After The Fifth-Gen J-20, Why Is China Planning To Build A 4th-Gen Stealth Fighter

China, which boasts a fleet of advanced fifth-generation J-20 fighter jets, is now developing a fourth-generation, carrier-capable stealth aircraft, according to reports.

China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), recently unveiled its plans to build a new fourth-generation fighter.

“The company aims to make breakthroughs in its fourth-generation fighter jet program by boosting related technologies, including additive manufacturing, control over surface electromagnetic defects, and automated fiber placement so that the aircraft can be successfully developed,” said Shenyang Aircraft Corporation in a statement.

According to reports, the new fourth-generation fighter jet will be competing against China’s own fifth-generation fighters like the Chinese J-20, the American F-22 Raptors, and the Russian Su-57 fighters, despite being a generation lower.

Image result for Shenyang FC-31
A Chinese J-31 fighter jet

Shenyang is also researching technologies like a thermal adaptation for the new fighter jet.

“A technological system for the next-generation aircraft will be gradually formed as the company conducts test production and research,” said the company statement.

So far, no statement has been released by the company regarding the name of the new fighter jet. However, it has released photos of the J-31 ‘Gyrfalcon’ fighter jet, which is also developed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation.

Also known as the Shenyang FC-31 or J-35, the J-31 fighter is a multi-role, twin-engine, mid-size fourth-generation stealth fighter meant for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

The combat aircraft, which took its maiden flight in 2012, is the second indigenous stealth fighter built after the Chengdu J-20.

According to military experts, the J-31 has been designed to provide advanced defense capabilities in close-air support, aerial bombing, and air interdiction operations, while also being able to perform suppression of enemy air defenses.

As per Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, Shenyang could have chosen to include photos of the J-31 as the new carrier-capable fighter could be an improved version of the J-31 fighter.  

“The Chinese Navy needs a more advanced fighter jet on its aircraft carriers in the future, and the FC-31, when customized for that purpose, would be a good choice,” Wang told state-owned Global Times.

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