China showcased its newest stealth fighter to a crowd of overseas military officers on Tuesday, with hopes that the craft — the J-31, which is still being fine-tuned and developed — might prove the nation can aggressively compete in the international arms trade.
“It is our dream to break the monopoly that foreign countries have on new-generation jet fighters,” said Li Yuhai, the deputy general manager at Aviation Industry Corporation of China, AVIC, to a crowd of reporters gathered at the biennial Zhuhai air show, the Financial Times reported. “The J-31 will also be a flagship product for us in the international arms market.”
The crowd of watchers — and hoped-for buyers — included representatives from Middle Eastern, African and Latin American air forces, the Financial Times reported. Several also were on hand from the U.S. Air Force and U.S. allied nations.
Military analysts say the J-31 is being pushed to markets that aren’t able to purchase America’s F-35.
“Before, we could only see the backs of our foreign competitors,” said AVIC’s Mr. Li, the news outlet reported. “But now we can compete on the same field.”
And Ni Leixiong, another Chinese military expert, said the J-31 will go head-to-head with the crafts flown by Japan and the United States.
“It will strengthen our ability to compete for air supremacy with Japan and the U.S.,” he said, the Financial Times reported. “Sometimes, militaries need to reveal their fists.”
So far, reaction has been tepid.
“It looked good,” said one German military official who watched the J-31 fly, the news outlet said. “But the performance wasn’t very impressive. There weren’t a lot of high-G maneuvers. But then, I don’t think that was the point.”
The J-31 is powered by Russian engines, though AVIC’s goal is to replace those with Chinese-made ones eventually.