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China’s J-35 Carrier-Borne Stealth Fighter ‘Soars High’ In New Video; Aims To Challenge US F35

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China’s J-35 Carrier-Borne Stealth Fighter ‘Soars High’ In New Video; Aims To Challenge US F35​

By Parth Satam
-
August 28, 2023


The first video of China’s J-35 carrier-based stealth fighter undergoing flight tests has emerged on social media, indicating the aircraft’s rapid development and the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) steady progress toward acquiring complete operational carrier capability.

The video, posted by several handles on X (formerly Twitter), showed the twin-engine J-35 in a possibly grey paint scheme, with landing gears down in what looks like the plane coming in for a landing.

China has two operational aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong. A third one, the Fujian, has been launched and is being readied for harbor and sea trials. Developed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC), the J-35, Beijing’s second stealth fighter after Chengdu’s J-20, is slated to operate from all three carriers.

China’s second carrier-based fighter, the J-15 (a Chinese derivative of the Sukhoi Su-33), is the larger, heavier jet primarily assessed as PLAN’s primary air superiority/multirole mainstay.

The J-35, given its relatively lighter and smaller profile, might undertake the basic aerial protection roles for the fleet and integral support for the J-15s from enemy fighters, while the latter conducts the complex anti-ship and ground strike missions.

J-35 Needed To Challenge US F-35

The PLAN and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) had previously rejected the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC)-built J-35 (then called the FC-31 Gyrfalcon). The project, however, was believed to be resurrected as tensions with the US in the western Pacific increased under former US President Donald Trump.

Even during the pandemic, it is said that China made significant progress on this program. “(The J-35 program) is the poster child for military opportunism the PRC has displayed during the COVID epidemic,” a NATO intel officer previously told the Bulwark.


“Increased building up of their man-made islands in the South China Sea, escalation of bomber and fighter flights almost daily harassing the Republic of China (on Taiwan), wolf-warrior diplomacy, etc. It is all part of their game of ‘how much can we get away with while you are locked at home and not paying attention,'” NATO intel officer added.

Design & Features

July 2022 saw the J-35’s first clear image on the ground with the maintenance crew surfacing. This had the serial number 35003 and a gray tactical paint job. It is unclear if the jet in the video is the same as in the July 2022 photo.

However, that picture showed a pitot tube in the nose, while the jet in the latest video did not have one. This indicates the concluding phases of flight testing and installing a radar system in the nose. The J-35 will have an advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, being a fifth-generation fighter.

There is a similarity in the J-35’s canopy configuration and that of the F-35B variant that features the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) capability for use on the universal amphibious ships of the US Marine Corps and the US Navy.

In the J-35 and F-35B, the upper part of the fuselage is merged with the rear part of the canopy (behind the cockpit). In the case of the F-35B, this part houses a lifting fan to enable vertical take-off and landing.

The J-35, however, is not a STOVL aircraft. This also leads to the question of which of the three carriers the J-35 will likely operate from. With the Fujian featuring an Electromagnetic Launch System (EMALS) that allows launching even heavier aircraft with full loads, limiting the J-15s to the Liaoning and the Shandong would be pointless.

Thus, logically, it can be guessed that once ready after sea trials and while being operationalized, Fujian might carry largely the J-15 and a small complement of J-35s, with the ratio being inverted on the Liaoning and the Shandong.

Indeed, this does not mean the J-35 cannot carry heavier payloads on the outboard stations under the wing or the belly. Still, such a stealth-compromising configuration would only be flown in missions not requiring radar invisibility.

However, the fighter-type allotment for each carrier is, at best, an informed guess. We would have to wait a few years for further developments or reports from official state-affiliated media.

US Watching Closely

The J-35’s appearance in July 2021 had “caught the attention of US defense policymakers,” according to a Breaking Defense report.

A retired US naval intelligence officer, Captain James Fanell, told Breaking Defense that the J-35 could be another critical turning point in China’s long-term quest for a blue-water carrier-based naval aviation capability.
“We are seeing the goals of (now retired) Admiral Wu Shengli coming to fruition as the PLAN continues its transformation into the most powerful navy on the planet,” he said.

Fanell further argues that the lack of transparency on the part of the Chinese government is why we keep being “surprised” by developments like the J-35.

 
This is most likely never gonna happen.

J-31 (or J-35 now they called) is about 10-15 years behind the US F-35 Schedule. And the carrier Fujian is at best 2 years before being operational and deployable, and that is just a single carrier, you need to wait for another 3 or 4 for each subsequent carrier to be made.

So by the time Chinese Navy start fielding this aircraft in any meaningful number, it would most likely be post 2035 (depends on how many Carriers China is going after) and by then there will be tons of F-35 and some may even end up on Second Hand market and US would be moved onto 6th Gen Aircraft.
 
This is most likely never gonna happen.

J-31 (or J-35 now they called) is about 10-15 years behind the US F-35 Schedule. And the carrier Fujian is at best 2 years before being operational and deployable, and that is just a single carrier, you need to wait for another 3 or 4 for each subsequent carrier to be made.

So by the time Chinese Navy start fielding this aircraft in any meaningful number, it would most likely be post 2035 (depends on how many Carriers China is going after) and by then there will be tons of F-35 and some may even end up on Second Hand market and US would be moved onto 6th Gen Aircraft.

I did expect it to be ready for production by 2023 time so its definitely late, maybe will take a few more years. At the moment full concentration is on J20s which number around 200, they will be enough to challenge regional supremacy, if China wants to build bases around the world then it will be a big challenge to get j35s in large numbers as you mentioned.
 
I did expect it to be ready for production by 2023 time so its definitely late, maybe will take a few more years. At the moment full concentration is on J20s which number around 200, they will be enough to challenge regional supremacy, if China wants to build bases around the world then it will be a big challenge to get j35s in large numbers as you mentioned.
J-20 is most likely going to be use as a leverage on homeland defense for China, I mean I don't see China would want to deploy or even have the option to deploy J-20 in any oversea base or have any customer either they are willing to sell to.

Which mean the power projection part is going to be a very big burden on the PLAN shoulder, and as I pointed out. China don't even currently have a functioning aircraft carrier that can operate J-35, it's going to take times to train up and certified the crew, build the airframe and then build the carrier itself, Which mean it could be decades before J-35 is ready to launch on Chinese Carrier deck in any real number, by then most of Chinese adversary in the region (not just US) would be operating F-35 and F-35B and in general would more likely than not already flooded the market and probably not just operated by the US, but also US allies in the region.
 
J-20 is most likely going to be use as a leverage on homeland defense for China, I mean I don't see China would want to deploy or even have the option to deploy J-20 in any oversea base or have any customer either they are willing to sell to.

Which mean the power projection part is going to be a very big burden on the PLAN shoulder, and as I pointed out. China don't even currently have a functioning aircraft carrier that can operate J-35, it's going to take times to train up and certified the crew, build the airframe and then build the carrier itself, Which mean it could be decades before J-35 is ready to launch on Chinese Carrier deck in any real number, by then most of Chinese adversary in the region (not just US) would be operating F-35 and F-35B and in general would more likely than not already flooded the market and probably not just operated by the US, but also US allies in the region.

2 more aircraft carriers are in fitting out phase, will be ready within 2 years and both will be able to carry J35s, so if J35s are ready for production in 2 years then we will see the plane mass produced, by 2030s China with 4 aircraft carriers, fully loaded with J35s etc then I believe China has done well. Usa is definitely the giant so far, with their navy aviation, allies, military bases around the world, they certainly are not to be messed around with.
 
2 more aircraft carriers are in fitting out phase, will be ready within 2 years and both will be able to carry J35s, so if J35s are ready for production in 2 years then we will see the plane mass produced, by 2030s China with 4 aircraft carriers, fully loaded with J35s etc then I believe China has done well. Usa is definitely the giant so far, with their navy aviation, allies, military bases around the world, they certainly are not to be messed around with.

Only 1 in fitout - that's Fujian.....They are still building the Type 004. It's nowhere near ready. China will only have 3 Carrier in the next 2 years, that is if they can work Fujian, because I don't think there were any operational test done on the EMALS on Fijian which make sense because they would want to wait for J-35 to finish prototype stage because J-35 and J-15 are different weight class fighter. Which mean if the Chinese are as good as the American, it will take anywhere between 22-24 months to get the EMALS into operational order, because that is how long it take the American on Ford Class.

And I don't think China can have 4 carrier that's capable to operate J-35 in 2030, they will have 4 carrier, but 2 of them will be Liaoning and Shandong. They can't run J-35 as they aren't CATOBAR carrier, Fujian would be ready at least from 2025/2026 onward, and most likely Type 004 is late 2020s or even early 2030. The Chinese will probably have 4 carriers with J-35 in somewhere 2035-ish again, but by then you would have at least 2 Japanese Izumo Class with ROKN CVX in service complimenting the 3 USN Fleet Carrier with 3rd and 7th Fleet and the 4 LHA the US had in the region, that is if both Japan and ROKN did not procure more carrier, not sure about ROK, I am pretty sure Japan will get another pair of Carrier bigger than Izumo class, most likely 40k tons class to replace the Hyuga Class, and also Australia is looking at QE class option for Carrier after AUKUS. So I don't think China would have much leverage in A-Pac region by the time J-35 was put in meaningful service.
 
Considering the Swedish J-35 is called the “Draken” and the Chinese J-35 will be a Naval fighter, should it be called the “Kraken”?

Although jokes could be made about it “Crack’n”, by those calling into question it’s quality, so I doubt the name would stick on reflection.

Never mind. 8-)
 
This is most likely never gonna happen.

J-31 (or J-35 now they called) is about 10-15 years behind the US F-35 Schedule. And the carrier Fujian is at best 2 years before being operational and deployable, and that is just a single carrier, you need to wait for another 3 or 4 for each subsequent carrier to be made.

So by the time Chinese Navy start fielding this aircraft in any meaningful number, it would most likely be post 2035 (depends on how many Carriers China is going after) and by then there will be tons of F-35 and some may even end up on Second Hand market and US would be moved onto 6th Gen Aircraft.
Can Australia even assemble aircraft? Like Pakistan?
 
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