Military Review

J-31: prospects for the fleet, the Air Force and export sales. Bias opinion Xu Yonglin


The 5 J-31 multi-role fighter is planned to be equipped with an optical-electronic sighting TV / high-resolution IR system similar to that used on the F-35A AAQ-40 EOTS (optical-transparent yellowish turret under the nose radome radome)


The irrefutable power, versatility, and decent stealth of the promising multi-purpose tactical fighter J-20 from Chengdu has been a fact for about 5 years. Representing a sophisticated constructive aerodynamic hybrid of a prototype of the Russian advanced MFI fighter (“1.44 product”), C-37, and American F-35A “Lightning II” and F-22A “Raptor”, J-20 received rather large intra-fuselage volumes under weapons bays, as well as impressive fuel tanks, which fit up to 11,1 tons of fuel. The wing area in 80 м2 (total, together with the front horizontal tail) was added to everything, providing excellent bearing qualities and aerodynamic quality of the 12,2 airframe, which is equivalent to T-50 PAK-FA indicators. As a result, a car with a practical 19-20 km ceiling and a combat radius of action at high altitude up to 1700 — 1800 km were obtained.

Such characteristics are well suited for use over the vast ocean expanses of the Asia-Pacific region, which in recent years has become the main area of ​​deployment of the US Navy. Intended for long-range air combat, interception of various means of air attack, attacking surface ships and island military infrastructure of the Navy and the US Air Force within the first “two chains” described in detail in the White Paper on National Defense of the PLA, “Mighty Dragons” are not are fighters capable of getting involved and winning in any type of air combat; This is especially true for close combat, where the aerodynamic focus and the wing shifted to the tail part do not allow realizing a high reversal speed with a low fighter thrust ratio. For these purposes, the Chinese aircraft industry provides for mass production of another multi-purpose 5 generation fighter - the J-31.


The first prototype of the 5 X-generation J-31 multi-role fighter aircraft took off the 31 of October 2012 of the year from the runway of the test flight center of the new aircraft "Shenfei". The design of its airframe and power plant immediately tells us that the experts of Shenyang Aircraft Corporation sought to create a machine capable of effectively confronting the best unobtrusive fighter aircraft of the USA, Australia, India and Japan in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater of operations. J-31 “Krechet”, due to the wide use of composite materials, turned out to be quite easy: the mass of the empty fighter is 12000 kg, the normal take-off weight is 17500 kg and the maximum take-off weight is 25000 kg (in mass-size class MiG-35). At the same time, the mass of the fuel is 7500 kg, which is approximately 30% more fuel reserves of the MiG-35. Due to this, with equivalent fuel consumption at the maximum of the RD-93 TRDDF (5040 kgf and 0,77 kg / kg * h), the J-31 range reaches 1250 km, in the MiG-35 and F-35A, for example, it reaches 1050 km. The thrust-to-weight ratio at 80% balance of fuel and air-to-weapon configuration is confidently maintained at the level of 0,96 — 1, i.e. fighter can lead a maneuverable battle. The claimed rate of climb is approaching the best Russian and western indicators - 330 m / s.

The engine nacelles are separated by about 1,2 — 1,5 m, which indicates the developer’s desire to endow J-31 with increased survivability in comparison with such fighters as Rafale, Typhoon and even F-22A Raptor. Glider J-31 is a traditional high-end with aerodynamic focus, shifted to the center of the fuselage. This contributes to the high angular velocity of the steady turn in the pitch plane. The machine is lightweight, "nimble", and this gives every reason for the appearance of an additional project of the deck version of the J-31.

The well-known test pilot of the PRC Xu Yonglin talked about this at the 15-th International Exhibition of Machine-Building Equipment in Shenyang. He said that most likely one should not expect the appearance of the J-31 in the Chinese Air Force, but the arrival of the deck version of the fighter into service of the Chinese aircraft carriers is a very predictable event. He also spoke in favor of multibillion-dollar contracts for the supply of J-31 to neighboring countries. Where is the truth in Xu Yonglin's words?

Large-scale production of export versions of the J-31, indeed, is a necessary and justified business, for which, in fact, this ambitious project started. The management of AVIC International Holding Corporation, closely involved in the Big Game, is well aware that numerous South American, Asian and African states, slowly moving away from geopolitical subordination to the States, are increasingly in need of modern tactical aviation for the possible resolution of their own regional conflicts and the simple preservation of the proper level of defense capability in view of the new military threats of the 35st century. Unlike the expensive F-95A (about $ 31 million per unit), the cost of one J-35 can stay at the level of $ 40-2 million, while the combat effectiveness in DVB and strike operations will be only slightly inferior to Lightning -35 ", but in the close air battle the Chinese" Krechet "probably also" makes "the clumsy F-XNUMXA, as Typhoons, Falcons and Strike Needles did pretty well on the exercises.

Of the states that urgently need to upgrade combat aircraft fleet promising fighters, in the first place is Argentina. The air force of this country removed from service all modifications of the Mirage-III and Mirage-5 multi-role fighter jets, due to which its airspace remains defenseless before the same carrier-based naval aviation of the United Kingdom, which the first is still on knives ”regarding the ownership of the Falkland Islands. As is known, Buenos Aires is still considering the question of a forceful return of the archipelago, but so far it does not have military-technical capabilities for this. In June 2016 of the year, after negotiations between Argentina’s Minister of Defense Julio Martinez and French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian, a question was raised about acquiring 12 “Mirage F.1”, as well as more advanced versions of “Mirage-2000” (apparently This is a discussion of 2000-5 / 9 modifications), but the expediency of such a contract seems to have faded in the light of the export of similarly priced JNXX 5 fighters. Imagine for a second a long-range battle between the Mirage and the British carrier-based F-31B: I doubt that the Mirage will be brought closer to the line of use of the Magic-35 and MICA-IR missiles. But the more "stelsovsky" J-2 will actually be ready for such a confrontation and at long distances. Of course, the export version of the “Krechet” is unlikely to receive the latest version of the AFAR-radar available from the Chinese, but the intermediate version installed today on the far from primitive J-31B is quite likely, and, believe me, to be superior to “Typhoon” and F-10B , it may well be enough, because all modern airborne radar with AFAR can detect similar F-35B and EF-35 targets at ranges from 2000 to 50 km. The “Krechety” for the Chinese Navy and Air Force will receive much more advanced radars with an antenna array based on gallium arsenide (GaAs) or gallium nitride (GaN), the latter has a long service life and energy potential for radiation at a lower power consumption from the power source.

One of the first prototypes of multifunctional airborne radar with active phased array for multi-purpose fighter generation "4 ++" J-10B. Later, improved versions of the station can be installed on radically upgraded versions of the J-10C and export J-31

The next contenders for the possession of J-31 may be Iran and Pakistan. The first one recently presented at the Tehran exhibition a very formidable and advanced “Bavar-373” air defense system, built on a Chinese digital and radar element base. And now the Iranian leadership is already thinking about updating the fairly outdated fleet of Russian MiG-35 or Su-30MKI; Chinese stealth fighters can also be considered as an advanced cover, since the FGFA program for Iran is unlikely to be distributed. Here, with India, not everything has become completely clear.

Pakistan may be the first to receive Krechety. First, strengthening the combat potential of its air force from the strategic point of view of the Middle Kingdom: territorial differences between India and China are being accelerated by the FGFA and Super-30 programs, which represent the main threat to Beijing; and the strengthening of Pakistan, which has even greater territorial claims against India, seriously weakens the position of Delhi in the region. Secondly, for the years of 15, Chengdu and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex have been jointly manufacturing and upgrading FC-1 Xiaolong fighter-bomber (JF-17 "Thunder"), and from 5-generation fighters of Islamabad unlikely to refuse. The appearance of the Sino-Pakistani counterweight program for licensed production of J-31 at PAC facilities is not excluded. This program can be developed as an asymmetric response to the success of the Russian-Indian FGFA.

The promotion of Krechetov in the Pakistan Air Force can fill the Chinese treasury with tens of billions of dollars, which will further strengthen the Celestial production facilities, as well as contribute to the development of the missing links of the PLA - strategic low-profile aviation and ultra-low-noise strategic submarines. As is known, the latter belong to the most economically and science-intensive areas of the defense industry.

The next area to promote export J-31 may well be the DPRK. The fleet of the Air Force of this country has hopelessly lagged behind and requires an immediate update, as any joint force action by the US Navy, as well as the Republic of Korea and Japan forces, may call into question the existence of the DPRK as such, even with the horrible retaliation of rocket attacks on the pro-American aggressors. Forcing the People's Republic of China to transfer the North Korean side of modern aviation (including J-31) is quite capable of the neglected situation with the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea, which almost brought Beijing to a boiling point.

Finally, various African states, between which local military conflicts often flare up, or against which aggression is carried out by regional powers (recalling the F-15I airstrike Khel Haavir at a plant in Sudan), also do not mind purchasing a certain number of stealth fighters for "Scaring away" especially clever American "litter".

About the same portfolio of foreign orders for the J-31 in the next decade can get "Chengdu" and AVIC, which clearly justifies the reasoning of the Chinese pilot Xu Yonglin. And what about the internal orders for fleet and the air force?

The naval aviation of China is armed with the most modern generation machines of the 4 + / ++ generation - the single-seater J-15B and the two-seater J-15S. These fighters have outstanding flight performance and onboard avionics that are comparable to the existing Su-30MKI Indian, but Chinese products have power plants without a thrust vector deflection system, which makes it impossible to perform unique super maneuverable aerobatics. J-15S, like their Russian Su-33 counterparts, are capable of “twisting” any NATO deck-based fighter in close combat, but resist effectively in combat beyond visual visibility with the same F-35B or the inconspicuous “Raptors” approaching from the island airbase deckes will not be so easy. In such a reality, there is nothing better than to adopt the J-31 Navy. The low take-off weight of this fighter provides an excellent modernization reserve for designing deck modifications with reinforced structural elements, as well as additional operating options from the deck of an aircraft carrier (reinforced landing gear, landing hook, more complex and massive mechanization of the folding wing). It is logical that the increase in the mass of the “decker” will lead to some loss of the aircraft’s rigidity and maneuverability. In the future, this disadvantage can be eliminated by installing more heavy-duty RD-93MKM RDS-5800 kgf and afterburner 9500 kgf.

Double deck multipurpose fighter generation "4 ++" J-15S

Now regarding the opinion of Xu Yonglin about the uselessness of J-31 in the Air Force of the People's Republic of China. Any opinion must be able to listen and interpret it correctly, but not in this case. The fact is that the Su-27SKM, Su-30MKK / MK2 and J-10A / B, which are in service with the PRC Air Force, are neither inconspicuous nor OWT. Most of these vehicles, except for J-10B, are equipped with outdated H001VE and Zhemchug radars, which can not be opposed not only by the powerful Sinxin ATD-X Japanese radar, but also by the A-APG-1 radars of the F-2A / B multifunctional fighter jets . The Japanese representative of the stealth generation ATD-X can gain initial combat readiness by about the 2020 year, and will go to the Japan Air Defense Forces with full minceme: deflected thrust vector, ESR around 0,05 m2, cruising supersonic, long-range radar with a synthetic aperture mode can create a lot of trouble for the above-mentioned Chinese representatives of the 4 + generation. The radically modified version of the F-16C - J-10C will not be able to completely close the technological gap with the Japanese Sinsins; the highly specialized J-20 will not be able to do this, and therefore the only solution to preserve the advantages of China’s continental fighter aircraft is J-31.

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  1. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 15 September 2016 15: 19
    China is betting on the 5th generation. Here is the main
    message promise. 4th road upgrades take a lot of time
    and give a negligible effect.
    1. Engineer
      Engineer 15 September 2016 15: 32
      To want does not mean to be able. They do not even have their own engine for the 4th generation. And with radar and avionics, it’s good only in pictures.
      1. Tibidokh
        Tibidokh 15 September 2016 16: 43
        Quote: Engineer
        They do not even have their own engine for the 4th generation.

        WS-10 is a mixture of AL-31FN and SFM56 technologies. The assigned and overhaul life reached 1000 and 500 hours, respectively (the AL-31FN sold by him had 2000 and 1000 hours). Surge problems have been virtually eliminated. Thrust reached 14 kg.
        The Chinese have only one problem ... the price of WS-10 is one and a half times higher than the price of AL-31FN. And the WS-10G with a draft of 14 kg. (the resource was saved) and the thrust vector exceeds the price of AL-000FN ... in THREE !!! times.
        Therefore, the Chinese are waiting for 117C along with H035.
        At the same time, the Chinese have almost completed the testing of the WS-10 Taihan (without UVT). A decision was made to refuse further procurement of AL-31FN for J-10 and J-11. They will set their own not only for reasons of prestige and support of the Chinese manufacturer, but also in order to develop their own traditions of engine building.
        1. Odysseus
          Odysseus 15 September 2016 16: 59
          Quote: Tibidokh
          A decision was made to refuse further procurement of AL-31FN for J-10 and J-11.

          They will take the replacement for the old boards. They put their own on the new ones. But there is still a problem that the production volume of their engines does not yet satisfy the needs of the Air Force.
          1. Tibidokh
            Tibidokh 15 September 2016 17: 11
            Quote: Odyssey
            Under the replacement for the old boards will be taken.

            It’s strange. I read the exact opposite in Chinese forums. But if you are right - I am only for it.
            Quote: Odyssey
            But there is still a problem that the volume of production of its engines does not yet satisfy the needs of the Air Force.

            Here I do not quite understand. What volume can be discussed if the tests have not yet been completed, although they are in the final stages.
            And the Chinese, in my opinion, with their partially planned economies, enormous human, financial and ideological resources, after the final completion of the tests, they will quickly launch production for themselves and Pakistan.
            1. Odysseus
              Odysseus 15 September 2016 19: 40
              Quote: Tibidokh
              It’s strange. I read the exact opposite in Chinese forums. But if you are right - I am only for it.

              WS-10A and AL-31F / FN are not interchangeable. The fleet of aircraft with Russian engines is large, they fly a lot. Accordingly, a lot of engines are needed for replacement, regardless of the production of WS-10.
              Quote: Tibidokh
              Here I do not quite understand. What volume can be discussed if the tests have not yet been completed, although they are in the final stages.

              The WS-10A is already being manufactured and equipped with the J-11B / C and presumably the J-10B. This does not negate the testing of advanced versions with increased traction and resource.
              But under the 5th generation, they make WS-15. And the first production J-20 will obviously have some kind of advanced modification of the WS-10.
    2. xetai9977
      xetai9977 16 September 2016 09: 45
      China is slowly but surely moving forward in high technology. Copy times have mostly passed
  2. Odysseus
    Odysseus 15 September 2016 16: 57
    About the J-31.
    The PRC aircraft carrier program at the moment includes the construction of 6 aircraft carriers in three pairs. But the J-31 can only go to the second pair (the aircraft carrier currently under construction is similar to Kuse and will carry the J-15).
    Estimated time of commissioning of the second pair of aircraft carriers is 2022-2023. Accordingly, by this time we should expect the appearance of the deck version of the J-31.
    Technically, the main problem with the engines, more precisely with the fact that they are not yet available. The J-20 will go into production with "first stage engines." A full-fledged engine for the 5th generation will be ready no earlier than 2020-2021.
    As far as export prospects are concerned, for now it will be difficult to definitely determine it will be Pakistan and Iran. DPRK is doubtful they do not have that kind of money, and even if they have nuclear weapons they don’t really need J-31. African countries (except South Africa and Algeria) -exactly No, this is too complicated a technique for them. Argentina, maybe, but she has no money.
    1. The comment was deleted.
    2. xetai9977
      xetai9977 16 September 2016 09: 47
      I also do not believe in the acquisition of such DPRK aircraft - in the first place there is no money and is not expected. And secondly, China is also not enthusiastic about the unpredictable Un. Stopudovo will be the first to receive aircraft Pakistan, a longtime ally of China.
  3. RomanS
    RomanS 17 September 2016 12: 12
    To have a desire, an opportunity and a real product are completely different concepts. But to talk about it, please! Long and persistent assurances about the effectiveness (including promising) "stealth" aviation has become a mantra in the world media, like "hari krishna". But the facts show that such aircraft do not have any actual advantages. Therefore, this article is perceived as a brochure for a "promising" aircraft with promising capabilities.