How soon will China have a carrier-based stealth fighter?
Analysts say the carrier-based stealth fighter will not be completed for at least two years, depending on how long it takes to complete its flight deck and install the technology, as well as train staff and pilots. Maybe early or later China will have a carrier-based stealth fighter.
I wasn’t going to answer this because the answer is pretty easy to find with Google, but after seeing 3 answers that are out of touch with reality, I have to answer.
The answer is very soon. Maybe as early as 2024. The aircraft is currently called J-XY. It doesn’t have an official designation yet. It is usually called J-31 or J-35 on the internet.
How mature is J-XY? Quite grown up actually. It was derived from a private project by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC). This project is known as FC-31. It first flew in 2012. Reportedly, SAC secured funding from the government in 2018 to develop a state-of-the-art naval aircraft based on the FC-31. The project progressed quickly as the FC-31 was already a fairly advanced aircraft with many flying prototypes. There are many pre-production J-XY models that indicate the aircraft is already in the low-speed initial production stage.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) probable testing of the carrier-based FC-31 prototype also suggests a possible development timeline for the aircraft. The first production J-15 and J-20 fighters reached units in 2014 and 2016, both five to six years after the first test flights of the prototype. Using a similar timeline for the likely test flights of the carrier-based FC-31 in late 2021 would mean the first production models could be in service as early as 2026. While many factors could push that timeline slightly earlier or much later, it would be reasonable to expect PLAN to build a fifth-generation carrier-based fighter by the end of the decade. Between the hints from the FC31 designer and the appearance of these aircraft at Huangdicun, it is likely that more information will be released soon to further clarify the PLAN’s ( People’s Liberation Army Navy) intent and timelines.
It was around 2015 that the J-20 came of age like this. It was put into operation 2 years later. 2024 will also be the year when the new aircraft carrier Fujian will be commissioned. I think 2024-2025 is a very reasonable expectation for J-XY functionality, a carrier-based stealth fighter.
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