WITH VIDEO: Shenyang J-31 debuts at Zhuhai airshow

The Shenyang J-31, also known as F-60.
The Shenyang J-31, also known as F-60.

In the year the Lockheed Martin F-35 should have made its big international airshow debut, it’s the Shenyang J-31 that steals the show these days at the Zhuhai Airshow China 2014. The somewhat new, mysterious and apparently stealthy Chinese fighter aircraft practiced a display routine over Zhuhai on Thursday 6 November. The airshow runs from 11 November till 16 November.

The black J-31 presumably arrived in Zhuhai last week and had not flown since. The J-31 – also known as F-60 – first came to light in September 2012, when pictures emerged of a new Chinese fighter aircraft closely resembling a Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor. Only one month later, the J-31 got airborne for its first flight, lasting ten minutes. Further testing has been ongoing since.

At Zhuhai, the display routine does not appear to involve a lot more than some fly bys and shallow turns. Of notice are the smoky engines, with the smoke trail resembling that of a MiG-29 Fulcrum. The smoke justifies the question how stealthy the J-31 really is, as any pilot can see it come from miles away by the smoke. On landing, two drag chute were deployed, to the surprise of many. Pictures are to be found here.

As the J-31 lands, a KJ-2000 AWACS aircraft is visible, its design based on the IL-76. Next to it is what appears to be KJ-200 AWACS, which actually is a Chinese made Y-8, which in turn is based on the Russian An-12.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest