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China showcased its first stealth fighter jet here on the opening day of the Dubai Air Show, but so far the fifth-generation aircraft has no customers in sight.
The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is “in negotiations” with the Chinese Air Force to buy the multi-role FC-31, AVIC project manager Lin Peng told reporters on Sunday. Peng declined to say when a deal would be finalized.
Top company officials briefed the media on the stealth characteristics and attack capabilities of the FC-31, but did not take questions from the audience.
This is the first time the Chinese company has showcased the FC-31 [ed], also known as the J-31 internationally, although a prototype aircraft flew during the Zhuhai Air Show in China last year. Chinese fighters are designated with a “J” for fighter and “FC” for export.
No details were given about the FC-31’s sensor suite or weapons, but AVIC says this equipment and communications equipment can be tailored to customer requirements.
The aircraft has six external hardpoints, with an internal weapons bay that can carry a further four munitions. Payload is 8,000kg (17,600lb), of which 2,000kg can be carried internally. Combat radius with internal weapons is 648nm (1,200km), and maximum take-off weight is 55,000kg.
The first flight of a production example is planned for 2019, followed by initial operating capability in 2022 and final operating capability three years' later.