It has long been believed that China was no longer developing its new J-31 fifth-generation stealth fighter purely for international sales but as a domestic platform as well. By extension, it has also been believed that China has been fast progressing with a carrier-launched FC-31 twin-engine stealth fighter jet intended to rival America’s F-35 jets.
Purported to be a stealthy fifth-generation platform capable of matching the amphibious-launched U.S. Marine Corps F-35B or carrier-launched F-35C, the emerging FC-31 jet would introduce an as of yet unprecedented maritime attack capability to the large and fast-growing Chinese Navy.
Certainly, any kind of “F-35-like” maritime power projection presents a substantial threat to the U.S. Navy, it does not seem at all clear that the new jet is in any way comparable to an F-35 jet in terms of performance. The external configuration of the FC-31 jet appears like a transparent rip-off of the designs for American F-35 and F-22 jets. After all, China is known to engage in consistent efforts to steal or copy U.S. weapons platform specs. However, a general external similarity does not in any way guarantee that the aircraft is comparable to an F-35 jet in any capacity.
As a platform intended to launch from Chinese carriers, the FC-31 jet does not appear to operate with any kind of F-35B-like vertical take-off-and-landing, and its ability to parallel, replicate or in any way “match” the computing, sensing and weapons capabilities of an F-35 jet