China’s new stealth jet fighter rocketed skywards on Wednesday as Beijing puts on an unprecedented display of openness – and military force – at the country’s premier airshow.
The black J-31 rose in a nearly vertical climb on take-off in Zhuhai before circling back and doing two rolls, in the aircraft’s first announced public appearance.
Defence analysts said China appears eager to sell the new fifth generation fighter abroad, also putting on display a model with a designation typically used for overseas destinations: FC-31.
“China’s defence industry wants to show the potential for export,” said Andrew Erickson, associate professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute of the US Naval War College. Ally Pakistan is a likely first market, he added.
The plane’s existence has been the subject of rumour and speculation for years, with photographs appearing increasingly frequently on military websites in recent months.
Defence analysts say the J-31 is China’s answer to the United States’ F-35.