PLA Air Force FC-31 stealth fighter jet prototype showcased at Shenyang Aircraft Corporation Aviation Expo Park

The prototype of China's FC-31 stealth fighter jet that went on public display at its manufacturer's expo park since late June has completed static testing, a development procedure experts said on Wednesday is crucial to examining the aircraft's structural integrity under extreme conditions. Liu Xuanzun reports in Global Times.

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PLA Air Force FC 31 stealth fighter jet prototype showcased at Shenyang Aircraft Corporation Aviation Expo Park FC-31 stealth fighter jet prototype on display at Shenyang Aircraft Corp's Aviation Expo Park in Shenyang, in June 2021. (Picture source: screenshot from KNEWS via Global Times)

Before becoming an exhibit at the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation's (SAC) Aviation Expo Park, this particular FC-31 aircraft had completed static testing.

The public display of the FC-31 static test demonstrator is an indication that it has accomplished its intended mission. The aircraft is likely unable to fly because of the damage received in the extreme testing. With the static testing done, the FC-31 project can continue further tests and modifications.

Media footage shows that, while the FC-31 on display bears the number "31001" - the serial number of the first FC-31 demonstrator that performed at the Zhuhai Airshow 2014 - it is probably not the same aircraft. The design of the tail is different and represents a redesigned version that was displayed at the Zhuhai Airshow 2018 as a model, observers said.

The FC-31 has undergone many changes in the past years, and an even newer version of the FC-31 based on previous test results and modifications could make its test flight soon.

In early June, foreign media outlets posted a photo showing a full-sized model of the FC-31 on a mock aircraft carrier, allegedly used to evaluate the country's carrier development. Since China's aircraft carriers would eventually need a type of stealth fighter jet, the FC-31 would be a good candidate after receiving the necessary improvements and modifications to suit the needs of vessel-based operations, Wang Ya'nan, editor-in-chief of the Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times last week.