Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) controlled Shenyang Aircraft Co. Ltd. has announced the develop an aircraft carrier capable stealth fighter jet, reports Global Times. In a statement last week on its WeChat public account, the company stated that it plans to make technological breakthroughs that ensures the successful development of a new, fourth-generation stealth fighter jet, and conduct test production and research on its next-generation aircraft in 2021. The Chinese use the term fourth generation fighter for stealth aircraft which is called fifth generation fighter in the western world.
As per the statement, the company plans to use a host of production technologies, including additive manufacturing also known as 3D printing, control over surface electromagnetic defects meant for repairing stealth material and automated fiber placement used for composite structures. The company is also researching on technologies like thermal adaptation and integration of structure and function.
Shenyang Aircraft has not revealed the name of the aircraft, but it attached the image of the FC-31 Gyrfalcon stealth fighter jet. This also means that the FC-31 is not the final product, but a developmental prototype based on which the new aircraft will be derived. AVIC lists FC-31 for exports.
In July 2020, AVIC’s research and design bureau, the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment, announced the testing of a new type of aircraft for navy along with Shenyang. After a couple of months pictures emerged on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo which displayed a newly painted FC-31 with AVIC logo on the tail. The pictures indicated that the aircraft maneuvered and the air speed measuring device was missing.
China is building a Type 003 aircraft carrier for the PLA Navy, which is its third carrier, but the first one to use a level flight deck and aircraft catapults.
In addition to the aircraft carrier based aircraft, the statement also mentions ‘next-generation aircraft’ which means that Shenyang is working on a sixth generation aircraft. This is an additional effort by the Chinese to build a sixth generation aircraft. AVIC controlled Chengdu Aircraft Research and Design Institute had earlier announced a sixth generation aircraft project. As per a Global Times article of 2019, “China’s sixth-generation fighter will come into being by 2035 or earlier,” said Wang Haifeng, a chief architect at Chengdu Aircraft Research and Design Institute who also participated in the development of the J-20 and J-10. Global Times was quoting him from the Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Xi’an-based periodical on national defense industries, published in January.
The periodicle listed features of the sixth-generation fighter jet which included the ability to command drones, artificial intelligence and even higher stealth capability through aerodynamic design, laser, adaptive engines, hypersonic weapons and swarm warfare.