China is reportedly testing another stealth fighter jet called the J-31. The newly spotted stealth fighter will be China’s second such plane, following the long-rumored existence of the J-20 stealth fighter. According to CNN, the J-31 was test flown Tuesday this week in Shenyang, a city in northeastern China. The photo, as seen above, was reportedly leaked by unknown officials in China. John Pike, the Director of GlobalSecurity.org, says that the photos are most likely “official” because nobody else can get that close to the stealth, unless it’s a photographer approved by the local government.
“These are all publicity photos from the factory, and I could not imagine that the factory would publicize these things without somebody higher up in the food chain authorizing it,” Pike added. But Richard Fisher from the International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC) believes that the presumably leaked photos were not secretly released. Instead, Fisher thinks that the reason for its release is to promote pro-military nationalism in China.
“The J-20 is the heavy stealth fighter, (The J-31) is going to be the medium-weight stealth fighter. It’s very much in the same vein as the F-22 versus the F-35, with the F-22 Raptor being the heavy fifth-generation fighter for the U.S. Air Force versus the medium-weight F-35,” Fisher adds.
Meanwhile, both experts have different predictions surrounding the J-31’s operability. Pike thinks that the Chinese stealth fighter will enter operational service 15 years from now, while Fisher estimates that the J-31 will start entering squadron service in four to five years. What’s your take?