Type: Stealth multirole fighter Designer: AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute (601 Institute) Manufacturer: AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Industry Corporation (SAC) First flight: 31 October 2012 Crew: 1 In-flight refuelling: Yes (retractable probe)
The FC-31 (also known as J-31) is the stealth fighter produced by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) for the PLA’s 5th-generation fighter programme (XXJ). The first prototype of the aircraft made its maiden flight in 2012 but there had been no follow-up prototype produced for the next four years, possibly due to a lack of interest from any domestic or foreign customers.
Nonetheless, the FC-31 development continued with the second moderately modified prototype making flight in December 2016. The second prototype had its outer mould lines modified to further reduce its radar cross-section (RCS), and is fitted with an infrared search and tracking system. There have been speculations that the aircraft may be developed for carrier-based operations as well as a replacement for the Chengdu J-10A within the PLAAF/PLANAF.
The aircraft features a conventional aerodynamic layout, with a pair of large wings, two large canted swept tailfins, and a pair of horizontal stabilisers. Radar cross section (RCS) efforts are reflected in the aircraft’s blended fuselage with internal weapon bays, serrated edges on undercarriage/weapon bay doors, and diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI).
Details of the aircraft’s onboard systems are unknown, but it is expected to be equipped with the active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, ‘glass’ cockpit with coloured multifunctional displays (MFD) and a wide-angle holographic HUD, and an integrated electronic warfare and countermeasures (EW/ECM) suite. The aircraft should be able to carry the new-generation air-to-air missiles such as the PL-10 SRAAM and PL-15 LRAAM.
The aircraft is powered by two Klimov RD-93 turbofan engine, each rated at 79 kN (17,760 lb) dry and 98 kN (22,031 lb) with afterburning. Guizhou Liyang Aeroengine Company is also developed a medium-thrust turbofan engine designated WS-13, with a claimed thrust of 90 kN/20,233 lb with afterburning. This offers a potential alternative powerplant solution for the FC-31.