FC-31 stealth fighter gets PL-15 missile, 'among the best in the world'
By GT staff reporters in Zhuhai Published: Sep 28, 2021 04:43 PM
China's second stealth fighter jet, the FC-31, made its reappearance at the Airshow China 2021 in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province, which kicked off on Tuesday, and this time, it is displayed together with the powerful PL-15E beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, as the missile, also used by China's J-20 stealth fighter jet, is announced to be available for export for the first time.
Both the FC-31 stealth fighter jet and the armament are of top-level, and their partnership will make them even stronger and among the best in the world, experts said on Tuesday.
A scale model of the FC-31 is displayed at an entrance of the exhibition hall of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), together with models of a PL-15E very-long-range air-to-air missile, a PL-10E short-range air-to-air missile and an LS-6/250 precision glide bomb.
The PL-15E is an air-to-air missile with a maximum range of 145 kilometers guided with a combination of inertial, satellite navigation, datalink and active radar, the Global Times learned from description boards at the exhibition.
The LS-6/250 is a guided precision glide bomb with a maximum range of more than 100 kilometers and weights 294 kilograms.
The PL-10E is an advanced, very agile and aggressive short-range air-to-air missile that was announced to be available for export during the Airshow China in 2018.
Domestic versions of the PL-15 and PL-10 missiles are used by advanced warplanes of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force like the J-20 and J-16 fighter jets, observers pointed out.
Developed as a fifth-generation fighter jet aimed at fulfilling the demands of future warfare and having delivered a flight performance at the 2014 edition of the Airshow China, the made-for-export FC-31 again made its appearance this year, AVIC said in a statement sent to the Global Times.
The FC-31, comparable with the US' F-35, is one of the world's most advanced stealth fighter jets, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times at the air show on Tuesday.
The PL-15E, PL-10E and LS-6/250 can cover long-range and short-range air combat as well as surface attack, making the FC-31 capable of fighting in all ranges and against all targets, the expert said, noting that the PL-15E is particularly powerful due to its beyond-visual-range capability much superior to other countries' missiles.
Combining the FC-31 and the weapons together means a world-class warplane even better than the F-35, the expert said.
Speculations have been circulating for a long time whether the made-for-export FC-31 will eventually join domestic service with the PLA and become its next-generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet.
While refusing to make a direct comment on the speculations, Zhou Guoqiang, general manager assistant at AVIC, told a group of reporters including from the Global Times in a preview visit to the exhibition hall shortly prior to the opening on Tuesday that the FC-31 reflects China's strength, and is a key achievement in the "20" aircraft family.
Not far away from the FC-31 model, a giant rotary table in the center of the AVIC exhibition hall displayed the other members of the "20" aircraft family, namely the J-20 stealth fighter jet, the Y-20 large transport aircraft, the Z-20 utility helicopter and the GJ-11 stealth armed reconnaissance drone.
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