Construction has apparently begun of a prototype of the second version of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) FC-31 'Gyrfalcon' twin-engine, fifth-generation export fighter, according to a video shown at Airshow China, held in Zhuhai from 1-6 November.
The video provides views of the fuselage under construction and shows that the new version will have a distributed aperture system (DAS) optical early-warning system.
The video also gives the first indication of the FC-31's internal and wing-mounted weapon options: six internal plus six wing-mounted medium-range air-to-air missiles; four internal plus four wing-mounted supersonic air-to-surface missiles; four internal plus four wing-mounted 500 kg deep-penetration bombs; or 12 internal and 18 wing-mounted smaller bombs (or presumably combinations of those options).
Derived from the J-31 fighter prototype that first flew on 31 October 2012, the second version has been shown in model form at the 2014 and 2016 Zhuhai shows. It features a much- modified fuselage with an electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) and swept-back vertical stabilizer.
The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) also provided new FC-31 specifications at Zhuhai, updating figures leaked around the September 2015 Beijing Airshow. The FC-31's length has increased to 17.3 m from 16.8 m, while its maximum take-off weight has increased to 28 tonnes from 25 tonnes.
AVIC also displayed an 'Advanced Avionics Concept Cockpit for Military Aircraft' at Zhuhai using a forward fuselage similar to that of the FC-31. It features side-stick controls, a single reconfigurable large multifunction display (MFD), a wide head-up display (HUD) and a new helmet-mounted display similar to the Striker system produced by BAE Systems for use in the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The FC-31 may also use the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology (NRIET) KLJ-7A active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, also displayed for the first time at Airshow China, which is claimed to have a performance similar the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 AESA radar of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
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