J-31 Gryfalcon News

Başlatan Karabasan, Kas 03, 2017, 11:29 ÖÖ

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The Shenyang J-31 Gyrfalcon: China's Joint Strike Fighter?

The Shenyang J-31 Falcon Eagle or Gyrfalcon (or "FC-31 fifth Generation Multi-Purpose Medium Fighter"), is China's second stealth fighter jet.

The first prototype of the aircraft performed its maiden flight on Oct 31, 2012, and made a public appearance on Nov. 12, 2014 at Zhuhai Airshow.

Gyrfalcon is China's multirole, (claimed) low-observable tactical aircraft roughly analogous, in mission if not in capability, to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It is intended for export to partner nations, it boasts a supposed low-observable configuration, is slated to be built in a naval/aircraft carrier (although not STOVL) and is claimed to be able to perform both the precision strike and air-to-air role.

The aircraft may have had some teething problems in early development.

The vertical stabilizer configuration was completely reworked from early versions that seemed to mimic the twin tails of an F-22. The J-31 has since been seen in its newest version with a swept-back twin tail.

The latest version of the J-31 was seen last year on December 26, 2016, during its first flight: it was significantly re-worked, heavier (three tons more) and at least 20-inches longer than the early prototypes according to most sources.

The latest J-31 variant appears to be a more completely developed tactical aircraft with an Infra-red search and track ball passive sensor (IRST ball).

The wings have been re-worked into a claimed lower radar cross-section shape and new engines have been installed that provide greater thrust to compensate for the additional weight. The new engines are also smokeless, a significant tactical necessity. There are also claimed improvements to its search and targeting radar. Chinese officials and media have hinted at some sensor-fusion capability to hand-off targets to other aircraft and perhaps weapons assets, as with the F-35s capability to direct weapons. Perhaps the most significant claimed future capability project for 2019 is re-engining the J-31 with indigenous WS-19 turbofan engines, providing supercruise capability without afterburner. The U.S. F-22 has supercruise but the F-35 does not.

Finally, the J-31 Gyrfalcon is a twin-engine aircraft to the F-35s single engine.


China's J-31 stealth fighter gets an improved prototype--and a potential future on a carrier  1 May 2017

The improved J-31 stealth fighter prototype has been ramping up its test flights in April 2017, adding fuel to speculation that it will become the stealth fighter for Chinese aircraft carriers.
Back in October 2012, China became the second country in the world (after the United States) to have multiple fifth-generation stealth programs, as the first FC-31/J-31 stealth fighter (FC-31 is the export designation) made its maiden flight. Built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC), the twin-engine J-31 is roughly the same size as the American F-35, with a range of 775 miles, a maximum takeoff weight of 28 tons, and a Mach 1.8 top speed. If it enters Chinese service, it would replace single-engine J-10s as a medium fighter, and possibly become a stealth fighter on China's aircraft carriers.

Initially, there have been substantial doubts about the viability of the J-31 program. The first prototype did not fly with advanced avionics like an infrared search and track (IRST) sensor and stealth features like swept vertical stabilizers, suggesting its role to be a proof of concept for testing SAC's stealth technology, and hopefully attract buyers. More tellingly, while SAC pitched the J-31 as an export fifth generation fighter at domestic and international air shows, neither the PLAAF nor foreign buyers showed firm interest in the project, leaving its viability uncertain.
This uncertainty held until the second, improved prototype first flew on December 26, 2016. The new J-31 prototype is three tons heavier and about 20 inches longer than the original technology demonstrator; it also had key improvements like an IRST sensor, stealthier wings, cleaner burning engines, and an improved radar. In addition to avionics and datalinks that enable sensor fusion, SAC officials state that the production J-31s (which could appear soon as 2019) could have supercruise capability, giving them a leg up over current F-35 fighters. Its WS-13 engines would be replaced by domestic WS-13E or WS-19 turbofan engines to give it that advantage in speed. The combination of the J-31's high speed performance, and suggested payload of 6 PL-12 or 4 PL-21 long range air to air missiles suggests that the J-31 has been optimized as an air superiority fighter, though it can be fitted with a wide array of Chinese precision guided munitions like the LS smart bombs.

The Shenyang "Gyrfalcon" J-31 stealth fighter, China's second stealth fighter program, is speculated to have a possible carrier-capable configuration, with folding wings and reinforced landing gear.

There's been talk on Chinese Internet messaging boards suggesting that SAC has recently won government funding for a J-31 carrier version, which could be larger than the initial prototypes (the carrier capable F-35C is also larger than the basic F-35A variant), in order to increase range, payload, and structural strength for the stress of carrier flight operations. SAC also plans to unveil a model of the third prototype of the J-31 at the 2017 Paris Air Show, possibly aimed at Middle Eastern buyers unable to purchase the politically sensitive F-35.

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Chinese companies are racing to build the best stealth fighters for China's next-generation aircraft carriers

- Developers at Chengdu Aerospace are working on shorter version of J-20 to make it suitable for use with next-generation catapult launch systems, insiders say.

- The FC-31, being developed by sister company, is already shorter but some experts say it is not as robust.

The companies behind China's J-20 and FC-31 fighter planes are going head to head in the race to develop the stealth jet of choice for the navy's next-generation aircraft carriers, military sources said.

And for the engineers working on the former, the biggest challenge could be making the new version of the jet short enough to work with the catapult launch systems currently being developed for use on the giant vessels.

The J-20 was designed and built by Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, while the FC-31 is being developed by its sister company Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, which also produced the J-15, which is already in service.

Despite reports on social media saying a decision had been made to use the FC-31, the sources said the matter was far from resolved.

"The navy has yet to decide which one they prefer as both the J-20 and the FC-31 have their advantages and weaknesses," one of the sources said.

Another military insider said that engineers in Chengdu were working on a shorter version of the J-20 -- the current version of which is 22 metres (72 feet) long -- so it would work with the new launch system. By comparison, the FC-31 is only about 17 metres in length.

Although the J-20 is two metres shorter than the J-15, the latter is deployed on carriers that have ski-jump launch systems rather the new catapults.

According to the latest edition of Naval and Merchant Ship magazine, the J-20's basic design makes it well suited to working at sea and the jet could be modified to work as a carrier-based fighter.

Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong agreed.

"If the J-15 can be a ship-borne aircraft, why can't the smaller J-20?" he said.

The J-15, China's first and only active carrier-based fighter jet, is based on a prototype of the third-generation Russian Sukhoi Su-33 fighter, a design that is more than 30 years old.

The J-20 joined the PLA air force in 2017, six years after its maiden flight. The FC-31 made its first test flight in 2012 but has yet to be set a commission date.

While current versions of the FC-31 and J-20 are equipped with Russian-design engines or variants of them, future models will use engines built wholly in China.

"For example, the FC-31 uses the medium thrust WS-13 engine, a modified variant on a Russian engine developed in the late 1970s," the source said.

"In China, those engines are only used by old aircraft like the J-7A bombers, which will soon be retired," he said, adding that developing engines for the FC-31 carrier-based fighters would add to their cost.

"Future versions of the J-20 will be equipped with the domestically developed WS-15, an afterburning turbofan engine whose thrust is similar to the engines that power more advanced aircraft like the J-15, J-10, J-11 and others."

The newest versions of the J-20, with its advanced supersonic and manoeuvring capabilities, are capable of competing with the United States' F-22, and the F-35s used by Japan and South Korea, naval expert Li Jie said.

The FC-31 is also a stealth jet but cannot carry as many missiles as the J-20.

Another military insider said China had built about 50 J-15s, which was enough to meet the requirements of its two in-service aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and the Type 001A.

Li said the J-15 would remain in service for at least another decade while the next-generation carrier-based fighter jet was in development.
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