Friday, December 1, 2023

FC-31 stealth fighter closes in on Chinese air force

Developed by the Shenyang company, the 5th generation FC-31 Gyr falcon fighter has experienced many adventures since its first flight in October 2012. Initially designed as a response to the American F-35, this 16.8 m long fighter for 12 meters wingspan is much more compact than the imposing J-20, 3 meters longer, and above all heavier by more than 7 tonnes at takeoff at 32 tonnes, while the FC-31 aimed at 25 tonnes, placing the aircraft in the category of Rafale and F-35. But where the J-20 met an expectation of the Chinese air forces, the FC-31 was initially only intended for export, the armies of Beijing being very satisfied with the J-10, J-11, J-15 and J-16 and 4th generation to modernize alongside the J-20. Furthermore, the performance of the prototypes initially presented by Shenyang quickly proved to be lower than expected, and in 2014, the manufacturer undertook a thorough redesign of its device.

The new design was presented for the first time in 2015 at the Dubai AirShow, with a redesigned wing, tailplanes and air intakes, but the first photos of the new prototype in flight only began to circulate in 2019 on Chinese social networks, notably showing the addition of WS-13E engines, derived from the Russian Klimov RD-93 engine which initially powered the aircraft (as well as the Mig-29 and the JF-17) and offering a thrust of 10 KN 15% higher than the 85 KN of the original RD-93. The on-board electronics were also largely modernized, with a gauss cockpit, a new generation helmet viewfinder and a new IRST (Infra-Red Search and Track). This new design seems to have convinced the Chinese naval forces , who announced, in a manner that could not be more confusing it is true, that the aircraft had been selected in its on-board naval version to operate alongside the J-15s on its aircraft carriers. Type 003 and later with catapults.

FC31 China Defense News | Fighter aircraft | Military aircraft construction
In its new version, the FC31 saw its wing intakes, its wing and its rear tail redesigned, and received new WS-13E engines 15% more powerful than the original RD-93.

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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