China’s Shenyang Aircraft Co. Ltd. aims to commence development of a carrier-based fourth generation stealth jet as part of its work plans for 2021 revealed last week on its WeChat account.
The company aims to make breakthroughs in its fourth-generation fighter jet program by boosting related technologies, including additive manufacturing, control over surface electromagnetic defects, and automated fiber placement, so that the aircraft can be successfully developed, a statement posted on WeChat said.
The new Chinese aircraft is speculated in the media to be ready by 2035.
While the statement did not specify the name of the aircraft, it attached photos of the FC-31, the only known fourth-generation aircraft built by the company. In the Chinese context, this generation of jets will have stealth features and will have capabilities comparable to the likes of J-20, F-22 and Su-57.
Read: Is Chinese FC-31 A Replica Of U.S. F-35 Aircraft?
Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Monday that it makes sense to speculate the statement is referring to an improved version of the FC-31, as the current versions are only prototypes.
The Chinese Navy needs a more advanced fighter jet on its aircraft carriers in the future, and the FC-31, when customized for that purpose, would be a good choice, Wang predicted.
The company is also exploring next-generation aircraft including research on technologies like thermal adaptation and integration of structure and function.
China’s arch rival, the United States, is also building a sixth-generation jet under its Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program. The project is expected to include teaming between fighter jets and drones.