The Shenyang J-31 (F-60) is a fifth-generation, multi-role, twin-engine stealth fighter aircraft being manufactured for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, an affiliate of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). It is the second stealth fighter that China has indigenously developed after the J-20.
The J-31 fighter jet is intended to provide advanced defence capabilities in close-air support, aerial bombing and air interdiction operations. It can also perform suppression of enemy air defences and can be used as a carrier-based fighter on aircraft carriers. Initial operational capability of the aircraft is expected in 2020.
The J-31 prototype (31001) performed its maiden flight on 31 October 2012. A model of the aircraft was exhibited at the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China) held in Zhuhai in November 2012. The J-31 prototype made a test flight during the Zhuhai Air Show in November 2014.
Known as the FC-31 fourth-generation multi-purpose medium fighter, the export variant of the J-31 fighter was also displayed at the Zhuhai Air Show 2014. The FC-31’s airframe and control surfaces are similar to those of J-31 but will be outfitted with angled vertical stabilisers, two large internal payload bays and an estimated payload capacity of 2,268kg. It can also be attached with electro-optical and sensor system (EOSS) pod and infrared search-and-track sensors below the nose.
Electro-optical and sensor system (EOSS) pod and infrared search-and-track sensors below the nose shown on mockupA-Star’s EOTS-86 appears to be similar to the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) that equips the Lockheed Martin F-35. Source: Via Top81 web page
A-Star’s booth featured images of a Shenyang Aircraft Corporation J-31 fifth-generation export fighter to highlight two electro-optical systems, although it is not clear that A-Star’s systems will equip future developments of this fighter, revealed as the FC-31 at the November 2014 Zhuhai Air Show.
The EOTS-89 resembles the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) of the Lockheed Martin F-35, which combines Forward Looking Infrared and Infrared Search and Track (IRST) capabilities. The similarity includes the use of two tracking mirrors and a flat-facetted optical window, with bottom fuselage placement just aft the radar radome. Such a system was so placed on the large mock-up of the FC-31 seen in November 2014.
A-Star’s EORD-31 appears to be a conventional infrared search and tracking (IRST) system but with a faceted sensor dome; and the claimed ability to detect a F-22. (Via Top81 web page)
Shown placed on the front starboard side of the J-31 canopy, A-Star’s EORD-31 serves as an IRST, similar to the OLS-27 series used by the Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter. However, instead of a spherical dome cover, the EORD-31 is flat and facetted. Chinese press reports claimed the system may be able to detect a Lockheed Martin F-22A at 110 km and a Boeing B-2 at 150 km.
A-Star’s EORD-31 IRST uses a unique faceted sensor dome. (Via Top81 web page)
J-31 aircraft design and features
The medium-sized Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter aircraft features diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) design with bumps and forward-swept inlet cowls. The airframe incorporates a pair of low-aspect ratio trapezoidal planform wings with titanium spars. Each wing has a sweep of 35° and the stealthy design offers reduced radar cross-section (RCS).
Diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) design
The chined fuselage of the J-31 incorporates a pair of tail planes. The rear edge of the fuselage is hinged with two vertical stabilisers. A rudder is installed on each stabiliser to control the aircraft’s movement. The aircraft is fitted with a tricycle landing gear. The nose landing gear consists of double wheels, while the main landing gear has a ‘dogleg’ structure.
The fighter jet has a length of 16.9m, height of about 4.8m, and a wing span of 11.5m. The empty weight is about 17t and the maximum take-off weight is 25t. The aircraft can carry out missions at medium and low-altitudes.
Cockpit and avionics
The aircraft is operated by a single pilot. The cockpit is enclosed by a transparent, two-piece canopy to provide increased visibility for the pilot.
Likely to be the cockpit of the J-31 as it was shown in public The aircraft can be equipped with state-of-the-art avionics, including multifunctional displays, helmet-mounted sight, an electro-optical targeting system (EOTS), an attitude director indicator (ADI), and advanced sensors and communication systems.
Armament of Shenyang J-31
The Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter can be fitted with one internal cannon, two internal weapons bays in the fuselage and three payload hard-points on each of the two wings. Each internal weapons bay can accommodate up to two missiles.
Internal weapons bay can accommodate up to two missiles each bayThree payload hard-points on each of the two wings
J-31 fighter engines and performance
The aircraft is powered by two RD-93 afterburning turbofan engines developed by Russian company JSC Klimov. Each engine generates an afterburning thrust of 84kN. The propulsion system also features fixed stealthy nozzles.
RD-93 afterburning turbofan engines developed by Russian company JSC Klimov – an improved version of the RD33
The aircraft can fly at a speed of approximately 2,200km/h and will offer a maximum range of over 2,000km when fitted with external fuel tanks. The service ceiling of the aircraft is approximately 20,000m.
Naval variant J-31JF-17 Thunder with Shenyang J-31