Shenyang FC-31 / J-31 Fighter Demonstrator


siegecrossbow

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View attachment 70714
Interview with 赵霞 of SAC. She was the deputy chief designer of J-15. She is talking about her experience working as chief designer of a new fighter. She specifically says this aircraft will have four variants.

Assuming this is FC-31, the common guesses for the four variants are:
  • PLAAF
  • PLAN carrier based
  • PLAN land based
  • export

Why the heck are they bothering with a PLAN land based variant? Just make that, the PLAAF variant, and the export variant the same.
 

11226p

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Very interesting. Four variants should make for a decently sized production run at the very least.
 

Deino

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View attachment 70714
Interview with 赵霞 of SAC. She was the deputy chief designer of J-15. She is talking about her experience working as chief designer of a new fighter. She specifically says this aircraft will have four variants.

Assuming this is FC-31, the common guesses for the four variants are:
  • PLAAF
  • PLAN carrier based
  • PLAN land based
  • export


Did she give any hints towards WHEN any of these variants will be unveiled?

By the way, maybe is it just me, but I have the feeling recently they are talking about that new type (or at least hinting) more often. So does the smoke gets thicker towards some sort of unveiling?
 
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Temstar

Senior Member
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Did she give any hints towards WHEN any of these variants will be unveiled?
No. However recently I saw someone else who follows aircraft development on Weibo also saying FC-31 will have a “一鸡多吃” (multiple ways to eat one chicken) situation. In fact that guy specifically said there will be four variants and that we will see at least one variant fly at about end of 2021.

At the time I thought "pft, he's probably been saying that every year for the last 10 years" but now that 赵霞 have said the same about variants perhaps the "maiden fly at end of 2021" part also have some credibility behind it.

I've seen the phrase “一鸡多吃” mentioned multiple times before with regards to FC-31, before this interview surfaced.
 

plawolf

Brigadier
SAC is just determined to keep being SAC. They should just focus on getting one viable variant off the ground before wasting time dreaming about spin offs.

Feels almost like they are going out of their way to repeat LockMart’s mistakes with the F35 by over complicating and over burdening the baseline design with overly ambitious multiple variants pipe dreams that end up only extending development time and increasing costs while reducing capabilities.
 

silentlurker

Junior Member
Registered Member
SAC is just determined to keep being SAC. They should just focus on getting one viable variant off the ground before wasting time dreaming about spin offs.

Feels almost like they are going out of their way to repeat LockMart’s mistakes with the F35 by over complicating and over burdening the baseline design with overly ambitious multiple variants pipe dreams that end up only extending development time and increasing costs while reducing capabilities.
Really depends on what the modifications are doesn't it? Highly doubt FC-31 is going a modification as major as a STOVL variant.
 

Inst

Senior Member
PLAAF FC-31 isn't worthwhile, for the simple reason that the FC-31 does not fit a role. People speculate about the FC-31 forming a low end of a PLAAF hi-low mix, but the FC-31 is not a true "low" fighter a la the J-10, it's a twin-engined aircraft using mediumweight engines as opposed to the heavyweight engines of the J-20. As such, it's likely not to see significant cost savings compared to the J-20, while sacrificing capability such as sensor and physical ranges. The only advantage might be enhanced radar stealth, but the J-20 is already likely to reach -40 dBsm (J-20 in least favorable RCS studies is -20 dBsm minimum, so's the F-22) with existing metamaterials in targeting radar ranges.

It is more suited for carrier aviation if it does see service, since SAC has experience with carrier aviation than Chengdu lacks.

===

As for variants, the Chinese and Soviet attitude toward variants is different than the American attitude toward variants. What went really wrong with the F-35 is that they tried to get all three variants operational at the same time, when what they should have done should have been to get one variant operational, then build the others as modifications. The variant philosophy of the Chinese, Soviets, and even the Americans (see F-15E Strike Eagle, EF-18 Growler) has been successful. The F-35 is not due to a single, obvious mistake.

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As for JH-XX, the advantages of the JH-XX has to do with its airframe size and class. It's purportedly 30 meters long, which puts it as significantly larger than the J-20, meaning that it can carry more capable avionics, such as longer-ranged EODAS or AESA, perhaps even counterstealth radars. Unlike the H-20 platform, it's supersonic capable, so it can keep up with J-20s supercruising.

If the PLAAF DOES go with significant numbers of FC-31s, what you'd see would be FC-31s escorting KJ-300s or 600s in a counterstealth role, given that neither wish to be fast, while JH-XXs would escort J-20s to provide counterstealth detection.

===

A final retort you could make is that the Soviets ran a combination of Su-27s and MiG-29s, with the latter being a fighter using two medium-weight engines. However, the MiG-29s were designed for very short range and originally complemented the MiG-25s and MiG-31s, who were very long-ranged and BVR strong. Likewise, the MiG-29 never saw the same development the Su-27 did, where the Su-27 was developed into a family of fighters, and Russian aviation inventories are more tilted toward the Su-27 derivatives; only 255 MiG-29 and derivatives are in Russian service, while they maintain 229 Su-27s, 111 Su-30s, 124 Su-34s, and 98 Su-35s, for a total of 562 Flankers and derivatives vs 255.

You could see the J-31 as a skeet fighter vs the F-35, boasting a possibly more capable radar (AFAIK the J-31 does not have a larger radar aperture than the F-35) to present advantages, but its inability to go beyond the immediate Chinese vicinity (Taiwan, South Korea) means that J-20s are still a better option for what China is trying to do.
 
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