Thursday, November 13, 2014

The PRC's New J-31: A Stealth Contender or Just Another Chinese Knockoff?

Coinciding with President Obama's visit to the PRC for the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit and to urge officials in Beijing to halt cyber attacks and outright cyber theft, the PLA's Air Force deliberately conducted test flights of its new J-31 Stealth Fighter at an arms show in Zuhai. Its alleged that the design of this 5th Generation fighter is the result of Chinese hackers breaking into Lockheed Martin and stealing the plans for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to which the PLA appears to have produced their own knockoff copy that is missing some key elements or as Lockheed Martin calls "The Crown Jewels" of it's performance ratio & thrust vectoring capability.
While on the surface, the plane looks strangely like an American Stealth fighter (Gee, wonder how that happened?), it is their second Stealth fighter. The earlier J-20 also the product of Chinese hacking also bears a remarkable resemblance to the F-22 & canceled YF-23. Worse, like it's older brother the J-20, the J-31 is powered by a pair of Russian made Klimov RD-93 engines, the same power plant for the MIG-29. The rumor has it that a group of rogue Russian technicians helped them reconfigure these engines for the new plane but Chinese officials deny this. Surprised? Its been observed that this plane bleeds too much power and has to engage its afterburners at low altitude in order to avoid stalling. Nice Try but no fortune cookie!

The mentality behind this lack of originality on the part of the Chinese is difficult to ascertain. You would figure that the people who brought you 4000 years of complex mathematics and medicine could come up with something on their own without stealing someone else s ideas. You would think they would take more pride in their own ingenuity and not ride on the accomplishments of others. But No. If Japan can come up with their own Stealth Fighter (See Mitsubishi ATX-D F3 Shinshin), China has no excuse. This is not being competitive, this is being lazy! ばか!

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