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New details emerge on Shenyang FC-31 fifth-generation export fighter

09 November 2016

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.

A large model of the new version of SAC's FC-31 fifth-generation export fighter was shown for the second time at Airshow China this month. (Via FYJS web page)A large model of the new version of SAC's FC-31 fifth-generation export fighter was shown for the second time at Airshow China this month. (Via FYJS web page)

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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