Wei, the former deputy editor of the Aviation World weekly, told the Chinese daily.
"The J-31 is almost certainly designed with the intention to have the potential of operating on aircraft carriers, judging from its enhanced double-wheel nose landing gear and two big tail wings, which help increase vertical stability," Bai was quoted as saying.
He added the J-31 may replace or supplement China`s first land-based fighter, the J-15.
The daily pointed out that the two stealth fighters have made China, after the US, the second country to develop two fifth-generation fighters.
"China needs both heavy fighters and cheaper, smaller ones to defend its vast airspace," said Bai. He added that the J-31 may also aim for export market.
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