Shenyang / SAC - newly announced 5th generation fighter


Totoro

Captain
VIP Professional
Seems like J-35, built out of the FC-31, is indeed the one selected by PLAN. Very strange they went with a relatively short legged fighter to complement the J-15s which I'm sure will continue serving and receiving upgrades.
We dont know if it is going to be short legged. V2 did seem as if it doesnt have much room for fuel, but a naval v3 may indeed be quite redesigned. A bit beefier fuselage and larger wings may accomodate extra few tons of fuel, approaching f35 fuel numbers (and thus j15 range numbers)
 

latenlazy

Colonel
Seems like J-35, built out of the FC-31, is indeed the one selected by PLAN. Very strange they went with a relatively short legged fighter to complement the J-15s which I'm sure will continue serving and receiving upgrades.
May not be that short legged. More powerful engine means greater potential volume.
 

Scchwerter_

New Member
Registered Member
Looks like the project is still in its infancy, so probably not referring to the J-XY naval jet.

Some folks on Twitter are saying that the report is hinting at collaboration with 611 Chengdu, so perhaps this could be related to China's 6th gen jet.
6th... may be the case, but somehow I think that for a 6th jet development info on research teams won't come out this easily
 

Totoro

Captain
VIP Professional
If PLAN decided not to procure J15 for their 3rd aircraft carrier, then it is to be expected that the prototype of their new carrier borne jet to appear in a year or two. From prototype to serial production would take three to five years, and by which time the 3rd aircraft carrier would already be in PLAN service.

Building a completely new fighter jet would take up to 20 years from concept design to serial production. Modifying J20 or FC31 which are already flying would be money and time wise more sensible. After all, no one want to let the 3rd aircraft carrier waiting for their fighter jets.

Whether the NG fighter jet is based on J20 or FC31 will be known next year. And they seem to have already made the choice sometime back this year but did not disclosed the outcome to the public.
I'd say the chances the fighter is based on existing programs are 99%. Much more so for FC31 based program.

I don't believe that to go from prototype to serial production would take 3 to 5 years. And, besides, serial production is but one milestone required. First airframes of J20 were handed over to PLAAF in early 2017/late 2016. But operational capability with a first front line squadron happened probably only in 2019. Before that the program needed some time to test the planes, develop tactics and use procedures and train enough people to both maintain the initial units and to fly them. So 5/6 years from prototype to first serial airframes handed over to PLAAF, 8 years from prototype to service readiness. Another example may be Superhornet. Based partially on the F18 (even though parts wise it's a new plane) it took 4 years from prototype flight to first production planes handed over to USN and 6 years from prototype to service readiness.

I'd expect the FC-31 based program to be closer to superhornet timetable than to J-20 one, as some work has already been done, in the way of V1 and V2 prototypes.
Still, if the first flight of final V3 prototype configuration happens in early 2020 - i really don't think we'd see first airframes handed over to PLANAF before 2024 and first combat unit ready for first carrier deployment before 2026.

So... the currently in building 003 (002) carrier is, in my opinion, very likely to start its service with some J-15s. Providing it launches in 2020, starts trials in 2022, gets commissioned in 2024. First it may train with a J-15 unit in the 2024-2025 period, perhaps even getting to 24 or so planes by 2026, by which time the first unit of 12 next gen planes may complete the air wing. (ECM planes and other planes not accounted for) The carrier timetable is actually quite pessimistic, and it may very well be we'll see commissioning by 2023 and maiden operational deployment in 2025.
 

Scchwerter_

New Member
Registered Member
Excuse my bad Chinese, but judging from the contents of the article, what progress in the project has been made? Is it mostly theoretical work and specifications-setting that have been completed or are we at the point of expecting a prototype rollout in a year or so?
I mean, if this project is to design a jet from scratch, then most likely we won't see a prototype for a few years, but again *big IF here* IF this is somehow a collaborative effort by both 601 and 611, and they are working on a project that is not completely from scratch, then maybe we will see a prototype sooner. One of the many guesses is that 1. this is indeed the carrier-borne 4th gen fighter; 2. as suggested by some people on Chinese network, the tendering of the carrier-borne 4th gen fighter was completed sometime in 2017 or 2018 (there are several versions of this); and 3. This new fighter is loosly based on either the J-20 or the FC-31 or some other
I saw a news just now concerning SAC seeming to have formed a new development team: "JJ"team, first J is for "军品项目部" , or Military Project Department; second J is for “结构部”, or Structure Department (I believe the "structure" refers to the airframe design of planes).
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Pic 1 is the mark of the team, and according to the original article published by the official wechat account of SAC, the shape symbolizes the cross-section of an aircraft (looks kinda like an airliner with its round fusalage and winglet, but I dont believe that's what the final product will be... explination further down) According to the article, this plans for the project started in June 2018 and the project itself was initiated in September 2018.

Pic 2 is a shot taken at a award-giving ceremony on 10th December 2019 feturing some of the development teams. The plack held by the group to the left has "Development Team on Composite Material Overall Structure (or Molothic Structure, depends on how one interprets the word)"; Middle group is "Proof-of-Concept Team on Advanced Materials"; and to the right is "Development Team on Monolithic (One-Piece) Structure Metal Air Intake"

Pic 3 is taken probably at a group meeting, and the red bannar hung on the wall is "...进战机S弯进气道攻关团队", or roughly "...dvanced combat aircraft (note that the bannar says '战机' and not ‘战斗机’; the latter specifically refers to fighter jets, but the first one I believe *may* refer to other types of combat aircraft) S-shaped air intake tackling team"

So based on what we know, SAC is working on a new project of some kind with large-scale use of composite material and a S-shaped air intake. 99% probability its some kind of stealth aircraft, but unforturnately at the moment we just don't know what it is. My personal speculation is that this project is somehow linked with the new factory building that was under construction in SAC since last year ( I'll post some satellite pics below with its construction progress at various times) and is either finished or almost finished as of now.

Things that I don't quite get: In pic 2 they specifically said "metal air-intake" which is kind of wired IMO because I remembered that most of the stealth aircrafts (F-35 for example) had composite air-intakes?

NEW SAC FACILITY:
Pic 4: satellite pic on 20th January 2018 (which happens to be my birthday lol), I believe the two red-circled buildings are the assembly plants, because they are the only one building that are linked to the runway with roads that are wide enough for a flanker (blue circled road, the size issue is better shown in later pics where there are flankers for comparison) Construction of new facility (which will appear to the right of the two existing plants) have not started. (I initially thought the facility to the left of the existing assembly plant is also for assembly, but then realized that the green-circled part is actually a field of grass)

Pic 5: satellite pic on 4th October 2018 (around 3 months after plans for the project is made and 1 month after the project officially began), the new facility is under destruction (red circle). Note that there are several planes on the runway next to the existing facility, which includes one flanker, and the relative size of the planes to the roads that lead to the existing facilities.

Pic 6: Satellite pic on 22th August 2019, which is the newest pic available to me right now. The new facility is almost finished (still a patch of earth between the old and new facilities, I believe this would be paved shortly afterward the pic was taken) Note that the new facility is more than 2 times as big as the existing one. (Possibly a Pulse Line? I believe there were news a few years back concerning new pulse line under construction in Chengdu for the J-20 too)

IMO whatever SAC got their hands on with this project, its BIG, like REALLY BIG, certainly bigger than a production plant that can produce around 50 flankers a year can handle without seriously expanding their assembly line.

(BTW sorry for posting pics in thumbnails, the first 3 pics aren't very cooperative but I think they will open if u click on the image)
Adding some info here: I read thru the article again and here's what I initially missed: 1.jpg
The line in the red circle says "New Fighter Jet Joint Tackling Team" so unless the guys who wrote this article are messing about, this team is definately working on some kind of fighter... I still cant believe I didn't notice this right away =(
 

ougoah

Senior Member
Registered Member
My money says J-35 with CAC input. After all CAC has more experience fielding a real stealth fighter as opposed to hollowed out LO shaped demonstrator.
 

Deino

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
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And again ... the question is: Will it be a refined FC-31 spiced up with systems from the J-20 or is it a joint clean sheet design?
 

Scchwerter_

New Member
Registered Member
And again ... the question is: Will it be a refined FC-31 spiced up with systems from the J-20 or is it a joint clean sheet design?
we just don't know at the moment sadly, but if the time between starting the project and “试验件发图” (dunno how to translate, IMO it roughly means "revealing pics of prototype parts (to inside personal?)" is something like 15 months, then this project is going pretty fast and I wont be surprised if data and designs from the FC-31 are used to aid in the process
 

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