Beijing – China has tested the latest version of its fifth-generation stealth fighter, state media reported Monday, as it tries to end the West’s monopoly on the world’s most advanced warplanes.
Japan, for its part, is “paying attention” to a Chinese aircraft carrier, which was spotted heading to the Western Pacific on Sunday, the country’s top government spokesman said Monday, calling the movement “a show of expansion of the abilities of China’s naval forces.”
The aircraft carrier Liaoning was part of a fleet that was spotted sailing in the East China Sea by a Japanese defense force destroyer and airplane, about 110 kilometers northeast of the Japanese island of Miyako at around 10 a.m. Sunday, Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.
It marks the first time the Maritime Self-Defense Force confirmed a Chinese aircraft carrier advancing toward the Pacific Ocean, the chief Cabinet secretary said, adding that the Japanese government will continue to monitor carefully the movements of Chinese ships sailing in waters around Japan.
FLEXING MILITARY MUSCLE
The test comes as the nation flexes its military muscles, sending its sole aircraft carrier the Liaoning into the western Pacific in recent days to lead drills there for the first time.
The newest version of the J-31 – now renamed the FC-31 Gyrfalcon – took to the air for the first time Friday, the China Daily reported.
The so-called ‘’fifth-generation’’ twin-engine jet is China’s answer to the US F-35, the world’s most technically advanced fighter.
The new FC-31 has “better stealth capabilities, improved electronic equipment and a larger payload capacity’’ than the previous version which debuted in October, 2012, the newspaper said, quoting aviation expert Wu Peixin.
“Changes were made to the airframe, wings and vertical tails which make it leaner, lighter and more maneuverable,’’ Wu told the paper.
The jet is manufactured by Shenyang Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC).
The fighter is expected to sell for around $70 million, the article said, aiming to take market share away from more expensive fourth-generation fighters like the Eurofighter Typhoon.
AVIC has said that the FC-31 will ‘’put an end to some nations’ monopolies on the fifth-generation fighter jet,’’ the China Daily reported.
China is aggressively moving to develop its domestic weapons industry, from drones and anti-aircraft systems to homegrown jet engines.
In the past it has been accused of copying designs from Russian fighters, and some analysts say the FC-31 bears a close resemblance to the F-35.