China's Latest Stealth Fighter Jet 'J-31B' Ready for Military Service

China’s Latest Stealth Fighter Jet ‘J-31B’ Ready for Military Service

China Central Television (CCTV) suggests that China’s newest stealth fighter jet, the J-31B, is ready for military service. This development marks a significant milestone in China’s aviation capabilities and could potentially alter the balance of air power in the region.

Beijing-based military analyst Fu Qianshao interprets these labels as an indication that the fighter, developed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) over more than a decade, is now ready for operational use.

The transformation from its previous FC-31 designation (used for the export market) to J-31 signifies that it has met formal military service requirements and received an official designation.

Also read this: Pakistan’s JF-17 Aircraft A New Chapter in Nuclear Deterrence

The J-31, also known as the FC-31 or J-35, is designed as a fifth-generation stealth fighter for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and potentially for export markets. Its development journey began with its maiden flight in 2012, followed by a public unveiling at the 2014 Zhuhai Airshow. The aircraft is positioned as China’s equivalent to the American F-35 Lightning II.

With the J-31B entering service, China would become the second country after the United States to have two types of stealth aircraft in its military arsenal. This achievement underscores China’s rapid advancements in military aviation technology.

There has been speculation about the J-31’s potential role in naval operations. In 2013, chief designer Sun Cong expressed hope that a variant of the jet would follow the J-15 on PLA Navy aircraft carriers. The official Xinhua News Agency reported in 2015 that the J-31 could complement the J 20 fighter jets in aerial combat and partner with the J-15 as a carrier-based aircraft.

The exact intended use of the J-31B remains unclear. Fu notes that the “B” code suggests multiple variants may exist, but it’s uncertain whether this particular model is designed for carrier-based, land-based, or export purposes. Military analyst Shi Hong suggests that the single-wheeled nose landing gear design shown in the video is more suitable for land-based operations than carrier-based ones.

A notable feature of the J-31B is its side-mounted weapons bays, which Shi Hong points out as a first for this variant. Each bay can carry two missiles, potentially enhancing its combat capabilities beyond those of the US F-22 Raptor and China’s J-20, which can only carry one missile on each side.

The J-31’s development has garnered international attention. A model of the FC-31 was displayed at the World Defense Show in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, with a Chinese official indicating it would soon be operational. Additionally, Pakistan’s air force chief stated in January that his country was on track to acquire the fifth generation FC-31 Gyrfalcon.

As China continues to advance its military aviation capabilities, the introduction of the J-31B into service represents a significant step forward. It not only enhances China’s air combat capabilities but also potentially shifts the strategic balance in the region. The international community will undoubtedly be watching closely as more details about this advanced fighter jet emerge and its impact on global military dynamics becomes clearer.

Keep connected with us at FacebookTwitterYouTubeInstagram & TikTok for latest defense happening around the globe.

© International Defence Analysis | All Rights Reserved