Friday, November 2, 2012

China flies it's second 5th generation fighter

If the photos are true, China has flown it's newest 5th generation fighter, the J-31
Photos of China’s latest stealth fighter, the J-31, started appearing across aviation blogs in early October. Then reports surfaced that the J-31, built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, completed its first test flight Wednesday morning in northeastern China.

The J-31 executed the test flight escorted by a J-11 Chinese fighter if the photos from the event are to be believed. The Chinese government has yet to put out an official statement confirming the test. Chinese military officials have kept most details about their stealth aviation program tight lipped.

J-31 photos indicate the fighter is significantly smaller than the J-20 — the other stealth fighter the Chinese unveiled. Aviation experts have speculated the J-31 could be used more so as an interceptor or a carrier-based aircraft. Thus, the J-20 would be used as a strike aircraft targeting ships and ground targets as it could hold more missiles. 
Here's one of the photos:

 One of the more important points in all of this, given the reports are true, is that both of our potential adversaries are well into programs of their own developing 5th generation fighters.  They're not content to keep or upgrade a 4th generation fleet and it remains a mystery to most why some critics think that's the way the US should go.

While the J-31 is obviously designed to be a stealth aircraft, no one knows of it's other capabilities.  Unlike the F-35, we have no idea as to whether it has the advanced capabilities that our 5th generation aircraft will have.  Stealth, of course, is only one aspect of the US's 5th generation effort.

But, when all is said and done, pretending that legacy airframes that were designed in the last century  and are older than their pilots are going to be adequate in the future is just the wrong course to pursue.

And the picture above, is worth 1,000 words making that point.


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