The Shenyang J-35, China’s next 5th-gen fighter, in development for over a decade, may soon be officially unveiled. A new shot of the aircraft, this time photographed very closely, shows the fighter in full paint scheme and what appears to be the emblem on the Chinese Navy, its future operator.
The fighter is an evolution of the prototype FC-31, an aircraft that is also known as “Guying” (Chinese pronunciation for a species of falcon). In October of last year, the aircraft had already been spotted in flight, but still with the green coverage of the primer on the fuselage.
At least two details deliver its adaptation for naval operation. The first of these is the landing gear with the coupling bar in catapult launch systems. Another aspect is the wing tips, which can be folded to reduce the space occupied by the fighter aboard an aircraft carrier.
The Chinese Navy, which has two vessels based on Russia’s Kuznetsov-class, is building a new aircraft carrier known as Fuijan (Type 003).
Launched weeks ago, it will be the first Chinese aircraft carrier equipped with aircraft launch catapults – previous Chinese aircraft carriers use the ski-jump system, in which aircraft take off with the aid of a ramp.
The catapult system, unlike the ski-jump, allows the launch of fighters with greater take-off weight, including more weapons or extra fuel for longer missions – or both.
This capability also allows the operation of heavier naval aircraft, such as air control and early warning aircraft and even utility aircraft, as is the case with the US super aircraft carriers with the E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound turboprops.
The J-35 preparation may relate to a presentation suggested by a member of the aircraft testing division, who recently urged his team to be prepared for a “strategic importance and historical” event.