China has unveiled its new J-31 stealth fighter jet aiming to compete with America’s cutting-edge F-35.
The J-31 aircraft, built by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic), the country’s number one aircraft manufacturer, was publicly flown for the first time on Tuesday at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition.
The event, which takes place every two years in the city of Zhuhai, southern China, is a showcase of China’s advances in military technology.
China still remains rather secretive about the twin fighter jet. The plane wasn’t put on public display after the demonstration flight, with only a mock-up available to visitors.
"We were told not to do any promotion for the plane," said Avic spokesman Fu Mingyao without providing any further details.
He said two additional demonstration flights are expected to take place at the show.
China has high hopes for the J-31 aircraft and believes it will win over the US F-35. China's main marketing targets are likely to be countries that have a strained relationship with the US, limiting their ability to purchase American military equipment.
"Experts predict that the J-31 will make rapid inroads in the international market in the future, and will undoubtedly steal the limelight from the F-35," the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily reported on its website in August 2013.
According to a report by the US Department of Defense , the J-31 is about the same size as the F-35.
Already the second stealth aircraft developed by the east-Asian super power, J-31 underlines China’s political and military ambitions. It enables China to conduct offensive and defensive operations and project its power more assertively especially in the east China and south-east China seas.
The showcase has taken place during the visit of US President Barack Obama in Beijing.