The J-20, the only operational Chinese fighter aircraft of the fifth generation, is almost ready to reach its full combat potential thanks to the gradual maturation of the “WS-15,” a new type of high-thrust turbofan engine built domestically. For China, there is even more exciting news concerning its second domestically made fighter aircraft of the fifth generation, the J-35, a medium-sized stealth fighter derived from the FC-31. A performance briefing and a promotional movie were both recently carried out by AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Corporation.
Shenyang Aircraft Corporation is currently in the process of creating a new factory area for research and production, as can be seen in the video. The massive construction of new factory buildings will likely be for the establishment of a new generation fighter aircraft production line at Shenyang Aircraft Corporation in the coming years, given that one of the most important tasks that Shenyang Aircraft Corporation will be tasked with performing in the coming years will be to provide fighter aircraft for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the Naval Aviation Force. Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, which designed and manufactured the J-35 stealth fighter, is expected to start serial production soon.
The J-7 and J-8 fighter planes have reached the end of their operational careers, and manufacturing has ceased. The J-16 multirole, a fourth-and-a-half generation fighter aircraft (a derivative of J-11, a copy of the Soviet Su-27), is gradually replacing previous variants such as the J-11A, Su-30 and J-11B. The long-rumoured J-11D fighter aircraft project will almost certainly be scrapped, meaning that the J-11 series fighter aircraft production line also looks at sunset. Shenyang Aircraft Corporation appears to be producing the J-15 carrier-based aircraft and the J-16.
Since it is believed that the production lines for the J-15 and J-16 are modified versions of those for the J-11, the new factory facilities and production lines constructed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation are most likely intended to be used in the development of an entirely new aircraft model called the J-35.
The 80,000-ton “Fujian Ship,” China’s first electromagnetic catapult-equipped supercarrier, can carry at least 48 multirole carrier-based fighter aircraft. If the “Fujian Ship” follows the existing United States Naval Aviation carrier air wing makeup, consisting of stealth and non-stealth fighter aircraft, the “Fujian Ship” air fleet may consist of 24 J-35s and 24 J-15s. There may be a need for between 30 and 50 J-35s in the first round of production, and it doesn’t even account for the planes that would be needed for training at onshore bases or the planes that will be needed as reserves.
Also, the “Fujian Ship’s” likely identical twin may be in or about to be constructed. As a result, it is estimated that between sixty and one hundred additional carrier-based aircraft will be required for the two catapult-equipped carriers. This is an estimation for only the known scenario; in the future, more may be required. The planned manufacturing volume of the J-35 may exceed that of the J-20 because of the possibility of future exports of the J-35 and the prospect of orders from the People’s Air Force.
Both the F-35 and the Su-57 are very pricey planes right now. Most nations cannot afford to buy or develop their fifth-generation aircraft; thus, they will look elsewhere to get such planes. Between 300 and 500 aircraft are projected to be in demand for stealth fighters in the future global armaments market. The J-35 has good overall performance and export potential, and it is the most technologically advanced and quickly evolving product produced in China. Because of last year’s announcement that Shenyang Aircraft Corporation would “actively develop defence trade,” it’s likely that the J-35 will be the showpiece of this effort.
The J-35, which is more technologically advanced than the J-20 and endorsed by the Chinese Navy, will enjoy larger export market benefits than the current domestic efforts to promote the sale of non-stealth fighters like the J-10 and “FC-1 Xiaolong.” In terms of cost, it may be the only product in the world that can compete with the Russian Sukhoi Su-75, a fighter aircraft of the fifth generation. The Su-75 is a single-engine aircraft, while the J-35 has two. South Korea, Taiwan, India, and Turkey each have their fifth generation fighter aircraft programme in either the concept development stage or the testing phase. The wisest course of action for Shenyang Aircraft Corporation is to rapidly increase production capacity for the J-35 rapidly.
The fact that China has been in the habit of announcing the success of their engine programmes every year for the previous two decades, although they have not yet achieved it, makes the J-35 fighter’s engines the only thing that might potentially derail future sales chances of this aircraft. In this case, Russia will decide the fate of J-35 exports.