Meet the China New Stealth FC-31 Fighter
The FC-31 is a stealthy, single-seat, twin-engine, medium-sized multi-role fighter aircraft with stealth, situational awareness, high mobility, and highly integrated logistics, according to the company. The aircraft is expected to be affordably priced in order to attract overseas consumers.
Zhan Qiang, Deputy General Manager of China’s state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC), appears to have made substantial progress in investigating the foreign weapons market, with the FC-31 as the main product to be delivered.
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The FC-31 airframes were certainly full-sized, with internal weapons bays, and capable of being developed into a proper fifth-generation fighter; however, producing such a fighter would necessitate significant additional development work on the aircraft’s avionics and weapons suites, as well as the development of maintenance and infrastructure facilities, as well as significantly more flight and systems testing, among other things – all of which would cost a lot of money. The PLA had not expressed interest in the FC-31 (or a derivative of the FC-31) at the time, therefore the project lacked PLA commitment and finance, and no foreign governments had the money or commitment to sponsor the development of the FC-31 into a mission-ready fighter for export.
As a result, it’s unlikely that AVIC, SAC, or the Chinese government ever intended to promote the FC-31 as a dedicated export fifth-generation fighter. The FC-31, on the other hand, was undoubtedly valuable in revealing AVIC’s intention to construct a future fifth-generation fighter for export, as well as initiating conversations with possible buyers to gauge interest.
Despite the aircraft’s lack of economic success, the manufacturer continues to modify and advertise it on a regular basis. At the Airshow China 2021 in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, an FC-31 mock-up was displayed with mockups of the PL-15E beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.
China’s J-20 stealth fighter plane uses the same missile. The PL-15E has a maximum range of 145 kilometers and is guided by inertial navigation, satellite navigation, datalink, and active radar.